LEONARD: Political Prisoner

What The Hell Just Happened

August 09, 2022 Man Bites Dog Films Season 2 Episode 6
LEONARD: Political Prisoner
What The Hell Just Happened
Show Notes Transcript

On the 46th anniversary of the Oglala shootout, we rally for clemency at the Black Voters Matter demonstration in Washington, DC, a few hundred yards from where a violent mob stormed the Capitol Building on January 6th. It’s a beautiful moment – until a white man in an American flag cape, Navy uniform and Michael Myers mask rushes the stage and wreaks havoc.

LEONARD: POLITICAL PRISONER
Season 2, Episode 6: What The Hell Just Happened? 


Chase Iron Eyes
We don’t know what the hell just happened. We just had to hold it together the best we could.


HOST VO
It’s Commemoration Day, June 26th, 2021. The 46th anniversary of the Oglala firefight. And Chase Iron Eyes was just on stage in front of a crowd of 10,000 at the Black Voters Matter rally, a block from the iconic Capitol Building in Washington DC. 


It was a beautiful moment – until a white man in an American flag cape, Navy uniform and Michael Myers mask crashed the party.

Chase Iron Eyes
Like he tried to, he tried to steal the show. You know what I mean, like? Overpower–

Jean Roach
Well he's lucky I didn't kick him in the back like I felt like, really. I pulled off the mask.

Chase Iron Eyes
You were about ready to fucking–

HOST VO
That’s Chase conferring with the most badass grandma you’ll ever meet, Oglala shootout survivor, Jean Roach, who fled for her life with Leonard Peltier and the other AIMsters while bullets were flying back on June 26th, 1975. She was 14 years old at the time.

Jean Roach
I pulled the mask off and then Wendy grabbed the flag.


Chase Iron Eyes

Maybe these guys are operatives. Provocateurs.


Jean Roach

That's what I'm saying too.


Chase Iron Eyes

Maybe they are.


Jean Roach
I feel like they were.


HOST VO

You’re listening to LEONARD—a podcast series about Leonard Peltier, one of America’s longest-serving political prisoners. I’m Andrew Fuller. 


And I’m Rory Owen Delaney. We’ve spent the last four years working to share Leonard’s story with a new generation of people: who he is, how he ended up behind bars, and why we believe he deserves to go free.


This is Season 2, Episode 6, What The Hell Just Happened? In this chapter we visit Capitol City where we encounter either an undercover federal agent or your garden variety backyard luchador slash white supremacist agitator.


It was the Jerry Springer Show on acid, the kind of scene you really gotta see to believe. 


Luckily, we got it all on camera, including the scenes featured in our last episode, because we’re adapting this podcast into a documentary with the one-and-only Chase Iron Eyes, who is co-directing the film with us. The working title is Land of the Free* and you can follow us at @lotf_doc on instagram and twitter.


But enough self-promotion. Chapter 6 is a doozy, so let’s dive in. We’ve got a lot of questions to answer. Like what we were doing in DC in the first place.


We were in town to document the arrival of the Peltier Freedom Ride, a cross country horse ride designed to raise awareness about Leonard’s case with stops in Nebraska, Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia en route to Washington DC. 


We were also there to amplify the Peltier Defense Committee’s efforts to renew both Congressional and public interest in Leonard’s clemency petition.  


A lot had happened in the six months since Trump left office. President Biden canceled the Keystone XL oil pipeline; prioritized the investigation of missing and murdered indigenous women; and named Deb Haaland as the new Secretary of the Interior, making her the first Native American to serve in the cabinet.


There was also a new clemency letter circulating in Congress that was picking up signatures. Momentum was building, and after 46 years behind bars, there was reason to believe that Leonard had a fighting chance at freedom.  


So we dusted off the credit cards and bought some more plane tickets. After two years of the pandemic, this was our chance to finally go to DC and try to push Leonard over the line while there was still time.


In advance of the trip Andrew makes some phone calls to see if we can meet with Congressional representatives from either party but no one seems eager to sit down with us. 


Rory pulls the short straw and agrees to contact the FBI. 


After changing into clean underwear, I phone the Bureau’s media department where a voice recording instructs me to submit our interview request in writing. 

So that’s what he does on Thursday, June 17th. 


HOST VO
My name is Rory Owen Delaney. I'm producing a new documentary about the case of Leonard Peltier. The film will update his story for a new generation in the context of the growing movement for criminal justice reform, racial equity and indigenous rights. We will be doing some filming in the DC area from June 23rd to 27th, 2021, and would like to interview someone from the FBI to get your perspective on the tragic events of June 26th, 1975 and the surrounding controversies. The ultimate goal with the project is to promote healing and reconciliation in this country and around the world. Thank you for your consideration.


