Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Buffalo Tracks: nEw Peltier Lawsuit (June, 2012)

Buffalo Tracks, a Blackhorse:  Leonard Peltier supports his Lawyer  in new  FBI Lawsuit
“I filed this lawsuit to pry loose files. It will help AIM and Leonard Peltier but also all those who are, in the broader sense,  interested in COINTELPRO and disruptions of past and current, political movements” -–Michael Kuzma, FOIA Attorney for Leonard Peltier,  Buffalo NY
June 19, 2012.  San Francisco.  A collision course with time.  Who’s alive and who died.  Turning dark corners riding bareback, watching an eagle in twilight sky guiding sixteen give or take. Indians.  To safety. Escaping the FBI on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota. In June 1975.  Those who did not die from the rounds of G-men gunfire shot John Wayne style. Told stories about how some kind of circle of life protected them that day. Legends of of who was there, and who got away. Who was a fed, and who wasn't.  Persist even now. 

A lot has been written about the American Indian Movement (AIM). And a shoot-out at Jumping Bull Compound, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (FBI codeword “resmurs”). On June 26, 1975. Books (In the Spirit of Crazy Horse) and even two flicks (Thunderheart, Incident at Oglala). Depict  these fateful events between “radical” Indians and FBI. But like an old gangster movie house shut town in most small American towns, this Western story isn’t being told much any more.  The silver screen slashed by time, history lost. Who killed two FBI agents  (Coler and Williams) that June day in 1975 is dominated by a post colonial dronelike buzz hovering over Indian Country. There is spying. In the Sky. And.  Lies about Leonard Peltier being guilty of killing FBI, his serving two life sentences, set-up as a scapegoat for those crimes,  and other federally designed atrocities.  Peltier a name some have forgotten, or worse yet.  A political prisoner some don’t realize is still alive.  Viable efforts to free him, from a wrongful conviction. Still taking hold.  Despite the lostness of time.
So. Then. Let’s begin again. 
To untangle this brutal mess.
 Via  Peltier’s current, FOIA Attorney from Buffalo, New York.

Leonard Peltier, circa 1979
A prison visit.  March 2012. Attorney Michael Kuzma visits his client Leonard Peltier,  at Coleman Federal Penitentiary, Coleman, Florida.  In March 2012, Kuzma. Often travelling out of his own pocket.  To give Peltier some updates.  About a new lawsuit. And talk about a guy once called “Frank Blackhorse”.  Apparently Blackhorse was a  long haired always ready for a fight guy, who came into AIM during 1973 at Wounded Knee. He was also considered Peltier’s AIM brother.  Until Blackhorse disappeared from sight, from life.  From history. Literally.  Soon after Peltier’s arrest in Canada, Feb. 1976.  
Blackhorse in a Nov. 1975  FBI teletype is named as a "reliable source" and Kuzma wants the rest of the files on this guy. He believes they will help prove the intricacies of his client's wrongful conviction.  For years Kuzma has challenged the Department of Justice to comply with providing him FBI Files, under FOIA. 

They have at times refused, then randomly approved page counts. And then denying access, again. 
Given him varied catch me if you can runarounds.  Kuzma persists.  

In February of this year (2012) Michael Kuzma became  “the Plaintiff” in a case filed against the United States Dept. of Justice.  Regarding the “withholding of files” by the FBI. The first of his potential “string” of  lawsuits. His colleagues from Buffalo, New York. Attorneys at Law, Daire Brian Irwin and Peter Reese are representing Kuzma in a request for 927 pages of FBI files, about a man of too many names. “Frank Deluca” aka “ Frank Leonard Blackhorse”. But why does a Peltier lawyer and his friends, go “after” Blackhorse and the FBI?  Irwin explains his own rationale:  “Based on all the work Mike has done I am totally convinced that Blackhorse holds the key to Leonard's cell.
If you look at the evidence it is hard to not think that are serious shenanigans going on...”
The Blackhorse lawsuit filed in Buffalo, New York. Mostly concerns the “resmurs", Leonard Peltier and the 1975 Jumping Bull shootout.  Kuzma is claiming the FBI is wrongfully withholding information from he (and ultimately his client, Peltier) regarding the identity and whereabouts of Frank Blackhorse. This Buffalo lawyer believes the epic “Blackhorse masquerade” as Kuzma calls it.  Is the key to his client’s freedom.

