Leonard Peltier Letter Requesting His Release from Prison

Submitted on 06/01/2015

Background

At New York Yearly Meeting Fall Sessions 2014, Witness Coordinating Committee brought to the body a request that the Yearly Meeting write to President Obama asking him to arrange the release from prison of Lakota activist Leonard Peltier "in accordance with the plan drawn up by the National Congress of American Indians. Peltier is believed by some human rights activists to have been wrongly convicted of killing FBI agents. The gathered body of the Yearly Meeting approved sending the letter whose text appears below.

Note that six letters in total were sent to the following persons or groups: President Obama; the National Congress of American Indians; US Senators and Representatives from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut; other Quaker yearly meetings; the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee; and Leonard Peltier himself. All had essentially the same message.

Download a pdf file of the letter to President Obama.

Text of New York Yearly Meeting's letter:

Dear President Obama:

New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends comprises the body of Quakers in New York State, northern New Jersey and western Connecticut. We call for the release of Leonard Peltier from prison in accordance with the plan drawn up by the National Congress of American Indians." Accordingly, we request that you do all within your power to make this happen.

At the recent gathering of New York Yearly Meeting in November 2014 we came to understand that placing this call is what God would have us do. As is our practice, we minuted this decision in writing. I am attaching the minute, as approved by the gathered body of New York Yearly Meeting, so that you might have a more complete understanding of how we have been led to make this request of you.

New York Yearly Meeting's mintue:

NYYM minute calling for the release of Leonard Peltier

Minute 2014-11-15

Friends have a long-standing concern for prisons and those who have been unjustly imprisoned. We are called by God to act with integrity, and out of this grows a concern for justice. We have historic ties with Native American Nations and hold a concern that Native American individuals and Nations receive justice within our governmental systems. We feel led by the Spirit to call for the release of Leonard Peltier because we are led to speak truth to power. If we remain silent, we fail to take action when we feel called to do so. Our conscience requires it of us and our Spirit moves us to act. We join the international community in calling for his release.

In Leonard Peltier’s own words:

The Message

Silence, they say, is the voice of complicity.
But silence is impossible.
Silence screams.
Silence is a message,
just as doing nothing is an act.

Let who you are ring out & resonate
in every word & deed.
Yes, become who you are.
There’s no sidestepping your own being

or your own responsibility.
What you do is who you are.
You are your own comeuppance.
You become your own message.

You are the message.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,
Leonard Peltier

New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends calls for the release from prison of Leonard Peltier in accordance with the plan drawn up by the National Congress of American Indians. Leonard Peltier is elderly and in ill health. We ask that he be allowed to rejoin his family and live his last days in peace.

The clerk of NYYM is requested to forward this minute to Barack Obama while he is in office, and to our Senators and Congressional Representatives.

Additionally, the clerk is requested to write to Leonard Peltier personally to inform him of our action and support, as well as the National Congress of American Indians, which formulated the plan for his release; the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, IndianCountryToday; and all North American Yearly Meetings. Individual members of New York Yearly Meeting are also encouraged to express individual support for release of Leonard Peltier as led.