HOST VO
Rory hits send, figuring we’ll never hear back, given the subject matter and short notice, but he receives a reply the following Monday, June 21st. 


Betsy Glick
Hello Mr. Delaney, We typically need about 14 days lead time to process requests for on camera interviews. Can you please provide the questions you wish to ask so that we can see if the FBI Historian can answer your questions or whether it would be more appropriate for someone else to do so based on the content? Thank you! Betsy Glick | Office of Public Affairs


HOST VO
Holy shit! The FBI was open to doing an interview.

Then Rory noticed the second email from Betsy. A reply to her first message.


Betsy Glick
Dear Mr. Delaney, Please disregard my earlier email. As Mr. Peltier is still alive and there are ongoing petitions due to DOJ guidelines the FBI is unable to conduct any media interviews until all legal issues are fully adjudicated. Betsy Glick | Office of Public Affairs


HOST VO
At 11:25am we were in business. At 11:36 we were bust. Less than ten minutes after tentatively agreeing to an interview, Ms. Glick pulls the plug on it. 

Clearly Betsy’s boss had given her a quick five minute primer on where we could stick our interview request. 

Of course this isn’t really shocking. 


Larry Hildes
I think there's a lot to cover up. And they’d have to explain what the hell they were doing there in the first place with guns blazing supposedly investigating a pair of stolen boots.


HOST VO
That’s civil rights attorney Larry Hildes.


Larry Hildes
The FBI, they want to be the good guys. So we've got a whole new round of television shows about how wonderful the FBI is and how heroic they were. They've never been. Their major role going back to their formation was to attack the left.

Larry Hildes
Anyone who dissents, especially anyone of color, who's effective, is likely to be followed, harassed, otherwise attacked by the FBI. It is what they do. They nominally do operations against organized crime and other stuff, which gets them a lot of the publicity they want, but they also act as secret police silencing dissent and they've done so for their entire history. 

Larry Hildes
The FBI's counterintelligence program, COINTELPRO, I think it actually goes back to the late forties, went on all through the fifties, spying on movements, sabotaging movements. They went after MLK. They went after the civil rights movement general through letters that they wrote, made up and sent, trying to persuade King to kill himself. 

VO
When FBI wiretaps revealed Martin Luther King was having extramarital affairs, the Bureau penned anonymous letters as part of a campaign to try to harry MLK into killing himself.

When he didn’t take the bait, some, including many in the King family, believe the FBI engaged in a high level conspiracy to assassinate him in April 1968.

Civil rights icon John Lewis agreed. In his words – quote – “I think there was a major conspiracy to remove Doctor King from the American scene.”

This kind of shameful behavior was far from an isolated incident. The Bureau was busy targeting other progressive activists of color, too.  

Larry Hildes
They went after black nationalists, pitting groups against each other by informants, trying to do everything they could to shut down student activism, the women's movement, the gay rights movement, the Chicano Liberation Movement, etcetera. And when they had to, resorting to military force: Murdering Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in their apartment in Chicago, the leaders of the Panthers.

HOST VO
In 1967, Fred Hampton was classified as a radical threat by the FBI, who sought to subvert his activities by placing an operative in the local Panthers organization and sowing disinformation.

On December 4, 1969, Fred Hampton was drugged, shot and killed in his bed during a pre-dawn raid at his Chicago apartment. While more than 90 gunshots were fired in the assault by law enforcement, the occupants fired only once.

Although initially ruled a justifiable homicide, today many consider Fred Hampton's death an assassination at the FBI's initiative. 

Larry Hildes
A lot of this came out because a brave group of activists, the People's FBI Liberation Movement, burglarized the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, and came up with thousands and thousands of pages documenting the spying and the sabotaging of groups and disrupting rallies and attacking people in their homes. And a lot of that came out then in the media. Frank Church, who was a Democratic Senator from Idaho, who was the head of the intelligence committee, then held a series of hearings. 





HOST VO

In 1975, the Church Committee, aka the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, was formed to investigate  abuses by the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

Larry Hildes
And the FBI swore that they would never do this again. And then they started right up and they have never stopped. They went after AIM with guns blazing as if they were Custer and the Seventh Cavalry all over again. 

Larry Hildes
They went after Earth First and staged stings and arrested people who had done nothing. And on and on and on and on until the present day. They list Black Lives Matter and groups aligned with them as dangerous extremists and domestic terrorists, who they will take action to neutralize. So COINTELPRO was a specific operation that they engaged in. It is tactics that they still engage in.