"Siege at Wounded Knee, 1973"

“A ‘piece in the mosaic’ which will set my client free” Kuzma explains. “Indian Country and any ‘pinhead’ knows.  That there were infiltrators into AIM who set up and created the deaths of the two FBI agents on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation”.  He believes Blackhorse fits that part.  Further, Kuzma knows for fact that  Blackhorse did pull the trigger on at least one  federal agent Fitzgerald. And was neither extradited from Canada for that shooting when he was found with Peltier . Nor did he ever go trial.  He simply. "Disappeared". Kuzma is convinced that Peltier’s wrongful conviction in the FBI killing that day in ’75, is a cover up, an FBI plan gone bad.  “Blowback” as he calls it: “It was their own dirty tricks. Their harassment. What happened in 1975 was blowback. I believe."

Frank Blackhorse, rare arrest

This Blackhorse intrigue has nearly haunted Michael Kuzma: “Who was this guy? Why was this Jewish guy masquerading as an American Indian? Why was he not extradited with Leonard?”
Kuzma tells me the intricacies of the story,  as I interview him, about the FBI’s sharkskin lawsuit pretensions. This June afternoon, 2012.   From the West, to the East.  We do sound bites.
The story epic. A Reader’s Digest version of Blackhorse goes like this: Black Horse was carrying a firearm and a pocketful of pot.  In Feb. 1976. When the Canadian Mounties “found” he and Peltier that day.  Peltier was taken into custody. On the spot.  To be extradited to the U.S.  For killing the two FBI agents.  

Blackhorse, on the other hand, never made it back to the States. His extradition, never happened. 

The fact that there was an active warrant for Blackhorse. Pertaining to his alleged shooting of  an FBI agent Fitzgerald. And a "no show" at his own trial. Is what keeps Kuzma pushing into the dark corners of all this.  Kuzma wants answers. Blackhorse was never charged in the killing of the two FBI “Jumping Bull” agents, for which he had not been indicted, but certainly was listed on FBI communiqués, as a person of interest.  According to continued Indian Country "moccasin telegraph" Blackhorse was not at Jumping Bull that day. But without public disclosure about this man, nothing about his whereabouts.  Is certain. 

Instead of being held accountable for shooting an agent, and skipping on his trial date FOR that shooting.  Blackhorse was simply charged with possession of marijuana, the Canadian charges later dropped on a “technicality”. And poof.  Black Horse rides off into the Yukon sunset.  Or was it into the wilds of Newfoundland.  A rare band of friends. Perhaps know.  Where he went. And down the line, his lawyer was found in contempt of court regarding Blackhorse’s no show for a trial. Which was based on charges that he wounded Agent Fitzgerald.  Blackhorse’s attorney fought to the Supreme Court for the right to “not” disclose why her client, disappeared. And never came to trial.   Where is he ??  Now.   Kuzma wants to know. Why wasn’t Frank Blackhorse aka “Frank Deluca”  extradited from Canada? For a no show on his own shooting trial and warrant.   Why did he claim he was “American Indian” when history indicates via “boystown records” that he was/is a white boy from the Midwest?
 It doesn’t take a Nancy Drew to connect the dots. On this map.
FBI Teletype naming Frank Black Horse as a Source: Nov. 1975
Kuzma believes Blackhorse was perhaps an FBI informant: “Some of the FOIA documents we HAVE secured find he was running with Leonard Peltier and it appears he pretty much lead the authorities to Leonard.”
In the 1970’s—just like now in the Occupy Movement—federal agents were sent into strategic groups to disrupt, infiltrate and report information to the FBI . They work/ed as operatives, informants and purveyors of dis-information, with the explicit purpose of disrupting and creating violence (confirmed per FOIA--Freedom of Information Act--documents Kuzma HAS obtained).  Cointelpro agents sent in with the sole purpose of destroying a movement. In this case AIM.  Blackhorse may have been their star player.  That is what Kuzma is set to prove.  And Kuzma is clear in his resolve to place blame. 

