Frank Hopper: Leonard Peltier persecuted by FBI even behind bars

A painting by imprisoned American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier. Photo from International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee / Facebook

Journalist Frank Hopper (Alaska Native) wonders why the FBI is still going after American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier even though he's been behind bars for nearly 40 years:
In a maximum-security prison in Coleman, Florida, a 71-year-old Native man sits at an easel painting. His back hurts so much it's hard for him to walk. He needs someone to help support him for the first few steps. Squinting through reading glasses, he carefully applies paint to the canvas and slowly pictures of Lakota warriors and elders and scenes from his people's history come to life. The artist's name is Leonard Peltier and in his mind the paintings are a door to the outside world, the world of free men, into which his creativity can escape from nearly 40 years of incarceration.

But not if the FBI can help it.

A week before Thanksgiving, four of Peltier's paintings were removed from a Washington State exhibition of Native art due to complaints from ex-FBI agents. I first heard of this when a friend posted a link to a story by King 5 news in Seattle. The headline read, "State Agency to Remove Convicted Cop Killer's Artwork." My friend wrote above it, "Can we get a rally together to oppose this?"

I watched the news clip in which ex-FBI agent Ray Lauer, spoke on-camera saying, "The State of Washington should not be honoring this person, who's not a hero. He's a criminal. This person should not be honored by anyone, much less by taxpayer dollars. He's nothing but a thug. He's an unrepentant cop killer."

Get the Story:
Frank Hopper: Let Leonard Peltier Paint (Indian Country Today 12/6)

Related Stories:
Leonard Peltier paintings being removed after complaint (11/16)
Cynthia Dunne: Justice has been served in Leonard Peltier case (07/27)
Opinion: President Obama should let Leonard Peltier go free (12/10)
Ruth Hopkins: Leonard Peltier should be set free after 36 years (12/09)

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