Statement for the 13th Annual NW Region Tacoma Leonard Peltier March
Statement for the 13th Annual NW Regional Tacoma Leonard Peltier March and Rally.
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From: The Tacoma Leonard Peltier Support Group
IN THE SPIRIT OF UNIFIED SOLIDARITY
LEONARD PELTIER MARCH AND RALLY STATEMENT
13th ANNUAL NORTHWEST REGIONAL INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH LEONARD PELTIER, MARCH AND RALLY FOR JUSTICE
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2006, TACOMA, WA
12:00 NOON: MARCH FOR JUSTICE. (Portland Ave. Park (on Portland Ave. between E. 24th and E. Fairbanks Ave. Take Portland Ave. exit off I-5 and head east)
1:00 PM: RALLY FOR JUSTICE. U.S. Federal Court House, 1717 Pacific Ave.
"As individual fingers we can easily be broken, but all together we make a mighty fist."
Unified Solidarity is something that is hard to achieve and necessary to achieve in order to get beyond the current and historical oppressive powers of greed, to create a better world for the people and learn to live in balance with Mother Earth. Though it is essential that there be movements that organize around the different aspects of the suffering of the people and Mother Earth, it is also essential that we understand that all things are connected and we act upon that understanding in direct Unified Solidarity.
We are now suffering through a war justified by outright false statements. In that war the greedy are increasing their wealth and international power, while those who are not the greedy ones are suffering great hardships and many are dying needless deaths.
We have seen, in the hurricanes of the south, that much is done for the privileged people while the poor and sick were left behind as being expendable and unworthy of effort and expense.
We have seen our wages and medical coverage that we depend upon for our survival; decrease while at the same time the wealth of the greedy ones increase greatly.
We have seen oppressive attacks on immigrants, in a land of mostly immigrants, as they are targeted as a means to miss-direct attention away from those that are truly to blame for our suffering. And we have seen the rise of right wing vigilante groups like the Minutemen using bigotry towards immigrants to further their agenda. The Minutemen have now become active in the state of Washington, and the Tacoma Leonard Peltier Support Group stands in direct solidarity with the resistance against them.
All these things and all the other sufferings and oppressions of the people are connected. They all gain the greedy few greater wealth and power while at the same time create suffering among the people. We are meant to be kept ignorant, in debt, with work enough to pay against our debt but never free of it, tied up by a congress more interested in business than in humanity, by a corrupt rigged voting system, by a judicial branch that reflects business over human and social rights.
"I do feel pity for your people that they must live under such an ugly system. Under your system you are taught greed, racism, corruption-and, most serious of all, the destruction of Mother Earth. Under the Native American system, we are taught all people are brothers and sisters, and to share the wealth with the poor and needy. But the most important of all is to respect and preserve the Earth, whom we shall consider to be our Mother." From the Pre-Sentencing Statement—Leonard Peltier
What we see going on today in our land is nothing new but rather is a continuation of a long process on this continent that began with mass murderers like Columbus, Cortez and Pizarro. Though the words of this society will at times will speak of changing social values and a regret for past wrongs done, these words continue to be hollow meaningless proclamations.
The Federal government shows the truth of its values each year Columbus Day is celebrated as a national holiday, a clear statement that the federal government still views genocide as a necessary part of national policy. The Tacoma Leonard Peltier Support Group actively supports the transformation of Columbus Day (the celebration of genocide) into Indigenous People's Day, a day of honoring all those victims of genocide and the Indigenous People's continuing struggle for survival.
We cannot look to the United States government for leadership towards Indigenous rights, but we can look south, and around the Pacific Rim. Grandmothers of Indigenous nations around the world, including Grandma Agnes of the Siletz Tribes of the central Oregon coast, have been traveling the globe to spread the urgency of protecting our water. Indigenous women of Oaxaca, Mexico, imprisoned for years on dubious or economics related drug charges, were all freed last October due to the tireless efforts of women working outside the prison on their behalf. Again in Mexico, since 1994 the Zapatistas have brought the struggle for Indigenous rights into the public eye through self-determination, international discussion and celebrations in their lands. Still further south the majority Indigenous populations of Bolivia and Ecuador have played enormous roles these last two years in removing the corrupt governments of those lands. Massive demonstrations continue on a regular basis across the globe in opposition to capitalist oppression, exploitation and immigrant violence. Time is on our side; the struggle for freedom of Leonard Peltier is part of this great global shift away from the domination of greed and towards a more humane and balanced world.
