This year marks 45 years since the illegal and cruel incarceration of Leonard Peltier, a political prisoner and world-renowned fighter for Native liberation. To honor Leonard’s fight for freedom and his support for the struggle to save the environment, a group of supporters referring to themselves as Freedom Riders set out on a horseback journey from the Winnebago Nation in Omaha, Nebr., to Washington D.C. They are stopping along the way in various cities to raise awareness about Leonard’s case.
The Freedom Riders describe their journey on their website, “As First peoples, along with our allies of all colors, we are committed to this journey across mother earth, not only for Leonard‘s freedom, but for the respect due to all of the two legged, four legged and winged beings that exist here, and for their protection and for future generations.” They will also be raising awareness about honoring Native treaties that are routinely flouted by the U.S. government.
The Freedom Riders arrived in Washington D.C., June 21 where they are leading prayer and drum circles in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and ending with an outdoor concert. Drummers from the Oglala nation at the Pine Ridge Reservation, where the shootout that ultimately led to Leonard’s illegal imprisonment took place, are also expected to join. Since they began on June 6, the Freedom Riders have been amassing supporters along the way with rising excitement to fight for the freedom of Leonard Peltier.
Leonard Peltier’s long fight for freedom
Peltier was wrongfully convicted for a shootout at Oglala on June 26, 1975, and surrounding events, for which the U.S. government and the FBI are solely responsible. Since then, the U.S. government has rejected numerous appeals for his freedom despite widespread requests for clemency.
Protesters at San Diego’s Chicano Park say, ‘Free Leonard Peltier!’
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