United States: Trump Pardoned the Wrong Guy, a Better Choice Would Have Been Leonard Peltier
By Samuel Vargo
August 28, 2017
As erratic and reckless as Donald Trump has been while in office, I could not believe that he actually pardoned Joe Arpaio, 85, Friday night. Trump sort of used Arpaio’s age as an underlying reason for pardoning Sheriff Joe, but actually, age 85 is very young for a vampire. Vampires, they say, can live for hundreds of years.
This brazen, arrogant act shows a white supremist of the first order – Donald Trump has indeed outdone himself, making him the vilest of all creatures – a true racist who is behaving like an adolescent dictator.
For more than 40 years now, poor Leonard Peltier has rotted in federal prison because some shaky and suspect evidence that an unjust jury bought hook, line, and sinker that Peltier killed two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1975.
Mr. Peltier is being incarcerated in the United States Penitentiary, Coleman, in Florida. He has been a prisoner since he was a 33-year-old Oglala Lakota young man and now is an old man, age 73, and is in poor health. He was just given a wheelchair so he could get around in this stark, existential place. He has not long to live, according to those who know of his condition, and would very much like to spend his remaining days on earth with family and friends around Wounded Knee Creek, S.D., on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
The fact that Joe Arpaio has been a blatant racist in arresting minorities – primarily Hispanics – even those holding American citizenship, and jailing them in a tent city in the desert where the days are fiery, over 110 degrees, and sometimes over 120 degrees on hot summer days, and very cold during the summer nights – is proof enough for anyone with a humanitarian bent to say is cruel and unusual punishment. Does the Eighth Amendment hold any political weight in the Days of Trump or is the U.S. Constitution merely a meaningless piece of paper? This tent city is located in the hottest state in the USA, where there have been reports of littered plastic soda bottles melting during recent fiery summer afternoons on the blistering asphalt of parking lots.
Arpaio even called this hell on earth a concentration camp. And yes, this cruel draconian statement was made with a sense of arrogant pride. Prisoners have died in this camp, that’s not fake news. This is reality. Much of it has been worthy of award-winning journalism attempts. Likewise, children have been raped at Arpaio’s hellish jail. Latino children. Reporters have been imprisoned in this horrid tent city for doing nothing more than exercising their First Amendment rights in attempts to get reality out to the masses – realities that a leader who is now being considered as clinically insane, sloughs off with a wicked rictus and a cocky smile as “fake news”.
But what Arpaio is in direct collision with is the Fourth Amendment. In 2011, a federal judge ordered this Vlad the Impaler of Maricopa County, Ariz., to have his law enforcement forces quit arresting people with racial profiling alone making them suspect. This lawsuit was originally filed against Arpaio over a decade ago. Arpaio did not simply arrest and jail Hispanics for being illegal aliens, he went much further than this, directly violating the Fourth Amendment. For decades now, Arpaio’s law enforcement officials have been incarcerating Latinos for simply looking like they might be illegal aliens. Yes, read the last sentence again – these victims were not arrested for being illegal aliens, but for looking like they might be illegal aliens. In the past, a multitude of Hispanics who were born as U.S. citizens in this country were guests at the Maricopa Hell Hotel simply for looking Hispanic and looking like that yes, they might be here illegally.
How long will this harebrained idiot, who has so flagrantly and arrogantly shattered many Constitutional guarantees, be allowed to run roughshod in Washington, D.C., just like Nathaniel Bedford Forest riding his big horse with his men behind him, the Civil War long lost, trying to find blacks and an occasional Catholic or Jew to string up and lynch?
What infuriates me is that for so long now, Native Americans have pleaded with each and every President since Leonard Peltier was arrested to free this innocent man, who was nothing less than a victim of circumstance. Mr. Peltier was convicted of murdering a duo of F.B.I. agents who really had no right to even be on Pine Ridge. A kangaroo court has kept him in a cage for a veritable lifetime, based on sketchy and iffy evidence that a gullible, unprepared, and improvised jury bought hook, line and sinker.
Salient long-term incarcerations that can be seen legally as unfair, unjust, and even illegal, such as freeing Leonard Peltier, is what Presidential Pardons were made for – why we have them. Although I do not mean any disrespect to Peltier, he looks almost like a “poster child” for a Presidential pardon. I don’t want to get into all the specifics here, but there is a throng of erroneous evidence that put poor Leonard in federal prison. Any President with a bit of legal knowhow could have studied Mr. Peltier’s case and given him the benefit of a doubt that yes, he had nothing to do with the killings of two federal agents near Wounded Knee, S.D., in 1975. There were just too many erroneous facts during the courtroom proceedings, too much sketchy nonsense, not to leave out the fact that after Peltier was convicted, some startling evidence presented itself that should have seen him freed decades ago.
But no, Trump freed a real vampire – a true racist pig and a white supremist. According to reports, Arpaio is responsible for many more deaths of victims trapped in the Maricopa County Hell Hotel than Mr. Peltier was wrongly accused of killing when he was a concerned young man who was only trying to protect his people – his fellow Oglala Lakota friends and neighbors – from federal agents Peltier considered to be trespassers, treaty breakers, and human rights violators.
According to an article that was published Friday (Aug. 26) in The New York Times titled “Trump Pardons Joe Arpaio, Who Became Face of Crackdown on Illegal Immigration”: “The discussion about pardoning Mr. Arpaio had begun weeks ago, while Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, was still in the administration, according to two people briefed on the matter.
“But the decision to make the announcement during a national news blackout related to the impending hurricane was not accidental. Some in the Trump administration had cautioned against it as too controversial, and had urged waiting, if it were going to be done,” the national paper-of-records continues.
“Mr. Bannon had favored the move, as had Mr. Trump’s policy adviser, Stephen Miller, a former adviser to Jeff Sessions, the attorney general and a former senator for whom Mr. Miller served as press secretary,” according to the article, written by New York Times writers Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Maggie Haberman.
These days are so strange they almost seem biblical, as in the biblical Armageddon. Am I being too grim, too cynical, too pessimistic? I don’t think so.
What’s unbelievable about Friday evening’s news take was that Trump’s complete pardoning of this murderous, racist monster became much more of an issue than a Category Three hurricane Yes, as I am writing this Hurricane Harvey just made a landfall in Texas as a Category Four Storm. As I peck away at this piece, Brian Williams has been talking about Arpaio’s pardon for at least ten minutes straight on The Eleventh Hour. Oh, and there was another big news item Friday that this pardon totally trumped in media importance? I don’t know if it’s grammatically correct to end the previous sentence with a question mark, but it looks okay to me. Yes, North Korea on Friday tested an intercontinental ballistic missile that looks to be a dead ringer to hit major U.S. cities. Yes, Kim Jong-un’s game of horseshoes has improved remarkably. At times during his show, a frenetic and frazzled Brian Williams cuts into some information on the nightmare of impending nuclear doom. This veteran anchor’s appearance was more akin to a media card dealer Friday than the thoughtful and thorough newsman he has always been.
In closing, Vice President Pence, how long will it take for you to use the 25th Amendment to get this deranged dictatorial lunatic out of the White House? The majority voters, I think, like those two words, President Pence. Well not really, but how relieved many of us will be to say that – and when everyone starts calling you this, I’ll continue to petition you to pardon Leonard Peltier. A lot of Native Americans would love to push Leonard around Pine Ridge so he can visit his family and friends on the rez. He’s really a nice old man, from what I understand, and is not near the menace to society that Sheriff Joe has been for decades now. Trump’s decision was horrible and catastrophic, but maybe yours will be a miracle to many of us if you indeed free Leonard.