Possible Presidential Pardon: Leonard Peltier
By Sydnee Yazzie '18
Reservation searching for a young man named Jimmy Eagle, who was wanted for questioning in connection with the recent assault and robbery of two local ranch employees. Williams radioed into a local dispatch that he and Coler had come under fire from the occupants of a vehicle suspected to be Eagle’s, were unable to return fire , Williams then radioed that they would be killed if reinforcements did not arrive. He then next radioed that he was hit. Another, FBI Special Agent, Gary Adams, was the first to respond to Williams' call when he arrived he too came under intense gun fire.
The FBI, BIA, and the local police spent the afternoon waiting for other law enforcement officers. At 2:30 p.m. A BIA officer shot Joe Stuntz, an AIM member who had taken part in the shootout. At 4:31 p.m., authorities recovered the bodies of Williams and Coler from their vehicles. Agents, William and Coler were later confirmed to have died on June 26, 1975. Stuntz appeared to have died later, during the shooting.
Leonard Peltier provided a number of different alibis about his activities on the morning of the shooting. Peltier described working on a car in Oglala, claiming to have driven back to the Jumping Bull Compound about an hour before the shooting started. Peltier purchased a Plymouth station wagon in Denver, Colorado. The FBI sent out descriptions of the vehicle and the description of an RV, Peltier and accomplices were believed to be on the run. An Oregon State Trooper stopped the vehicles and ordered the driver of the RV to exit, after a brief exchange of gunfire, the driver escaped on foot. Authorities later identified the driver as Peltier. Agent Coler’s gun was found in a bag under the front seat of the RV, where authorities later reported to have Peltier's fingerprints on it.
Peltier being on the run was part of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives in December 22, 1975. Peltier hid in a friend’s house located in Hinton, Alberta and was later arrested on February 6, 1976. Peltier's trial was held in Fargo, North Dakota, where a jury convicted Peltier of the murders of Coler and Williams. Peltier's conviction sparked great controversy and drew criticism from a number of sources. Numerous appeals have been filed on his behalf; none of the resulting rulings has been made in his favor. Peltier is considered by the AIM to be a political prisoner and has received support from individuals and groups. Many people suspect that Leonard Peltier is innocent and had an unfair trial. People including the prosecutor that handled Peltier’s case has come forward to say that he agrees Peltier is innocent. With every new President, people hope that Leonard Peltier will get a presidential pardon as his last resort for his freedom.
Facing 2017 Poll Results
Last month Ambush! Asked its readers how they felt about the Presidency as we move into 2017. Surprisingly 100% of Ambush! Poll takers said they were nervous and afraid of the direction we are headed.