Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tacoma Leonard Peltier March and Rally Reportback

March web site has photos

The sound of drums could be heard from miles around, as a few hundred
marched for Leonard Peltier in Tacoma. Most of the marchers were Native
people, many Puyallups and other Salish people, the Native Student
Alliance, Portland America Indian Movement, other Native people and
Tacoma, Puyallup and Portland Chapters of the Leonard Peltier Defense
Offense Committee. Along with non-Native allies from the Jericho Movement,
Industrial Workers of the World, Jobs With Justice, peace and justice
activists, labor activists and a few anarchists. Once the march reached
downtown, the drums and the Leonard Peltier Honor song vibrated off the
buildings. The march was a long one from Puyallup land to downtown Tacoma,
with the all Native security team looking out for the well-being of all
the marchers.

The police were out in force, again, trying to make some kind of political
statement against the march. They threaten anyone who lagged behind and to
that I explained that we had a permit to march, even those that might be a
little slow. Even though, as we had done in the past, only marched in one
lane of the street, the police blocked both lands. So those who were in
cars that could not get by, only have the police to blame. Near the court
house the police tired to move the march on to the sidewalk, but we
marched around them. When they told me to move on to the sidewalk, I told
them we had a permit to march from Portland Ave. Park to the court house
and that is what we were going to do and that is what we did. I heard
reports of the police calling Native people "Chief" and "Tonto" and other
harassing remarks. They gave out a number of traffic tickets, including to
people who parked in two hour zones, some of them had been parked there
for less than two hours. We just did what we came there to do and viewed
the police actions as proving our point.

The rally at the federal court house started off with the Leonard Peltier
Honor song with the Portland AIM Drum and the with our MC Mattilaja,
Yu'Pik/Yakama of the Tacoma Chapter LPDOC introducing the speakers.
Michael One Road of both Portland AIM and Portland Chapter of LPDOC gave
the opening. Then Deeahop Conway, Puyallup, daughter of a long time
activists and member of the Tacoma Chapter LPDOC gave a welcoming to
Puyallup land. Then Ramona Bennett, Puyallup and long time activists spoke
about the history of Native activism in Tacoma and a personal recollection
of Leonard Peltier, who she had known well before he went to prison. After
Ramona a line of Coastal Salish drummers and singer, lead by Albert Combs,
did a Salish song. Then Arthur J. Miller, Northwest Regional Organizer for
the LPDOC, gave a background on Leonard's case and an appeal for the new
clemency campaign. Followed by Chauncey Peltier, son of Leonard, spoke
about his father. Peter Bohmer spoke about the history of FBI repression
and how such repression as that of Leonard Peltier and all others are
connected. Then David Duenas, Puyallup, son of a early Leonard support
organizer, gave the closing words on Leonard support and Native
resistance. The ending words came from Keith Johnson, Alaskan Tribal Elder
and long time Native Elder of the Northwest Leonard Peltier Support
Movement. And then Portland AIM ended the rally with the Peltier Honor
song as they had began the rally.

The march and rally was a good start for the northwest Leonard Peltier
Clemency Campaign, but we still have a lot of work to do. We have learned
from the past clemency campaign that the only thing that will free Leonard
is overwhelming public support, for those that stand against Leonard will
also be out there organizing. We have not had a public march for Leonard
in the northwest since 2007, which was the 14th yearly march in Tacoma and
part of a regional campaign of 63 marches. There are many young activists
we need to educate about the importance of Leonard's case. We must make
connections to other movements, for those behind the repression of
Transnational Native people, AIM and Leonard Peltier, are also those that
many other people are struggling against.

All the work of many people for the march and rally, was not just for the
turnout, but also to get Leonard's name, case, clemency campaign and why
it is important to all, and that was done. Leonard's case is important

1.. Leonard has stood strong in prison since 1976 for all of us.

2.. Leonard's case is the continuation of over 500 years of Native
resistance to genocide and the continuing theft of Native land.

3.. Leonard's case is all about the resistance to the abuse of Mother

4.. Leonard's case is about the repression of social activists and
represents the danger to anyone who disagrees with the policies of the
government and corporations.

5.. Leonard's case is important, also because it should connect to all
those that the government, corporations and the media seek to blame for
the wrong doing of a few who believe that their greed, at the expence of
the many and Mother Earth, is more important than the well-being of all.

We wish to thank everyone who came out for the march, rally and helped
get the word out. Our movement is a grass roots movement and everything
everyone did to help made up the whole of what this effort became.

Our clemency campaign will continue. Please sign and return to us the
petitions. Please get resolutions supporting clemency fro your
organizations such as unions, churches, human rights groups and others
(please send up copies). Please organize educational events and
benefits. WE still will need donations for the NW Leonard Peltier
Clemency Campaign. Please write out checks to: Leonard Peltier Defense
Offense Committee (marked NW Campaign) and send them to: Tacoma Chapter,
LPDOC, P.O. Box 5464, Tacoma, WA 98415-0464.

The next northwest regional Leonard Peltier Clemency March will be in
Portland in November. That you all very much.

For the Well-Being of All Arthur J. Miller
Northwest Regional Organizer
Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee

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