For the second time in recent months, House Democrats are urging President Joe Biden to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier, the 77-year-old Native American rights activist who has been in prison for 45 years and recently tested positive for COVID-19.
“On October 8, 2021, my colleagues and I requested the expedited release of Mr. Leonard Peltier from the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in Florida,” reads a Wednesday letter to Biden, led by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.). “The expedited release request was based on his age, underlying health conditions, the amount of time he had already served, and his risk of medical complications due to COVID-19.”
“We write to you again requesting clemency for Mr. Peltier, but with greater urgency, since Mr. Peltier tested positive for COVID-19 on January 28, 2022.”
When Grijalva and other lawmakers wrote to Biden in October, they were joining a chorus of decadeslong protests over Peltier’s imprisonment. Peltier, a member of the American Indian Movement, was convicted over his role in the murder of two FBI agents during a 1975 shootout on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. His trial was riddled with misconduct: Prosecutors hid key evidence. The FBI threatened and coerced witnesses into lying. A ...