Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Activist group marches through Dothan

Activist group marches through Dothan

A group of activists seeking the release of convicted murderer Leonard Peltier marched through Dothan on Tuesday as part of a cross-country trip.

The group began its journey in California and will conclude it in Washington , D.C., where it hopes to gain the support of President Barack Obama.

“We’re trying to hit a lot of the reservations and a lot of the communities along the way, just trying to bring awareness of who Leonard Peltier is,” said Dorothy Ninham of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, one of the protesters.

Peltier, a Native American activist of Chippewa and Lakota descent, was sentenced in 1977 to two consecutive life sentences for the murder of two FBI agents during a 1975 shootout at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

Ninham and the other protesters, however, say Peltier received an unfair trial and has been a victim of human rights violations and racism.

“It isn’t about one day on an Indian reservation, it’s all the years of corruption that led up to this,” Ninham said. “We’re asking for justice in this case. He is an innocent man. In his case alone, there are over 40 constitutional violations. Obama, being a constitutional attorney, should recognize those violations and overturn this. We brought it to the attention of the Justice Department, and they have done nothing yet.”

Geronimo Powless, also of the Oneida Nation, said the multiracial march’s purpose is simple.

“We’re asking for Leonard Peltier’s freedom,” he said. “We need our tribal elders, our spiritual people to step up and be a voice to our government. We need to bring Leonard home.”

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