Berkeley commission recommends Native American activist be granted clemency

Berkeley’s Peace and Justice Commission is suggesting that the Berkeley City Council send a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to grant clemency to Native American activist Leonard Peltier — who was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment over 30 years ago for first-degree murder.The commission is urging Obama to free Peltier from solitary confinement and grant executive clemency. The council will consider the commission’s recommendation at its Tuesday meeting.

Peltier participated in the American Indian Movement in the late 1960s and 1970s and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize several times, according to the Leonard Peltier Defence Committee website.

In 1975, Peltier was convicted of slaying two FBI agents and is serving two consecutive life terms with around 29 years left on his sentence.

Commission Chair George Lippman said the timing of the recommendation letter sparked from Peltier’s 67th birthday Sept. 12.

According to the recommendation, Peltier served a sentence to solitary confinement beginning June 27 of this year for 60 days.

“This is a call to end Peltier’s solitary confinement,” Lippman said. “It’s really a violation of human rights.”

Furthermore, the commission is asking Obama to grant Peltier executive clemency so that he may live out the rest of his years with his family.

Councilmember Kriss Worthington said in an email that at Tuesday’s meeting, the council will likely update the commission’s letter to include new information that Peltier has been freed from solitary confinement.

Worthington said in the email that the recommendation is a step in the right direction to achieve true justice.

“Berkeley alone is a small impact, but supporting a movement and building momentum for a cause can help inch toward victory,” Worthington said.