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AIM HIGH

AIM HIGH

Native American activist Leonard Peltier is well known around the world.
Many world leaders, prominent people, and one FBI agent have endorsed his application for a pardon for allegedly killing two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (Oglala Sioux Nation) in Pine Ridge, South Dakota in 1977. This story is truly odd but here goes.

In 1984, I was required to undergo hearings on my application for admission to the State Bar of California due to a theft that I was involved in when I was 19 years old. The hearings dragged on for several years until I had a nervous breakdown and had to withdraw my application for admission. I never believed that I would ever become a licensed attorney leading me to three suicide attempts.

After the suicide attempts, I began to get motivated again. I decided that I would get a license to practice law from some foreign country. I kind of put the situation on the back burner for a while. But after several years, I inadvertently found an answer while watching a music video for a song titled “Freedom” by the group Rage Against the Machine. The video contained news and other film clips regarding Leonard Peltier and the American Indian Movement (AIM). It was then that I would apply to Native American Indian tribes to become an attorney. So I rented a movie called “Incident at Oglala”, which was produced by actor/producer Robert Redford. The movie yielded an interesting fact. About half of the residents of one of the poorest Indian reservations, Oglala Sioux Nation, had criminal records. Hmmm, I thought. This might be worth pursuing. So I did.

Due to emotional problems and being disillusioned about the legal profession, I quit the practice of law after just a short time. But being the ultimate optimist and a little self-absorbed, in 1996, I decided to run for President of the United States. My whole family thought I was crazy and I probably was. But in my “platform” I recommended a pardon for Leonard Peltier. So, I sent a letter to Leonard, who was then incarcerated at Leavenworth Penitentiary, in order to ask him how I could help him and whether he could help me in my bid for presidency. His reply was very encouraging. Nevertheless, my campaign fizzled each time.

I guess Leonard followed my lead because he decided to run for President himself in 2000 on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket despite the fact that he was a convicted felon and in prison. Ultimately, he garnished over 27,000 votes.

We exchanged a couple of letters in which he said he was considering endorsing me for President. This would have been a big boost in my visibility to the public. In one of Leonard’s letters, he appeared disillusioned with the entire legal system and believed that the only way that injustices and oppression could be stopped was by revolution. Even at that, he doubted that a revolution would come about. Sadly, he has apparently lost his will to fight and has come to grips with his eventual death behind bars.

The last I knew, Leonard had been transferred to another facility due to “disciplinary measures.” Although my encounters with Leonard were brief, he has shown me a dark side to the American justice system yet helping me to appreciate life without incarceration.

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