HOST VO

We’d love to share the FBI’s position on COINTELPRO, Leonard Peltier and what went down at the Jumping Bull ranch, but they’re taking the 5th, and the show must go on. 


On Tuesday, June 22nd, we fly into Washington DC where one of our favorite podcast listeners offered up her place in DuPont Circle if we tended to her demonic cats while she was out of town.


On Wednesday, June 23rd, we head off in search of the Free Leonard caravan, but they’re on the move, and between numerous street closures and a novice Uber driver, it’s looking hopeless.


That’s when we spot the procession in the distance and bail on our ride. 


Andrew watches our stuff while I take off on foot and run up on a small red car with Free Leonard Peltier soaped in every window except the front windshield. Behind the wheel is Carol Gokee, the new acting director of the Defense Committee at the time. 


Carol tells Rory the caravan is en route to their permitted space near the Smithsonian’s Native American Museum on the National Mall.


For those of you who have never been to DC and are imagining the Mall as an indoor shopping center with a Macy’s, a Foot Locker and a Dippin Dots in the food court – it’s not that. 


The Mall is a landscaped park that sits between the Washington Memorial and Capitol Building. If you’ve ever watched MLK’s “Dream” speech or Forrest Gump, you’ve seen it. 


Because of the summer heat, most of the pedestrian traffic that day concentrates on the tree lined sidewalks, which run parallel to each other on either side of the park. 


The middle’s just a wide open space. And that’s where we find four freedom riders galloping their horses in a loose figure eight pattern. 


Which isn’t something you see every day in Washington DC, so a crowd quickly forms nearby. That’s where I bump into Jean Roach. 

Jean Roach
Hey, how are you?

Rory Delaney
Good. Good to see you.

Jean Roach
Where you guys coming from?

Rory Delaney
Los Angeles.

Jean Roach
Oh shit.

Rory Delaney
We just got in last night.

Jean Roach
Really.

HOST VO
Jean’s been in town for two nights. But this is the first day everyone’s in the capital due to numerous logistical issues, including a broken horse trailer just across the Potomac River in Richmond, Virginia.

Mike
These horse riders here in Washington, DC, they came from Nebraska all the way here to support freedom for Leonard Peltier. 45 years unjustly incarcerated! We want Leonard Peltier to be free for healing for all. Freedom for all political prisoners. Honor the treaties!

HOST VO
That’s Mike, a skater dude with a mop of curly red hair, warming up the crowd. 

Next Chief Matthew Black Eagle Man addresses the audience from atop his horse. He’s in his 50s, and wearing a traditional ribbon shirt and war bonnet. 


Chief Matthew Black Eagle Man
Our government doesn't want us to know they hold political prisoners within their walls. Leonard Peltier is sitting in prison because he defended his people. Just as much as any warrior in your US military might do the same for your right. 


Chief Matthew Black Eagle Man
Leonard Peltier was an indigenous man who's sitting in prison and does not deserve to die in prison. He needs to spend the rest of his days having dinner with his family and his grandbabies that he's never seen. It's one step towards healing the fabric of this country. 

Gemma
We are peaceful.

Chief Matthew Black Eagle Man
We are peaceful people. We're not here to pick a fight. Help us lend a voice to find freedom for the man who is in prison for our rights and freedoms.


HOST VO
Just as the Chief is about to dismount, a question is directed his way.

Kash Jackson
Sir, can you speak to the missing murdered indigenous women and children movement?


HOST VO
The person asking is a guy in his 40s in a desert camo vest with a press patch sewn on the back. He’s filming the scene on a smartphone. And something about him seems a little off. 

Kash Jackson
What's Leonard Peltier's stake on, uh, all of the children being unearthed at the Catholic schools?

Chief Matthew Black Eagle Man
There was a time of assimilation for indigenous people. During that assimilation, we were put in boarding schools. A lot of things happened. Everything was designed to eliminate our culture from us. These boarding schools, they didn't have the kind of heart that it takes to take care of children. Just recently there was a mass grave of over 200 baby children found near one of these boarding schools. 


HOST VO
At the end of May 2021 it was international news when the chief of the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced the discovery of unmarked graves containing the remains of 215 children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, Canada. It was the first in a series of grisly discoveries.

Chief Matthew Black Eagle Man
I also want to speak about missing children. Over the last year, 440,000 children have gone missing in this country. That's an epidemic. I want to say this much, because if you don't hear it, you don't know it. And if you don't know it, you can't help. That's why we're here. I want to say thank you for listening. I love each of you. I love the system that we live under, but it needs help. The children are missing. Leonard Peltier is imprisoned for political things. The fabric of this nation is frayed. Thank you.