There are few clearer examples of the connections between the struggles of the people than the case of Leonard Peltier. Leonard's case is all about the continuing wars of conquest and thus it is an issue of real peace and anti-war struggle, for how can you hope to end the U.S. wars in other lands without acknowledging the long war of conquest in this land we live? Leonard's case is all about the corruption and false statements by the government, thus how can we create social honesty within our society without being honest about the Indigenous People of this land? How can we seek justice and well-being for those who suffer in great disasters without also doing the same for the Indigenous People who have suffered under an unnatural disaster since the days of Columbus? And it should be pointed out that few have spoken about the thousands of Native People who also greatly suffered due to the hurricanes. We struggle over jobs, wages and benefits while the group of people with the largest percentage of unemployment in the U.S. are Native People, and those that do have jobs are the lowest paid workers. Some reservations have over 80% unemployment. How can we speak of the abuses of multinational corporations without also speaking of the same type of abuses that Indigenous People suffer and the case of Leonard Peltier? As Leonard has stated:
"I have no doubt whatsoever that the real motivation behind both Wounded Knee II and the Oglala firefight, and much of the turmoil throughout Indian Country since the early 1970s, was—and is—the mining companies' desire to muffle AIM and all traditional Indian people, who sought—and still seek—to protect the land, water, and air from their thefts and depredations. In this sad and tragic age we live in, to come to the defense of Mother Earth is to be branded a criminal."
-- Leonard Peltier, Prison Writings --
We are all concerned over the repressive nature of so-called "Homeland Security" which has used a great tragedy as an excuse to strip the people of their rights and move our society in the direction of a militarized police state. But how can we speak of our concerns on this problem without also speaking about the repression of Indigenous resisters and Leonard Peltier?
We do not seek people to put aside their activism in the different social struggles of our time, rather we encourage people to learn to understand the connections between all such struggles and include Leonard Peltier as a part of their efforts. Supporting Leonard Peltier is not just about supporting the man, though that is a good reason to support him; it is not just about supporting the long continuous struggle of Indigenous People, though that is another good reason to support Leonard Peltier. Leonard Peltier is a global connecting point of all the struggles of the people and of the right of the people to resist oppression, exploitation and organized violence of the U.S. government.
Thus we also ask you to actively support Leonard Peltier for yourselves, your families and for the future generations. We ask that while you continue your important social activism for peace, justice, the healing of the wounds of the people and Mother Earth and to create a better world for the well-being of all, that you join with us in the public calling for justice for Leonard Peltier. We ask you women to join us, we need your vision, your intelligence and your stamina; we ask you men to join us, we need your heart and fortitude in support of our brother; we ask you Latinos, the fasted growing population in the U.S. to join us, we need your spirit, your warmth, and your strength; we ask all people of color to join us, we need your experience and determination; we ask that you people of European ancestry who believe in social justice to join us, we need your passion and energy for our struggle of all the colors of people united in common cause; We ask all you unionists, human rights activists, environmentalists and all others who work so hard for a better world to join us, for it needs to be clear to all that this better world is meant for all, no separate peace; we ask you, Leonard's people, the Elders, the healers, the strong hearted Indigenous women and the warriors, to join us because Leonard's day is also your day; we ask you younger people to join us, for we need you to take up where we leave off; we ask you children to join us, we need your joy, laughter and wisdom. We ask all people to put aside what may divide us and join together on February 4, 2006 in a unified day of solidarity for Leonard Peltier.
The Case Of Leonard Peltier
After a conflict between the Lakota people and the U.S. government and corporate interests a peace treaty was signed and the great Lakota reservation was created in the late 19th century. That peace treaty meant nothing to U.S. interests, for its terms were violated from almost the moment it was signed. Those interests continued to steal more Lakota land wherever they found gold and other minerals that they wanted. At the same time, they sought to destroy the Lakota way of life. U.S. interests outlawed Lakota religion and massacred the Lakota at Wounded Knee in an act of religious suppression. U.S. interests kidnapped Lakota children and placed them in internment, in schools where they were held for years away from their families, while their language and traditions were being beaten out of them. U.S. interests carried out a secret forced program of sterilization of Lakota women. Then, in the 1920s, acting upon the interests of oil and mineral companies, the U.S. forced a 'government' entity upon the Lakota people, to be controlled by those corporate and U.S. interests.