For the killing of two FBI that day in June ’75.  Right where it belongs.

Kuzma is not a lone wolf, here. Even John Trudell, chairperson of AIM during the turbulent 1970’s  stated a few years back,  in an interview with KBOO radio, Portland, Oregon, that he believes the shoot out was FBI  “A plan. Gone Bad. They killed their own….The Government had an operative…someone they put amongst a group… to direct activities. Not an informant. An operative.  This operative is behind the fire fight at Oglala (Jumping Bull).  Where the agents were killed…the way it appears to me is that this operative manipulated both sides against each other.  As a part of a larger plan.  But the plan went wrong, and the agents got killed.”

Nov. 1975: Anna Mae Aquash with Kamook Banks,
in 2004 Kamook identity as Federal informant emerged
Now, nearly four decades after the Jumping Bull Shoot, Blackhorse aka Frank DeLuca and his role in AIM, for the "Feds" is still a coin toss and ten paces away from a draw. And Kuzma ‘s Spring 2012  visit to Coleman prison finds him. Telling Leonard Peltier news he may not want to hear: Blackhorse may have been working for the Feds. All along. We’ve been here before. Operatives in the Movement.  That is what killed Annie Mae Aquash. And there was Dennis Banks. Old AIM leader, learning his best friend Douglas Durham, was a Fed.  Way back when. 
So. What does Leonard Peltier say about this Black Horse mystery man?  His once “old friend”.  And the implications that his long ago AIM “brother” may have been a Federal Operative. How does Peltier weigh in. About the new lawsuit being initiated by the his FOIA lawyer Mike Kuzma??
Peltier gave him the nod, yes. Go forward. During their March 2012 Coleman Prison visit. According to Kuzma, Peltier said:
“Go after the information, give me what you have about Blackhorse and file whatever lawsuits you can, to find the truth”. 
This is important. Because some in Indian Country had speculated that Peltier is not committed to unraveling the web of confusion regarding the missing Mr. Blackhorse. Whose name and mystery  over the years. Have popped up like ads on you tube.  Interrupting the main story. Some have even suggested that Peltier. maybe. Is not interested in talking about Blackhorse, at all. That Peltier may not be wanting to drag up more accusations against old AIM, even if they are guised as Federal Operatives.

Postcard created by Buffalo, Ny LPDOC
Spring 2012
That is just not true.   According to Kuzma.  Peltier not only gave Kuzma the go ahead—though Peltier was surprised, according to Kuzma, about the possibility of a  Blackhorse turncoat identity—but Peltier is also, supportive.  Of this case, Kuzma’s efforts.  And the importance it may have in Peltier’s freedom.  Someday.

Kuzma is satisfied with his Peltier visit: “When I saw Leonard at the end of March in Coleman he became fully aware of the lawsuit I brought against the Dept. Of  Justice regarding Blackhorse. And  Leonard supported that along with full release of documents.” This was probably--at least in part--because one of the files that Kuzma showed Peltier: an  FBI teletype,  from Nov. 1975.

Which named “Francis Black Horse” as a “confidential source who has provided reliable information in the past”. It was something Peltier wanted to take back to his cell with him. Perhaps to memorize and ease the surprise.  Prison laws being what they are Kuzma couldn’t leave it with his client. He mailed it to Peltier when get got back to Buffalo. Helping Peltier be certain to have this  tangible proof: however Black Horse had posed in the past, his mug shot cover was now,  blown.
Sometimes the long time between contact and barbaric prison conditions can make for grizzly quick encounters.  But not this time. Kuzma returned to Buffalo, his bravado, his colleagues preparing for oral arguments in the Black Horse, Kuzma vs  Dept of Justice, case.
The suit was argued on June 1, 2012,  by one of  Kuzma’s counsel, Peter Reese, with a ruling (6.1.12) by Judge McCarthy: he has agreed to peruse the 927 pages to discover whether or not the FBI has a “right” to be withholding  all of the documents from Kuzma.  Reese explains the intricacies of the process: “An ideal outcome is an unbiased review and honest determination as to which, if any, of the withheld documents is subject to disclosure under FOIA.  I am confident that we will get a proper determination from Judge McCarthy and we will accept the results of his…inspection.”
The presiding Judge surprisingly taking time. Mystically listening to Kuzma, Irwin and Reese.  Defying the Dept. of Justice claim that they are “withholding nothing”. “A final decision may come as soon as thirty days from now (June 19, 2012).”  Attorney Irwin explains.  And he is optimistic:
“ I give the judge alot of credit for taking it on.
I mean how many other judges have said they will even look at these Blackhorse files.
It is already a success.
It is another set of eyes.
And. Either way the judge rules, it is a win.
There is a crack.  In their case, now."   And the bravado of Kuzma and his colleagues, has just begun.