HOST VO
As the crowd dissipates, Jean asks if we know any of the press guys.

In addition to Mr. Question, the guy mentioned earlier who was filming everything on his cell phone, there’s at least two other random white guys documenting the scene. Both look to be in their mid 40s, appear to be friends and seem somewhat out of place. 

Rory Delaney
I saw somebody wearing a press jacket– 

Jean Roach
Oh okay, you don’t know them, though.

Rory Delaney
–But uh, I meant to talk to introduce myself but I don't see where he went.

Carol Gokee
That's our infiltrator. Our agitator.


HOST VO
Carol Gokee drops that bomb, but before we can get more details, the cops show up and request the removal of the horses. Evidently, the lawn has just been reseeded and they don’t want it getting trampled.


Also, it turns out the Defense Committee doesn’t have a permit for the spot on the Mall we’ve been occupying. Carol apologizes profusely and gets let off with a warning. As the group starts into another song, a rickety horse trailer parks on Third Street to collect the Freedom Riders.


[SINGING AND DRUMMING]

HOST VO
The next day, Thursday, June 24th, we arrive at the Supreme Court to meet attorney Chase Iron Eyes, the son of June Little, a Vietnam and Oglala vet who blew off his hand in the struggle for indigenous liberation back in the 70s.


But we aren’t the only ones there that morning. An older gentleman stands in front of the Supreme Court like a human billboard with a giant vinyl banner featuring an unflattering photo of President Trump alongside the text: Toxic Loser. 

The gentleman’s name is Steven. And since 2018, he’s dedicated his retirement to political activism. Chase introduces himself and the two get to talking.

Chase Iron Eyes
Our country seems to be going through a crisis. How we were founded and how we were formed – there were people who had lofty ideals.

Steven
Can we look in the mirror? That's the question. Or, or will we turn our backs on it again? And it's a dangerous, dangerous moment because the recalcitrants, they're armed to the teeth.

Chase
Yes, I've said that regularly. This is a radical fringe, radical racist fringe–

Steven
One third of the population.

Chase
And they are well capitalized. They are well armed. And they're not as well organized as they could be – because January 6th could have been a blood bath rather than just four or five people losing their lives in the United States capital.

HOST VO
On January 6th, 2021, a mob of 2,500 Trump supporters attacked the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. in an effort to disrupt the counting of electoral votes that would formalize President Biden's victory.

Trump Supporters
(chanting) HANG MIKE PENCE! 

HOST VO
Five people lost their lives in the mayhem, and four police officers who responded to the attack later died by suicide. Hundreds more were injured. 

Almost half a year later, the Supreme Court, the Capitol Building, and even the Library of Congress, were all still fenced off as a precaution against further violence.

President Biden
The violent, deadly insurrection on the Capitol nine months ago — it was about white supremacy, in my view. The rise of hate crimes against Asian Americans during the pandemic, and the rise of anti-Semitism here in America and around the world, the through line is that hate never goes away. 

HOST VO
That’s President Biden speaking at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial, in Washington DC on October, 21st, 2021. 

The visible presence during the insurrection of Confederate flags, a gallows, a hangman’s noose, and an Auschwitz Concentration Camp t-shirt supports the President’s thesis. 

In fact, white supremacy ranks as one of the biggest domestic terror threats in our country today per the Justice Department, and with good reason.

In 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina, 9 people were shot to death by a white supremacist during a Bible study at one of the oldest black churches in America.

In 2019, in El Paso, Texas, 23 people were shot to death by a white supremacist at a Walmart in the worst attack on Latinos in modern American history.

And in 2022, 10 more people were shot to death by a white supremacist at a supermarket in a black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York. 

Chase Iron Eyes
We are now as a country deconstructing our racist and genocidal foundations. And fortunately there are a lot more non-racist people in the country.

Steven
Which is exactly why they're trying to suppress the vote.

Chase Iron Eyes
They talk a big talk. But January 6th showed the country that they're not where they want to be. They think they can snap their fingers and mobilize and engage in some gorilla, urban warfare – it's hard for settler colonists to engage in gorilla warfare by definition – but the Steve Bannons, the Proud Boys, the people who talk that kind of rhetoric, they're not as strong as, as they appear to be because they would've made a move, but that–

Steven
Because so much of it is based in fear. The hatred and the fear. Not to forget that they're frightened of being, as they see it, displaced from their, uh, perch.

HOST VO
By 2044, experts predict the current majority ethnic group in the United States, non-Hispanic white people, will become one of multiple minorities in what some have dubbed the majority minority milestone.

