By Steve Neavling
More than 30 members of Congress are calling on President Biden to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier, a Lakota tribe member who was convicted of murdering two FBI agents in 1975.
“As Members of Congress, we sign this letter with a deep commitment to the crucial role we play in upholding justice for all Americans — and to also hold our government accountable when we see a case of injustice, as demonstrated by the long incarceration of Leonard Peltier,” reads the letter to Biden, which was led by Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., Huffington Post reports.
“We applaud your commitment to criminal justice reform and your administration’s work to address inequities in the criminal justice system and rectify the past wrongs of our government’s treatment of Native Americans,” they wrote. “We urge you to take the next step by granting Mr. Peltier executive clemency or compassionate release.”
Three senators and 30 House members signed the letter. All are Democrats, except for Republican Rep. Tim Burchett, of Tennessee.
Peltier, a 79-year-old Indigenous rights activist, has been in prison since 1977.
An all-white jury convicted Peltier of murdering the two agents on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.
In 2021, tribal members sent a petition to Biden, asking for compassionate release or clemency.
In January 2017, then-President Obama turned down a similar request for clemency.