Cynthia Dunne: Justice has been served in Leonard Peltier case

Leonard Peltier. Photo from Amnesty International

Cynthia K. Dunne, a former federal prosecutor, calls on President Barack Obama to grant clemency to American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier:
On June 26, 1975, Special Agents Coler and Williams went to the unstable Pine Ridge Reservation to hunt for a fugitive without proper back-up. This is neither to cast blame on the federal government nor to justify the murders - but to provide context. We send fully loaded Navy Seal teams into less dangerous situations, to ensure the team’s safety.

It is significant that just miles away from where the agents were shot, less than a century earlier more than 100 unarmed Lakota men, women and children were murdered at Wounded Knee by the 7th Cavalry. Although a Concurrent Resolution of Congress expressed “deep regret” for the Massacre, the US government refuses to revoke more than 20 Medals of Honor that were issued to Military Officers and men who murdered the unarmed Lakota.

People instinctively reply that Lakota families should “get over” the Massacre at Wounded Knee, and yet, they never would suggest that the Coler and Williams families should “get over” the federal agents’ deaths.

The only way to reconcile our government’s perpetual celebration of the senseless deaths of hundreds of unarmed Lakota with its heavy-handed and uncompromising pursuit of justice for the senseless deaths of two federal agents, is to place a significantly lower value on the lives of hundreds of Lakota men, women and children.

Perhaps the greatest irony, however, is that the integrity of the system of justice that Special Agents Coler and Williams died for is tarnished if—as courts have reported—to secure Peltier’s conviction, federal agents over-reached, turned a blind eye to leads that weakened their case and withheld relevant evidence that they were sworn to produce to Peltier’s attorneys.The American justice system is designed to protect both the innocent and the guilty.

Get the Story:
Cynthia K. Dunne: Free Peltier! Says Ex-Federal Prosecutor (Indian Country Today 7/27)

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