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Leonard Peltier Solidarity action in Grand Rapids

June 27, 2012

Yesterday, a small group of people participated in an event organized to draw attention to the plight of Native American activist Leonard Peltier who has been in a federal prison since the late 1970s.

Ian Swanson, whose family is part of the local Native community, organized the event in conjunction with actions taking place all over the US. Swanson invited people to join him for a solidarity walk from the East Hills area to the Grand River downtown. After the walk, people came to the river over the next several hours to talk about Peltier’s case, Native American struggles today and how people could be in solidarity.

Peltier was a member of the American Indian Movement (AIM) in the 1970s and joined other young warriors on the Pine Ridge Reservation to help the community fight to regain their dignity and sovereignty.

Pine Ridge had been mired in corruption from the Bureau of Indian Affairs appointed tribal leader, poverty and growing awareness of land disputes with the federal government, which wanted to take lands that were rich in uranium and other minerals.

The American Indian Movement was already being targeted by the FBI’s counterintelligence campaign (COINTELPRO) and the presence of AIM increased the level of repression against community members who wanted to reclaim land, fight corruption and improve the conditions for the tribe.

Here is an interview we did with the organizer of the action today in support of Leonard Peltier.

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