Chase Iron Eyes
We have come a long way as a country with Black America, with Indigenous America – with every race, color, creed. We're now recognizing that those classifications are just superficial. We're human beings, brother. And I know that you recognize that. I know, also, that you love this country. I love this country. We love these lands and these waters. They’ve given to us – to the indigenous peoples – a way to walk on the earth in balance. And now, I believe that all Americans can wake up to that truth, and we can do this together. So I just wanted to come say hi, and thank you for doing what you're doing out here.

Steven
Thank you. Because if we can become that beacon, if we can have the courage to, to reach for those ideals, that idea of America, we can be a beacon for the world. Because I look at someone like Trump. And I say, this asshole is a threat to the species. [Laughter]

Chase Iron Eyes
That’s not an understatement, my man. This is our lives.

Steven
This is it. This is the moment.


HOST VO
Chase and Steven make salient points. And their conversation leaves us wondering if the so-called press team we came across yesterday was possibly playing for the other team. 
Especially their ringleader – Mr. Question – the agitator. What was up with that guy? 

After the break, things get fishy.  

ADVOCACY BREAK #1

Hello, this is Louise Erdrich. 

This is Amy Nelson. 

This is Tom Morello. 

This is Connie Nelson. 

This is Eugene Brave Rock. 

This is Peter Coyote. 

Louise Erdrich
And you’re listening to Leonard.

Tom Morello
A podcast series about America’s longest serving political prisoner, Leonard Peltier.

Eugene Brave Rock
Power and prayers to the man paying the price of the crime of being indigenous in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Tom Morello
We continue to support Leonard with our solidarity and love in the hope that he will be where deserves to be, which is free.

Peter Coyote
Together we can finally send Leonard home to his family and friends to live out his remaining days painting, writing and enjoying his freedom.

Amy Nelson
The White House comment line is now open. You can wait for a volunteer or leave a recorded message by calling 202-456-1111. 

Connie Nelson
Leonard says if they’ve done this to me, they can do it to you. Until Leonard Peltier is free, none of us are free.

Eugene Brave Rock
People lend your voices. Let’s be heard. End the injustice.

Peter Coyote
#FreeLeonardPeltier, America’s longest standing political prisoner.

Amy Nelson
We love you, Leonard.


HOST VO
After cooling off with an ice cream outside the Supreme Court, we meet the director of the Peltier Defense Committee, Carol Gokee, on the Mall where she is setting up an information booth in the shade of the trees, not far from yesterday’s gathering. 

Carol Gokee
One of the big things I wanted to do with Leonard was to work on his health. So I was able to get a geriatric doctor to listen to what's going on with him. But she said just by the fact that he's lost so much weight, he may have prostate cancer. He's got the signs.

Chase Iron Eyes
They need to know now that Leonard needs to be set free. And we don't need to wait. So we've got to keep pushing. I know that engaging US veterans in the cause for clemency for Leonard Peltier is a very important step. 

HOST VO
Chase is referring here to the Freedom Riders, several of whom are veterans.

Suddenly an old yellow school bus is rolling toward us down the pedestrian sidewalk.

Carol Gokee
Ta-da. Here's our bus load of grandmothers. And these folks came from Wounded Knee with nothing but the clothes on their back and the love and support in their heart. And they're not leaving until we get heard. 

HOST VO
As folks get off the bus, Chase recognizes some familiar faces from Pine Ridge. 

Chase Iron Eyes
Did you jump on this bus from the Knee or what? Did you? All right, man. What the heck? I was like I know this guy. Where at? From the Knee, man. Washte, man.

HOST VO 
Jean kills the music and gathers the group of mostly Native Americans into a circle. There is no sign of the Freedom Riders or Mr. Question, Carol’s agitator.

Jean Roach
So I'm open to decide what you guys want to do this afternoon. The bus can be in front, you know. Now this place is all closed; we're not going to be able to access to talk to anybody, unless you have a connection. But that's why we put right on top of our bus, Free Leonard Peltier, so anybody standing above us, the snipers, whatever, they have a message. [Laughter] So that was our thinking. We had another sign, but it didn't work out. But yeah–

Chase Iron Eyes
Jean, let me just add, uh, my name is Chase Iron Eyes. [Lakota] It's really good to see everybody here. But if we stick together we can be visible, so I really want to stress that that whatever we do, we should talk about it and just do it together. I'm willing to support all of that.

HOST VO
After the group circle, people return to catching up. 

Chase Iron Eyes
Are you from this country here?

Paul
I took citizenship in 2003. 

Chase Iron Eyes
Okay. Alright.

