Jean Day, from the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, received two blows to the forehead from a police officer using a baton to prevent nonviolent marchers from exiting the Free Speech area of the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday. The 1000+ marchers, which were bringing attention to their concerns about Mass Incarceration, Police Brutality, the Death Penalty, had marched through LA to the designated site or "pit" where they gave speeches. Upon leaving the area to march back to Pershing Square, some of the marchers stopped at the entrance, completely stopping the march from proceeding back to Pershing Square. Police moved in and broke into two parts the marchers, and then surrounded all. They also briefly prevented marchers from leaving the fenced in demonstration area. At that time, many started quickly trying to leave the surrounded area.
During this time, Jean Day was trying to leave the surrounded area, and even though was successful in her movement from the area, was hit by a police officer with a baton two times in the forehead, suffering "two large bumps on the forehead, and also fell to the ground while helping another escape," according to Adam Villagomez, a Leonard Peltier Defense Committee spokesman at the rally.
"We were here to focus our concerns about Leonard Peltier, and plead for President Clinton to grant Executive Clemency. The Petition for Clemency has been at the White House for consideration for more than five years, and Clinton has not said no to this petition. Many clemency requests have been granted as a President is leaving office."
"We are very concerned that Jean Day, who is also a survivor of the Oglala firefight in the 70s, suffered injuries today."
Jean Day participated in a healing ceremony in June 2000 at the site of the firefight in 1975 between Federal agents and Native American activists at the Pine Ridge Reservation, resulting in the deaths of one Native American, Joseph Stuntz, and two Federal agents, Jack Coler and Ron Williams. Peltier has served 25 years in prison for the deaths, but hsi trials were marked by suppressed evidence, false or coerced witnesses and a fabricated murder weapon. In 1993, the U.S prosecutor admitted in court that "the government doesn't know who killed their agents." But Peltier still to this day is being denied parole due to the parole board decisions that Peltier was the "trigger man" even though court evidence and the admission by the U.S. prosecutor shows this legal reasoning as invalid reason to deny parole. Attorney Jennifer Harbury has filed an appeal to the pardon board decision.
Amnesty International, which supports clemency for Peltier, has also passed resolutions highlighting its concern about abuses of Native American leaders when they stand upfor protection of their land, their religious freedom or their people, particularly on "sovereignty issues or disputes, i.e., exploitation of sacred sites or natural resources on Indian lands." Peltier attorneys have always asserted that the FBI had documented that AIM, the American Indian Movement which Peltier represented, had goals to halt strip mining and to stop the exploitation of the mineral resources of the region. This is significant considering the multibillion-dollars worth of resources (ie uranium) in the Black Hills area immediately adjacent to the Pine Ridge Reservation. It is also the place of worship for all the Lakota people in the region, and also the center of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty.
AIM spiritual leader, Floyd Westerman also spoke on Monday at a rally for the Ancient Forests at Pershing Square. He noted, "Leonard Peltier is still in prison. In 1975 the Judge who resided over the Peltier trials said he was ashamed to be an American when the FBI stoops so low to corrupt justice with misconduct of evidence. This same corrupted evidence also convicted Peltier. We are calling on the release of the 6000 pages held by the government in this case." These pages of documents on the Peltier case are being withheld on grounds of national security.