In the late 1960s uranium was found in the northwest section of the Pine Ridge Lakota Reservation. The U.S. interests wanted that uranium for their weapons of mass destruction and nuclear power plants.
The U.S. interests knew that the Lakota people would not give up any more of their land willingly: they had already refused to take payment for the Black Hills, stolen from them for its gold. U.S. interests then set out to suppress all possible resistance to further theft. That led the resisters' to request the help of the American Indian Movement (AIM). Upon a request by Lakota Elders, a stand was taken at Wounded Knee, on the Pine Ridge reservation of the Lakota people.
In the two and a half years after what became known as Wounded Knee II there was a 'Reign of Terror' the resisters on Pine Ridge was forced to suffer. Whole villages were shot up, people were run off the road, many Native people were wounded and over 67 of them were murdered. The Lakota people again asked AIM for help and an AIM encampment was set up. Most of the people in that encampment were from Northwest AIM. And Leonard Peltier was one of them.
The AIM people were under considerable oppression and lived there daily in danger from the death squad (they called themselves the Goon Squad). One day two cars came speeding onto the land of their encampment, in the same manner that earlier drive-by shootings by the death squad had taken place on Pine Ridge. The AIM members there that day defended themselves from what they saw as another murderous attack. In the firefight that took place two FBI agents and one AIM member died.
Norman Zigrossi, head of the local FBI office at the time, defended the illegal actions, saying, "Indians are a conquered nation and the FBI is merely acting as a colonial police force." He went on, "When you're conquered, the people you're conquered by dictate your future."
It is clear that the attack upon the AIM encampment was planned to start a conflict to draw away resistance to the illegal signing away of Lakota land that had taken place in Washington, D.C. at that time. Before the firefight, hundreds of U.S. Government agents were brought on to Pine Ridge reservation, the roads leading to the AIM encampment were blocked before the firefight and local hospitals were given notice to expect casualties.
In the first trial of two AIM members, who had been in the firefight at their encampment, the jury came back with a verdict of not guilty by reason of self-defense.
The U.S. interests then put all their efforts into convicting Leonard Peltier. They fabricated evidence, intimidated witnesses and illegally changed judges, settling on one who would not allow Leonard's lawyers to present his case of self-defense.
Through appeals, Leonard's lawyers have been able to disprove the case against him to the point that the U.S. Government prosecutors have stated that they don't know what role Leonard played in the firefight -- he was just there that day and thus by default aided and abetted in the deaths of the agents. It can be reasoned that since the first two AIM members were found not guilty by reason of self-defense, then Leonard has been in prison all these years for aiding and abetting an act of self-defense!
Much of our focus should be on FBI political repression, COINTELPRO, and how they are connected to Leonard's case, for the FBI has been and continues to be used as the U.S. Government's and corporate interests' Political Police Force.
As you read this, Leonard's lawyers struggle to get all the documents that the FBI has withheld in his case. The FBI claims it needs to withhold those documents to protect national security. We need to ask, "Whose national security needs to be protected from the truth?" Given that documents already received by the defense team have exposed the U.S. Government's frame-up of Leonard to the point that the government's lawyers have had to admit that there is no evidence connecting him directly to the deaths of the FBI agents, and have shown that the FBI took illegal, aggressive actions to suppress the right of Native people to organize to air their grievances, there is no doubt that documents still withheld will show further evidence of FBI illegal actions.
Even the courts have recognized the repressive nature of the government actions against AIM and Leonard. Judge Heaney stated, "The United States Government overreacted at Wounded Knee. Instead of carefully considering the legitimate grievances of the Native Americans, the response was essentially a military one, which culminated in the deadly firefight on June 26, 1975."
And in 2003 the Tenth Circuit Court found that, "Much of the government's behavior at the Pine Ridge Reservation and in its prosecution of Mr. Peltier is to be condemned. The government withheld evidence. It intimidated witnesses. These facts are not disputed."
