In the News
Prisoners Require COVID Care, Not Torture of Lockdowns
January 31 Press Conference Demands Immediate Hospitalization and COVID Release from Prison for Leonard Peltier
Indigenous political prisoner Leonard Peltier, who has been in U.S. federal prison for 46 years, despite worldwide calls for his freedom, tested positive for COVID on Friday, January 28.
Carol Gokee and Jean Roach, co-directors of the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee (ILPDC) hosted a press conference on Monday, January 31 at 1:00 pm in Tampa, Florida to expose the failure of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines and COVID guidelines issued by former Attorney General William Barr.
At 77 years old with severe health problems, Leonard Peltier is at great risk. Supporters are demanding his immediate transfer to a hospital to prevent complications that could endanger his life. He has diabetes, an aortic aneurysm, untreated kidney disease and high blood pressure. He also had open heart surgery recently.
Despite the extremely high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, the BOP had not provided booster shots to the prisoners at the Coleman I penitentiary, particularly to the Elders Unit, where Mr. Peltier is imprisoned.
“We are calling for Leonard to be transferred to a hospital immediately. He waited all day from 8:00 am on Friday when he told the authorities he was sick. He was not tested for hours. It was only at 7:00 pm that he was told the test result was positive,” says Gokee.
Roach says, “It is unconscionable that Leonard Peltier and the other prisoners were not given the booster shot. We demand that he be provided hospitalization to assure a higher chance of survival and recovery. Despite his eligibility for COVID release due to the pandemic, we are alarmed that he could face a death sentence by the BOP’s negligence. Leonard Peltier needs to be hospitalized, not just isolated in the prison.”
There is a growing chorus of voices calling on President Biden to free Peltier. On January 26, Brian Schatz, (D-Hawaii) Chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, wrote to President Biden, saying in part, “I write to urge you to grant a commutation of Leonard Peltier’s sentence.”
James H. Reynolds, who was the prosecutor at Mr. Peltier’s trial, wrote Biden on July 9, 2021, “I write today from a position rare for a former prosecutor: to beseech you to commute the sentence of a man who I helped put behind bars. … I have realized that the prosecution and continued incarceration of Mr. Peltier was and is unjust.”
To view and sign a national Change.org petition calling for Leonard Peltier’s hospitalization and freedom click here.
International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee. Media contact: Carol Gokee, 715-209-4453, Jean Roach, 605-415-3127.
(Renewal Update, posted February 2, 2022)