Paul
But I'm from Peru. The Incas. They’re my ancestors.

HOST VO
Chase engages a tourist who stops to check out the information booth. He’d seen the horses trotting through town yesterday and had taken some photos.

Chase Iron Eyes
So I don't know if you've ever heard of the Sioux nation?

Paul
Yeah.

Chase Iron Eyes
That is where I'm from. And so they split us up into all these different, what they call reservations.

Paul
The history repeats itself. When the Spanish from Spain went to South America, I mean Mexico, Central America, South America in the 1500s, they committed genocide. They killed Indian Peruvians because they didn't want to convert into Catholicism. If you didn't take Catholicism, they were declaring that they were worshiping the devil.

Chase Iron Eyes
Yeah. A heathen. Barbarian.

Paul
A barbarian. And because of that, they killed them. They killed thousands of Indians. Peruvian Indians.


HOST VO
That’s when Oglala Sioux Tribal President Kevin Killer makes a cameo. President Killer is in DC to attend the National Congress of American Indians. He’s in his early 40s and wears his traditional long hair with a blazer and bolo tie. 

Jean fires up the sound system.


Jean Roach
This is the president of the Oglala Sioux tribe, Kevin Killer. They just recently passed a resolution in support of Leonard Peltier's freedom. And he's also made a proclamation on June 26th to be Leonard Peltier Day. But I'll let him explain that.


HOST VO
A few days earlier, President Killer had officially proclaimed June 26th: Leonard Peltier Day. Now tribal workers will get back-to-back paid holidays for Victory Day on June 25th in celebration of Crazy Horse’s defeat of Custer and the 7th cavalry, and June 26th for Leonard Peltier Day. 


Kevin Killer
Wopula, Jean, [LAKOTA] Again, I shake your hand with a warm and good heart, you know. My Lakota name is Close to Earth. My English name is Kevin Killer. I appreciate all of you for being here. Especially riding the bus. I know that the bus actually stopped in Wounded Knee and picked up some of our constituents, so thank you for making the effort and thank you for continuing the fight. I’m out here in support because I know that Leonard is having health issues and uh, you know, I get the updates from my Auntie. And he just offered some condolences on Crow Dog. Hopefully we’ll have some movement this year. So again, appreciate all of you for being here. We're here in full support. [Applause]


Chuck Banner
Group pic! Group pic, here we go. 


HOST VO
President Killer poses for photos with Chase, Jean, Carol, Mike and about twenty Peltier supporters in front of the big yellow Free Leonard school bus with the Capitol building perfectly positioned in the background like an activist’s Christmas Card.


Until a not-so-friendly park ranger arrives on the scene and demands to know who’s in charge. Someone points out Carol. 


Ranger Torres
This is an illegal use of park property. So you cannot sell anything here. 


HOST VO
In addition to the information available at the booth, Carol has coffee mugs, pins and shirts for sale, but they aren’t exactly flying off the shelves. She’s mostly giving away stuff to supporters for showing up. 


Ranger Torres
So I'm letting you know. This cannot be here. So we got to take this down. How are you doing? You can take my picture all you want. That's fine. And then the bus has to go too. The bus has to be off our property. You can park the bus anywhere on Jefferson or Madison, or you can park it on Third street. So the bus has to move as of now, and this has to be shut down and put away. 


HOST VO
Apparently you aren’t allowed to park school buses on the sidewalk at the National Mall. 

Especially when they’re festooned with Free Leonard Peltier banners, painted with hippie flowers and look like something out of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. 

We’re also informed that we’re not in our permitted quadrant. Evidently, we’re supposed to be in quadrant number 201. But there is one minor problem. No one knows where that is, including Ranger Torres.


Ranger Torres
I don't know where 201 is, but I know it’s not this reservation. Because this is– 

Andrew Fuller
If you don't know, how should we know?


Ranger Torres
Well I'm telling you this is not 201. I don't know where 201 is – I can find out – but I know this is not 201. I have no problem doing that for you. Okay.


HOST VO
After getting us directions to 201, Ranger Torres loiters to make sure we clear out. 

That’s when Andrew and I hop into the bus with Jean Roach and the Wounded Knee grannies. Mike starts up the engine.

Mike
One of the wheels is gonna go off this curb here. 

[BUS GOES OFF CURB]

Mike
All right, good one. 


HOST VO
The bus bottoms out in between a line of ice cream trucks parked on 3rd St SW just across from the Capitol Reflecting Pool.


Wendy
Big wide turns, remember, wide turns!


