Dozens gather to support Peltier in Fargo, North Dakota

Fargo, North Dakota (AP) 12-08

Dozens of Leonard Peltier’s supporters gathered on Nov. 29 front of the federal courthouse in Fargo, where he was convicted more than 30 years ago in the execution-style killings of two federal agents.

Carrying signs that read, “Don’t let Leonard die in prison,” and “Peltier is innocent, FBI is guilty,” the group heard from Peltier’s sister, Betty Ann Peltier-Solano, who read a letter from her brother.

“My time of freedom is near,” Peltier-Solano read from her brother’s letter.

American Indian actor Russell Means spoke at the rally, saying Peltier was wrongly convicted.

Means urged the public to pressure federal officials to free Peltier when he becomes eligible for release early next year.

Means said he spoke to Peltier recently by phone.

“You can tell how lonesome he is,” Means said. “He didn’t want to get off the phone. It teared me up.”

Peltier, 64, is serving two life sentences for the deaths of two FBI agents during a 1975 standoff near Oglala, S.D., on the Pine Ridge Reservation. FBI agents Ronald Williams and Jack Coler were shot in the head at point-blank range.

Peltier has claimed the FBI framed him, which the agency denies. His supporters have said he was treated unfairly because of his political activism.

Peltier has filed numerous appeals since he was convicted by a jury in Fargo in 1977.