On a recent Friday, a group of Democratic lawmakers, along with a solitary House Republican, sent President Biden a letter. Their main appeal was to reconsider the case of Leonard Peltier, a Native American activist from the 1970s who was convicted for the deaths of two FBI agents. Leading the initiative were figures like Rep. Raul Grijalva and Sen. Bernie Sanders, who questioned the integrity of Peltier’s conviction and trial. Their plea was notably timed around Indigenous People’s Day.
Peltier’s situation has always been controversial. He was sentenced after a violent episode on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota in 1975, and has been in custody for nearly half a century, with his health reportedly deteriorating. Over time, numerous legal challenges and appeals have been made regarding his conviction, but all have been unsuccessful.
The FBI’s stance has been consistent in opposing Peltier’s release, emphasizing the gravity of his crimes and the impact on law enforcement. The FBI Agents Association has also been vocal, expressing concerns about misinformation surrounding the case and advocating for Peltier to complete his sentence.
This plea for clemency has received varied support from both sides of the political aisle, as evidenced by the diverse group of lawmakers endorsing the letter.