Message of solidarity
Imprisoned Indigenous leader says ‘Free Mumia!’
Published Mar 5, 2010 10:16 PM
Leonard Peltier was a leader of the American Indian Movement in 1976
when he was arrested and charged with the deaths of two FBI agents during a
shootout at the Pine Ridge Reservation of the Oglala-Lakota Nation. He has now
been imprisoned for 34 years — one of the world’s longest-held
political prisoners. Peltier sent the following message to an international
teach-in held Feb. 13 in Philadelphia on the struggle to free death-row inmate
and former Black Panther Party activist Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Greetings brothers and sisters, and thank you for attending this event to
listen, learn, teach and organize. I am Leonard Peltier, a proud Lakota and
Anishinabe American Indian activist, organizer and patriot. I am likewise,
unfortunately, a fellow political prisoner in this “land of the
I, along with my family, my supporters, and American Indians everywhere, know
full well what the justice system of the United States can mean to the brown
man, the black man, and any man or woman who dares to think or talk truth to
That we have been made targets in our own country should outrage every single
man and woman everywhere, no matter the color, background or political leaning.
That this country continues the barbaric practices of executions should be
opposed by all people of conscience.
Whether or not you approve of capital punishment is irrelevant as long as
minorities are executed with alarming disparities. Whether you approve or not
is of secondary concern when people like Mumia Abu-Jamal, myself and many
others are convicted and sentenced to die with evidence that would exonerate
most any white man. As such, every single progressive organization should
oppose the death penalty as we now know it.
This has not been a case of justice or the law, it has been politics, racism
and control, and we should confront these issues long before we decide who to
execute. As long as we have these inequities in our midst, we will continue to
convict and execute innocents. Execute — let’s call it what it
really is — state sanctioned murder! Why does America allow this brand of
“justice” to exist?
That is a question that must haunt the soul of every true American patriot. For
as long as it does, America can never be the bastion of freedom it has claimed
to be, the light in the darkness it wants to be, nor the high ground of
morality it hopes to be.
Pay attention to the names this government uses when it is opposed. The
American government has called other countries “evil empire” and
“axis of evil.” The rest of the world hears this and scoffs! Why?
Because they see this country convicting, imprisoning, and executing innocent
minorities and political liabilities while claiming to be a free society
— because they see corporate personhood allowing the rape of the Earth
and desecration of the sacred — because they see this country waging
illegal war while claiming to love peace — and because they see this
country propping up murderous dictators while giving lip service to human
rights. The rest of the world sees all of this and wonders, is not America the
real evil empire?
I, like Mumia, have been called a terrorist by my own government. Well, I never
knew a terrorist who advocated the rule of law as we have. Some people need to
find a new dictionary!
There may be other parts of the world which are breeding grounds for terrorism,
but this government makes sure they have fertile ground to harvest. We are not
the terrorists! I love my country. Progressive thinking people love this
country. It is thusly our patriotic duty to respond to such government with
righteous indignation! It is only when we allow a corrupt government to corrupt
our very minds that a patriot becomes a terrorist!
As long as you are willing to work for justice, all political prisoners can
still hope for freedom. Real power starts from the bottom and goes up, not the
other way around. Free Mumia!
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