Mike Kuzma, Toronto, Ontario  2.11
 (photo, Daire Brian Irwin)
Plaintiff in this “Blackhorse aka DeLuca” case,  FOIA Lawyer for Leonard Peltier, Michael Kuzma is  an impressive yet unlikely addition to the high profile list of AIM/Peltier lawyers.  Who have emerged over the years.  Including William Kunstler and Lou Gurwitz (RIP).  Kuzma was, after all, a young Polish descent senior high school kid in 1975.  When all this went down.  A white boy who just like now, spends most of his “free time”, taking care of his then and still, single Mom.  Yes. Kuzma is old school, a scout, the guide in this brambled flick to justice. For the American Indian Movement.  

The wild card a U. S. Government never saw coming to the tables. For  Leonard Peltier. 
This “white boy” attorney gambles on a win. From the streets of Buffalo. And has the Dept. of Justice doin’ one for the money. Two for the show. They didn’t see this one saw coming.  Until now.  And they best stay ready, because Kuzma has string of lawsuits planned.  From soliciting paperwork regarding presiding Peltier trial Judge Heaney (recently deceased), to ongoing FOIA lawsuits regarding the dark horse “secret agent man”  DeLuca.
 Kuzma is articulate about the strategy: 
“It’s a part of a huge mosaic.  Another piece of the puzzle.  What I am planning to do with the Judge Heaney files--for which I am currently getting “the blackhorse treatment”—is battle for access to those files. Filing a lawsuit for those records AND and filing a lawsuit to gain records to the Fitzgerald case. It is a part of the mosaic.”
 Kuzma’s resolve, is contagious.  It is clear. The ramifications of these legal proceedings by Kuzma, Peter Reese and Daire Brian Irwin are a work in progress.  Kuzma already has new paperwork ready to file as he "exhausts his administrative remedies" regarding the Heaney files (which may implicate visits by the FBI to a presiding Judge, during Peltier's trial) and ongoing requests for more, "less public" requests for Blackhorse files. All of this can be strung together like abalone on those old Elk tether medicine bags which some say protected AIM that day at the shoot-out.  With all the lawsuits/requests for FOIA docs, Kuzma believes it could potentially culminate in a "federal habeas corpus" which, unlike past efforts. Could succeed in the Courts.  Or perhaps create such a demand for Clemency that either way.  Leonard goes. Free. 
"Burning Books, Wall"  Buffalo, NY bookstore Feb. 2012
(photo antoinette nora claypoole)
A resilient Judicial System may be ready to undo past errs. Finally revisit the U.S. Civil Rights Commission of 1975.  Or become more like the U. S. Senate Church committee.  Reluctant to  challenge FBI  covert violence and illegal activities against AIM. And "native america". Either way, Kuzma believes FOIA challenges can navigate the truth. He and his colleagues also know random acts of support, from all four directions.  Can change the course of this history. Like volunteers in a wilderness expedition heading toward weathered terrain,  they have their watches, synchronized. Their compasses at hand.  They won't let time or history erase the need for successful arrival at their destination: remedying a wrongful convicton. Of Leonard Peltier. The impact of their resilience, epic.  Irwin has a grasp on the meteor-like scope.  The random acts of resolve it will take to surpass, and survive their impasses. They will persist. He explains:
“This is one piece of a million pieces. We are chiseling away.
This is the only way that Leonard doesn't fall way into dust in a cell.
We might find look for another lawsuit, to file, continue with FOIA requests.
Comb through those and we will probably file a broader FOIA regarding Blackhorse.
But. All this would be a mute if Blackhorse would just give us a call.
I would love to hear from him.”   Irwin is serious.
"Peltier Rally, circa 1979"  John Trudell in foreground
photo donated by Bob Robideau (RIP)
So where exactly IS Blackhorse now??  What is his aka, these days?  Is he in. Witness protection. Posing as AIM. A guy on the lam. Or.  Making that trek into secret agent land.  Where the wrong people do time in a prison designed to free Justice from the shackles of our past. It is unclear if the man once named Frank Blackhorse is hiding out  in Cleveland, starting an AIM museum in France.  Or dead in the waters of some fishing expedition. Gone bad.  Sound like a Godfather flick.  You bet. What’s clear, is that during the 1970’s “Blackhorse” was part of the American Indian Movement. And. What concerns Kuzma is that he was trusted by its leaders, Kuzma citing Dennis Banks in his loosely knit, AIM memoir, Ojibwa Warrior. Banks apparently implies  Blackhorse was an “AIM warrior”.  Or at least, expresses little notice of Blackhorse and his “disappearing” ways. Back then. The Black Horse enigma intrigues, even a rookie in all this. Because Kuzma believes "Blackhorse is fairly approachable.  And still alive.  Up in Canada." Maybe he'll waive the freeze on his files.  And rise to the occasion of his own masquerade. As Irwin says, "make that call". 

