Action Toolkit: President Biden Should Free Leonard Peltier 


In this toolkit you’ll find: 
  • Information and resources about Leonard Peltier, a Native American activist who has been imprisoned for nearly 50 years in the USA for a crime he maintains he did not commit. There are serious and ongoing concerns about the fairness of his trial and conviction. 
  • Online and offline actions to put pressure on President Biden to release Leonard Peltier by granting clemency on humanitarian grounds. 
  • Ideas for actions to raise awareness of Leonard Peltier’s case and why he should be freed.  

This guide provides you with a range of resources to support you in engaging in anything from a less time intensive action such as signing an online petition and retweeting, to a high-level action, where you step into a leadership role, implement offline activities, lead discussions, and participate in stunts.

Whatever the time, skill, and energy you have to give, the action you take matters, please know all actions are important and most impactful when done together! 

Who is Leonard Peltier?

Background & Why AIUSA has prioritized this Campaign  

Leonard Peltier, an Anishinaabe- Lakota Native American, was a member of the American Indian Movement (AIM), which promotes Native American rights. In 1975, during a confrontation involving AIM members on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation, FBI agents Ronald Williams and Jack Coler were shot dead. AIM member Joseph Stuntz was also killed. Leonard Peltier was convicted in 1977 and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences related to the murder of agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams. Leonard Peltier has always denied killing them. 

He is 78 years old, in declining health and suffers from a number of serious life-threatening illnesses, including diabetes and an abdominal aortic aneurism and other comorbidities. Amnesty International does not take a position on whether Leonard Peltier is innocent or guilty. Amnesty International’s position is that, given the totality of the circumstances, including the serious and ongoing concerns about the fairness of the trial and legal process leading to Leonard Peltier’s conviction, his time served, and serious health concerns, that the interests of justice are best served by granting him clemency and his immediate release from prison. 

Concerns about the fairness of the legal process include the FBI’s intimidation of witnesses and coercion of their testimony, refusal to allow certain witnesses to testify on behalf of Leonard Peltier, the suppression of evidence which may have assisted in Leonard Peltier’s defense, and bias against Native Americans which may have influenced the trial, among other issues. Even the U.S. Attorney, James H. Reynolds, whose office handled the prosecution and appeal of Leonard Peltier’s case now calls for his release. In a letter to President Biden, he wrote;

“With time and the benefit of hindsight, I have realized that the prosecution and continued incarceration of Mr Peltier was and is unjust…I urge you to commute Leonard Peltier’s sentence and grant him executive clemency.” 

U.S. Attorney, James H. Reynolds

Countless others have also called for Leonard Peltier’s release, including Indigenous Leaders, the National Congress of American Indians, the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, former FBI Special Agents, a former judge on the case, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and many more.  

AIUSA uses the power of global collective action

This action includes each of us around the world doing a small part—to convince governments, businesses, and others to respect, protect and fulfill human rights and that’s exactly what we’re doing in this Campaign to free Leonard Peltier. People just like you around the world are taking actions directed at President Biden, so that he feels enough pressure to release Leonard Peltier before it’s too late. President Biden has the power to grant Leonard clemency and release him. Amnesty International USA is partnering with Tribal Leaders, Indigenous organizations, Amnesty offices worldwide on this Campaign—but we need you!

Ways to TAKE ACTION for Leonard Peltier’s birthday:

Leonard Peltier’s birthday is coming up on Tuesday September 12. We believe that his birthday is the perfect opportunity to uplift his story and urge the President to grant clemency so that he does not die in prison. We also want Amnesty members to express their solidarity with him on this special occasion!

Join NDN Collective, Amnesty International USA and many more for a rally on Tuesday, September 12th from 12-2 pm ET at the White House. We will meet at: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500. See map below for meeting point.

Please join and share the Facebook Event Page, and share the Action Flyer widely.

We are helping Amnesty activists coordinate ride shares from nearby areas including: Philadelphia, Raleigh/Durham, Baltimore, Richmond, and NYC.

Please email Jennifer Estrada at [email protected] for more details.

You can also plan to arrive by Amtrak train to Union Station in Washington, DC, by Metro to the Farragut West or McPherson Square stations or on foot!

Send a birthday card for Leonard Peltier before his birthday on September 12th to President Biden at the White House urging him to grant clemency (address below). Please email to let us know if you send a card: [email protected].

  • Address: President Joseph Biden, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW,
    Washington, DC 20500. 
  • Sample text: “Happy Birthday Leonard Peltier! We hope that on this birthday President Biden grants you clemency and you are released from prison! In solidarity, X (your name and state)” 

Call the White House Comment Line at (202) 456 – 1111 and say you urge President Biden to grant Leonard Peltier clemency.

Whether you reach a live person or an answering machine, tell them your name (it can just be your first name), your state, and that you want President Biden to grant Native American Leonard Peltier [Pel-tee-er] clemency and release him from prison. 

Draft script: 

Hi, my name is  [NAME] and I live in the state of {state}. I am calling to urge President Biden to grant clemency to Native American activist Leonard Peltier [Pel-tee-er] and release him. Peltier has served nearly 50 years in prison and is in ill-health. There are serious and ongoing concerns about the fairness of his trial. A wide range of Indigenous Leaders and even the former US government prosecutor whose team supervised Peltier’s prosecution call for his release. 

Send a text message to the President’s text info line at (302) 404-0880 urging President Biden to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier. Email us if you did this or to brainstorm additional creative and effective actions you can take: [email protected]. 

Tweet the President tagging @POTUS to release Leonard Peltier and tag @amnestyusa and @ndncollective.

You can send a letter of solidarity to Leonard Peltier in prison here.