Even with this acknowledgment Leonard has been in prison for over 28 years. Leonard is not in prison based upon the laws of this land, for the courts have stated over and over again that the U.S. government has violated those laws in Leonard's case. Leonard Peltier is in prison for one reason and one reason alone, and that is because it is in the interests of the few to keep him locked up: because he represents the essence of this land, the wrong upon which the United States was established, a simple truth which has to be recognized before the country can ever be sound. Leonard suffers under the same interests that hung Chief Leschi, the same interests that massacred the Lakota at Wounded Knee, the same interests that are behind many of the wars around the world, the same interest behind the WTO, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the same interests that strips our schools of basic funds, that strip you of your unemployment benefits and overtime pay, and the same interests that we all find ourselves struggling against in our common pursuit of peace and well-being. Justice for Leonard and the end to political repression by the FBI will only come from the organized spirit of solidarity of all people struggling in their true interests.
Illegal actions by the FBI should be the concern of all American people who believe in social justice, because Leonard was not and will not be the only victim of political repression. Among those that were targeted by the FBI's COINTELPRO were: Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights activists and organizations including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Jesse Jackson (note that the FBI also carried out intimidation of Jackson supporters in the south when he ran for U.S. president), Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers (UFW), the National Lawyer's Guild, antinuclear weapons campaigns (SANE-Freeze), the National Council of Churches, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), antiwar organizations, the alternative press, student organizations including the National Students Association (TNSA) and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), environmental, anti-racism and feminist organizations, GI organizations, socialist and communist parties, the Industrial
Workers of the World, organizations of self-determination for people of color such as the Black Panthers, the Young Lords, the Brown Berets, and Native organizations such as the American Indian Movement (AIM).
The political repression carried out by the FBI has never ended. It was seen this year with the FBI's intimidation of antiwar protesters who planned to protest at the national conventions of the two major political parties. Though the FBI claimed it needed more power, money and agents to deal with the threat of terrorism after 9-11, the agency still had the time, money, and forces to harass people who questioned
the war in Iraq.
The same drive to acquire enormous profits that keep this country in Iraq over the opposition of its own people is also what led to the U.S. Government's suppression of traditional indigenous people, AIM and in its frame-up of Leonard Peltier.
And as to making connections, the infliction of war on Iraq was justified by using false documents, lies about weapons of mass destruction and sham connections to terrorists. That is the same tactic the U.S. Government used in its suppression of AIM and in its frame-up of Leonard Peltier. The government used the war in Iraq in the interest of bringing global U.S. company's huge profits, and on the Pine Ridge reservation that same government carried out its repression in the interest of U.S. energy corporations.
The Oglala People are unconquered -- We will not, and Leonard Peltier will not give up the fight for justice.
In today's world it is more important than ever to stand up to political persecution. Over the past three years the City of Tacoma has tried to stop our march and has tried to intimidate us with a massive show of police force. It was the support of many good people and a legal team that upheld our right to march in Tacoma.
Our annual focus for 13 years has been to hold a peaceful march in solidarity with Leonard Peltier's struggle. We will not stop marching, we will not be intimidated and we maintain the right to come out in public in support of Leonard Peltier without persecution.
We call on you as sisters and brothers to join us at our Annual Regional Tacoma March and Rally in Solidarity with Leonard Peltier, as we send the message: We will not give up! We will not surrender! We will continue to stand for justice for Leonard Peltier and for justice for all that he represents for as long as it takes to set him free! Our strength is building and time is on our side, the sweep of justice is moving throughout the world and we are a part of that great wave of truth and justice. Please join with us on Feb.4, 2006 for a tremendous show of solidarity, a march and rally in Unified Solidarity for Justice for Leonard Peltier. All of us working together will free Leonard Peltier.
The Tacoma Leonard Peltier Support needs your help. We need donations to help pay for the publicity for the march and rally. Please send donations to the address below (make checks out to the Tacoma Leonard Peltier Support Group. We need help getting fliers and posters out and setting up video showings. Please contact us if you can help.
In The Spirit of Crazy Horse,
Steve Hapy, Jr.
Arthur J. Miller
Tacoma Leonard Peltier Support Group
P.O. Box 5464
Tacoma, WA 98415-00464
Tacomafirstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
AFTER RALLY POT LUCK MEAL AND GET TOGETHER: Around 4:00 pm. At the First United Methodist Church, 423 Martin Luther King Jr Way. From the rally go south up the hill to Martin Luther King Jr Way and turn right. The church is right next to a large hospital. The meal and gathering is hosted in support of Leonard by the local Tacoma group People for Peace, Justice and Healing.
Those who wish to sign up on the NWPeltierSupport e-mail list can do so by sending an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
address: Tacoma LPSG, P.O. Box 5464, Tacoma, WA 98415-0464
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