Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ben Carnes: 'What have you done for Leonard Peltier today?'

By Ben Carnes
Censored News

What have you done for Peltier Today ... is basically a reminder and challenge to everyone that while we sometimes complain about the price of gas to drive to a ceremony, my brother Leonard cannot have the luxury of dealing with everyday problems. The reality of fuel being $2 more than it was five years ago is cause for concern, but how many of us truly express our concern for Peltier?

Have we scraped the "Free Leonard Peltier" bumper sticker off our vehicles and do our copies of "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse" and "Incident at Oglala" sit in a box somewhere? If this is what some people have done, then Leonard does not exist in their state of mind. And I would like to see this change.

Maybe I see the 30 plus-year campaign to free Leonard differently based upon my experiences. I've been a spokesperson for the committee in the past and I've recently became the Nat'l spokesperson and an Advisory Board member for the Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee. I've worked with many of the support groups in the past and look forward to working with many of you in the future. I know that each of you have something to offer in how you can help further Leonard's cause, and we'd like for you to help.

For me there is a difference in what needs to be done this time - we have to make it happen Leonard is in his Sixties. He has spent over half of his life in prison for something the government admits it can no longer prove. His application for clemency still lies on a desk in the White House after Clinton cowardly refused to sign Peltier's application. There is a new administration coming in and despite who gets the presidency, we need a network to maintain support for the Four Directions as set out by the LP DOC.

This network will be the Leonard Peltier Branch Support Group (LPBSG). It doesn't matter what color you are or if you pray differently then Peltier. I know that if it hadn't been for so many non-Native supporters there is a good chance Leonard would have been dead. So when I say every person can make a difference, it was each one who kept him alive and boosted his hopes and spirit.

To start a support branch, go to www.whoisleonardpeltier.info and click on branches for information on how to join or start a support group.

In recent weeks, the Central Texas group started, then Colorado and now Kentucky. We've put a list together from myspace that we would like for you to add to your list of friends:

http://www.myspace.com/lpsgky (new)

This list is by no means complete; if you know of others, please let us know.

And then we would like for you to consider starting a support group. If you have questions about what you can do then contact me at the Colorado support and I see what I can do to help you. You can also contact the Committee for ideas on how you can help. My suggestion is read the book "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse by Peter Matthiessen and watch the movies listed on the lpbsgco page. It will help to give you some background not just on Peltier, but the feelings of the time, and who was who.

For each person who decides to start a support branch, you will give other people in your state and area a chance to get involved on a local or grassroots level for what is an international issue. Here is an idea to show how simple it can be. Spend some time in finding venues for readings and read from "My life is a Sun Dance" Preface the reading on who Peltier is and take some handouts with you to pass out for interested persons. Or plan an evening in showing "Incident at Oglala" and the movie "Lakota Woman: siege at Wounded Knee" to faith groups, social justice organizations, including family and friends. If the information moves them, have them sign on with your support branch.

These are just a few ideas, and if you want to copy this to send out as a bulletin or post on your blog, please do so. As a matter of fact, I encourage you to do it.

I may not be as active on this page since I'll be spending more time on the lpbsgco page to get things going. Maybe in a few months we can afford HS Internet access so that we can do more through the Net. It would be nice.

So let me ask you again, "What have you done for Peltier Today?"
Ben Carnes,

Photo: Ben Carnes, Choctaw, reads a statement from Leonard Peltier outside the federal courthouse in Denver during the Democratic National Convention 2008. Photo Brenda Norrell

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Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008: www.earthcycles.net/
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