With Kuzma and his Buffalo installations of law, the Blackhorses of the world might just have to be sent back.  To the places which bred them.  While the innocent go free.  Like an eagle’s sustenance in a twilight escape from one hundred rounds of ammunition.  Vision.  That is what keeps Kuzma going forward for Leonard Peltier. That and a little help from friends. 

Perhaps it as simple as Kuzma’s counsel Peter Reese reflects: “In the end, under FOIA, you have to trust someone.”  Perhaps that was also old AIM sentiments about the intense days surrounding the “shoot-out”: you gotta trust someone.  And Peltier has paid the ultimate sacrifice, for that trust.
Warriors in a post colonial league. Peter Reese and Daire Brian Irwin have Kuzma’s back in all this. It’s clear.  Kuzma lets no one forget “It was their own dirty tricks.  What happened in 1975 with the FBI, was blowback”. 
While Irwin professes:  “Success of this lawsuit is just one part of a larger thing.
It is perseverance.
It is relentless.
It is about not giving up...
I want to see Leonard free. On the courthouse steps, he and Mike, arm in arm.” 
The Buffalo Bravados are just beginning to play their hands.  And Peltier has his bets on their scene. The main feature has just begun and it seems one thing is certain: there won’t be any old fashioned, intermission. Anytime soon. It's the first day of Summer, after all.  And their expedition, like the trek of 16 give or take Indians at Jumping Bull. Is a vested gamble on a win. Has the light of day. On their side. Nothing can impede. These Kuzma legal challenges, will prevail. 
"First Nations Day, Ashland Ore. 2008
photo by a. nora claypoole 

Special thanks to Kathy Smith and Barry Bachrach for additional source information in this piece.

To support Leonard Peltier's campaign for freedom, visit www.whoisleonardpeltier.info
Or purchase my new book Ghost Rider Roads (Wild Embers, 2012)  10% of all sales.  Going directly to Peltier.  

1. Kuzma historical pages per Blackhorse
2. antoinette nora claypoole books, blog about old AIM:
3.  Trudell youtube clip:
“the Government had an operative…someone they put amongst you to direct activities.  I think there was an operative who had access to the AIM Leadership.  This operative is behind the fire fight at Oglala (Jumping Bull).  Where the agents were killed…The way it appears to me that  this operative manipulated both sides against each other.  As a part of a larger plan.  But the plan went wrong, and the agents got killed.  See the plan went bad.  And that being the case the Government needs a scapegoat.  So that is what I see is at the bottom of Peltier’s case.” 
4. Blackhorse Timeline


