Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
ALCATRAZ ISLAND - Before the fog burnt off on Sunday morning, a group of two hundred American Indians and other protesters took the first two ferries to Alcatraz Island to launch the Leonard Peltier Walk for Human Rights.
They sang the American Indian Movement anthem and the Leonard Peltier song that was written for him decades ago
They drummed and sang before the first boat left Pier 33 from the mainland. They sang the American Indian Movement anthem and the Leonard Peltier song that was written for him decades ago.
Many of the old guard of the American Indian Movement ,including Dennis Banks, Tony Gonzales, Fred Short and Lenny Foster, were there to motivate the walkers who have embarked on a five month long walk across America from San Francisco to Washington.
Peltier, Lakota, has been in prison for the past 35 years. He was convicted of killing two FBI agents who showed up on June 25, 1975 at a private residence in Oglala, South Dakota.
Many American Indians and others around the world view Peltier as a political prisoner. Through the years, Peltier's supporters have included the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa and Bishop Desmond Tutu, among other prominent names.
Dennis Banks, dressed in a dark overcoat to beat the December chill, led the ceremony to begin the walk. Dorothy Ninham, Oneida, conceived of this walk and will lead the walkers across America to bring attention to Peltier's long-term imprisonment.
“Unlock Leonard! Bring Him Home,”
declared the Dennis Banks, lifting the "keys to Alcatraz".
National Park Service Ranger John Cantwell presented "keys to Alcatraz" to Banks
"For the past several years, Leonard has told me he just wants to go home,"
commented Lenny Foster, Navajo, who provides Peltier with spiritual advice, as he does to many American Indians who are in the federal prison system.
"Leonard sent me an email this morning expressing thanks to all of you who are here today to walk for his release," said Ninham, who has taken a leave of absence from her employment to lead the walk. She is joined by several members her family.
Speaker after speaker spoke of the long 36 years already served in prison by Peltier
"I think it is really good there seems to be momentum building to seek Leonard's release,"
said Adam Villagomez, Dakota/Ojibwa, who is a cousin of Peltier. "We know there will always be pressure by the FBI because this affected their agency."
Many cited the fact that during the ensuing years of Peltier's imprisonment, the federal government even admits they do not have proof Peltier pulled the trigger that killed the two FBI agents.
“The FBI was at war with us. They were mad that the American Indian Movement took over Wounded Knee.”
"The day in question, they came to arrest Jimmy Eagle. They said he stole a pair of cowboy boots. Now, you know they don't sent out the FBI to capture someone who stole cowboy boots!"
“Meet us there in Washington, even if you cannot walk the entire way,”
said Banks, who will periodically join the walk on its way to Washington.
The Leonard Peltier Walk for Human Rights will conclude in Washington on May 18, 2012.
posted December 19, 2011 7:45 am est
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