HOST VO
That’s Mike’s friend Wendy, a young mom who is toting her toddler along for the trip. She and Mike drove the grannies over 1,500 miles from Wounded Knee, SD to Washington DC.


Mike
We're going to go over and meet Bernie Sanders. Try to meet him when he goes to speak on that stage that they’re setting up there. And then from there meet the horse riders at the Dep’t of Interior.


HOST VO
Between the Capitol building and the Washington Memorial, a stage is being assembled as the endpoint for the We Can’t Wait march where activists would be calling on Congress to give citizenship to undocumented workers. The plan is to approach the organizers and see if Chase can speak before or after the keynote speaker, Senator Bernie Sanders. 

Mike
Right as we got the president of the Oglala Sioux tribe and Chase and the elders, survivors of the shootout, and we're all planning these actions, Bernie's coming, and they're dumping their manure. I love how it comes down to the wire like that. 

HOST VO
Mike’s referring to Horse Nation here. Evidently someone had just gotten a status update from them despite their increasing aloofness.

The bus parks, and everyone regathers on the Mall where they strategically position themselves for maximum visibility. Hundreds of immigrant activists come marching in where they’re welcomed by Peltier supporters waving Free Leonard posters and banners.


[CROWD MARCHING IN, CHANTING AND APPLAUSE] 


Bo from Thailand
What’s up y’all?! I will just tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Bo. I'm an undocumented immigrant from Thailand. I don't qualify for DACA and I've been waiting for a long, long, long time for citizenship, but more than anything, I've been waiting for access. Access to healthcare, access to work, access to education, access to see my family, my mom, my parents, who I haven't seen in ten years. [APPLAUSE]


HOST VO
After 30 minutes, Jean decides to see if anything’s cooking over at the Department of the Interior, where it’s rumored the Freedom Riders will be serenading cabinet secretary, Deb Haaland. 


We leave our trusted cohort Chuck Banner from the Lakota People’s Law Project with Chase in case he’s given an opportunity to speak and hitch a ride with Jean.


Jean Roach
You know that park pig. He's sure a hot shot, huh? See him out there again? [Laughter]

Jean Roach
I hope they get to talk. There's a lot of crowd.


HOST VO
Jean looks back at the rally as we sit at a red light. She’s driving a big truck. Rory rides shotgun. I’m in the back with Jean’s friend Lana.

Jean Roach
They're all fighting to be Americans, but we're fighting to not be part of them. [Laughter].


Jean Roach
It felt good though. They need to have some stability. If we were in charge they're already welcome. And the United States government treated them wrong by taking their kids, just like they did to our children in the residential boarding schools. The 215 they found. And we know that number is not accurate.


HOST VO
Back at the We Can’t Wait rally, Bernie delivers the keynote address. In the front row, just ten feet or so from the podium, Leonard’s supporters are highly visible.

Bernie Sanders
Let me begin by thanking our undocumented brothers and sisters for being on the front line in providing critical services during this pandemic. They have put their lives on the line and in some cases have died to keep this economy going. Our job now is comprehensive immigration reform. Thank you all very much! [APPLAUSE]

Crowd
Free Leonard Peltier!


HOST VO
In the truck, we’re now en route to the Bureau of Indian Affairs at 1849 C St NW after rocking up at the Department of the Interior and finding no sign of Horse Nation.


Jean Roach
Should we get an FBI shirt? Put a big old X on it. Eh. I got some red paint. 


HOST VO
As we grind through rush hour traffic, Jean’s grandson Dre texts with good news.

Jean Roach
Oh, they're gonna let them talk at three.


Rory Delaney
Amazing.


HOST VO
The We Can’t Wait organizers agree to let Chase address the crowd.

Jean Roach
Keep going?

Rory
Shoot. I think we just passed it. That's D street.

HOST VO
We make three right turns, and eventually find BIA headquarters where we bump into Chief Eagle Man. He doesn’t look happy. 

Jean Roach
What's up, people? 

Chief Black Eagle Man
I don't even know why we're actually here, but they want to go in there and talk treaties with the BIA. I mean, I don't know nothing about treaties.

Jean Roach
Yeah, that's a dangerous move. 

Chief Black Eagle Man
I don't know what the hell Ken’s thinking.


HOST VO
Ken Four Cloud, the creator of the Freedom Ride, sits on top of his horse by the rickety trailer across the street. He’s wearing dirty jeans, and a Harley tank. 

Rory Delaney
So you're the first person to start this rally. Was it back in 2018, Ken?

Ken Four Cloud
Yeah, I think so. I'm not feeling so good today, boys. I'm exhausted.

Rory Delaney
I’m sorry. Do you need some water?