01/22/69: Blackhorse enters Hoosier Boys Town. Exhibit A, p. 1.
09/30/71: Blackhorse leaves Hoosier Boys Town. Claims he is going to Denver, Colorado. Exhibit A, p. 1.
01/12/72: Blackhorse arrested by FBI Boston for interstate transportation of a stolen motor vehicle, 18 USC 2312, under the name Frank Leonard Deluca, Arrest #BS26-35774. Exhibit B, p. 6. NOTE: Another FBI report claims that Blackhorse was arrested in Allston, Massachusetts by Barrington, Rhode Island Police. Four other individuals also in the vehicle. Blackhorse used a DOB of: 10/16/51. Exhibit C, p. 3.
04/06/72: Blackhorse arrested in Zion, Illinois under the name of James Bolte, Arrest #BI 19490A-3, for Disorderly Conduct. Exhibit B, p. 7.
09/23/72: Blackhorse arrested (charge(s) not known) in Alliance, Nebraska under the name Frank Black Horse, Arrest #9529. Exhibit B, p. 7.
12/15/72: Blackhorse arrested (charge(s) not known) in South Littleton, Colorado under the name Francis Blackhorse, Arrest #639638. Exhibit B, p. 7.
02/14/73: Blackhorse arrested (charge(s) not known) in Olympia, Washington by the Sheriff’s Office under the name Bruce Johnson, Arrest #63810. Exhibit B, p. 7.
03/11/73: Blackhorse allegedly shoots FBI S/A Curtis A. Fitzgerald in Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Exhibit B, p. 5. Also, see “FBI Agent Shot as Indians Warn U. S.” by Bill Kovach, New York Times, March 12, 1973, p. 1.
08/29/74: Blackhorse indicted by Federal Grand Jury in Sioux Falls, South Dakota for Assaulting a Federal Officer (AFO). Exhibit B, p. 6.
09/04/74: Blackhorse arrested (charge(s) not known) by Bureau Agents Seattle Division in Seattle, Washington. Blackhorse was in possession of a Social Security Card bearing the name Richard Tall Bull. Exhibit D, p. 1.
02/04/75: Blackhorse arrested in Shawano, Wisconsin by the Sheriff’s Office under the name Michael Houston, Arrest #2382, for Obstructing an Officer and Carrying a Concealed Weapon. Bond $150. Exhibit E, p. 1.
03/19/75: Blackhorse fails to appear in Shawano, Wisconsin Court. Exhibit E, p. 1.
04/16/75: Blackhorse fails to appear for scheduled trial for shooting of S/A Fitzgerald at Council Bluffs, Iowa. United States District Court Judge Andrew W. Bogue subsequently issued a bench warrant for Black Horse. Exhibit B, pp. 5 - 6.

05/04/75: A bond default hearing is held in the United States District Court, Rapid City, South Dakota before Judge Bogue. Blackhorse’s $10,000 cash bond is revoked. Exhibit B, p. 6.
06/26/75: Joe Stuntz Killsright, S/A Jack Coler and Ron Williams killed at Pine Ridge, South Dakota.
07/03/75: Dale Lewis Shepard purchases 12-guage Remington shotgun which was taken from S/A Coler at the time of his death for $15 from an individual resembling Blackhorse. Exhibit F.
07/17/75: Teletype from FBI Rapid City to the Director and several other FBI field offices: The investigation of this case is being directed towards: “. . . develop[ing] information to lock Peltier and Black Horse into this case.” Exhibit G.
08/15/75: Father Michael Campagna, Hoosier Boys Town, views FBI Wanted Flyer #482, and identifies Blackhorse as Frank L. Deluca, DOB: 10/16/54, POB: Chicago, Illinois, Mother: Kay Goldfein, Father: Frank Deluca. Exhibit A, p. 1.
08/15/75: Kay Edgil (Goldfein), 5757 Melton Road, Portage, Indiana, identifies Blackhorse as her son. Exhibit A, p. 2.
02/06/76: Leonard Peltier and Blackhorse apprehended by RCMP, 70 miles south of Hinton, Alberta, Canada. Exhibit H.
02/09/76: Richard Stadelman, Shawano-Menominee Court, advises FBI that the pending charges against Blackhorse of Carrying a Concealed Weapon and Obstructing an Officer will formally be dropped at a future date. Exhibit E, p. 1.

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