HOST VO
Ken didn’t really feel much like talking to us but Gemma, a 30-something Native American mom waves us over as she saddles a horse. Her ten year old daughter Maya waits patiently in the shade of the trailer.

Gemma 

I just came in from Taos, New Mexico, USA. I'm from Wumaniti Earth native sanctuary. We're a non-profit supporting human rights with hemps and horses. I helped sponsor the bus to get here with the Wounded Knee elders and the sacred oyate drum. And I'm just grateful to be here. This is an incredible horse here. Her name is Raven. We have incredible horses here with us. We're hoping right now to somehow get in a meeting with Deb Haaland. And we'll see you there. Free Leonard Peltier. Freedom Riders 2021.

HOST VO
As the Secretary of the Interior, part of Deb Haaland’s duties include overseeing the Bureau of Indian Affairs. 

But back in April 2020, while serving as a Congresswoman from New Mexico, Ms. Haaland co-wrote a clemency letter on Leonard’s behalf to President Trump.

So that’s why Gemma, Ken and Horse Nation are hoping to get her ear today. 


We trail behind the Freedom Riders as they climb the front steps of BIA headquarters and park their horses by the front door. Within moments, security is on the case. 

Security
Take it to the streets.

Gemma
We're Native Americans. We've come to speak with Deb Haaland. We're here right now to perform a religious freedom ceremony. These are our lands. We've come here in peace. Please call Deb Haaland. Please call Deb Haaland down. From the office.

Security
Y’all need to move the horses. Take the horses down to the street.

Gemma
Please call Deb Haaland. We have our sacred chanupah. We're here to have a meeting with Deb Haaland. Please tell Deb Haaland that we are here. We’re the Leonard Peltier Freedom Riders 2021. Please tell Deb Haaland we are here.

HOST VO
At this point there’s about ten of us on the front steps of BIA headquarters. Gemma, Ken, and a younger gentleman are all on horseback. The rest of us, including Chief Eagle Man, are on foot. 


This is the same BIA building Russel Means, Dennis Banks and Leonard Peltier occupied for a week back when President Nixon was running for re-election in 1972.


The incident was the precursor for the 71-day occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973, which still stands as the longest civil disorder in American history.


Security
Who’s in charge?

Ken Four Cloud
We're all in charge. We're all a group. We're all one.

HOST VO
That’s Ken. We should also mention here that two of the press guys from yesterday are back documenting everything on their phones again. Their ringleader, Mr. Question – Carol’s infiltrator – is MIA.   

Gemma
We've come here for our own human rights, being Native Americans, and this is the Bureau of Indian Affairs. And they should be able to help us hand and knee because we are Native American Indians here. 

HOST VO
The commotion sends a pasty bureaucrat scurrying out of the building. He promises to send someone out to talk with us if the horses are removed from the stairs.

The Freedom Riders comply, and the pencil-pusher disappears inside. But as the minutes tick on, and it becomes clear neither Deb Haaland nor anyone else of any significance is coming out, Ken loses his temper and takes his frustrations out on the hapless security team. 

Ken Four Cloud
What is your job? 

Security
Just wait for the gentleman to come back, sir.

Ken Four Cloud
What is your job? Can you do your job? If you don't identify to me, you're nothing to me. You're just a man standing there with a fucking gun. That ain't shit.

Security
Okay, sir.


Gemma
Why is Deb Haaland not down here? What? Do I need to be Mariah Carey or something?

Ken Four Cloud
They can't identify themselves. 

HOST VO
After twenty minutes or so, a different pasty bureaucrat emerges and engages with Ken.

Bureaucrat 2
You're trying to make trouble now.

Ken Four Cloud
You're a tyrant too then if you're sticking up for this bullshit.

Bureaucrat 2
You guys need to write a letter.

Andrew Fuller
We've written letters. But they don’t respond.

Rory Owen Delaney
They’ve done it. Deb wrote a letter herself last year.

Bureaucrat 2
It's a slow process. 

Chief Black Eagle Man
Yeah it is.

Bureaucrat 2
You guys can't give up.

Chief Black Eagle Man
Never have. Never will. 


HOST VO
Meanwhile, back at the We Can’t Wait rally...

Chase Iron Eyes
We, the indigenous nations, the indigenous peoples, Pueblo Indígenas, [cheers] We, we know that there are no illegals on stolen land. [Applause] We come here in support of clemency and freedom for one of the United States’ political prisoners. They try to keep him quiet. They try to push him under the rug, but we cannot let him be ignored. His name is Leonard Peltier. Thank you for giving us this time. My relatives. Thank you. <LAKOTA>

Crowd
Free Leonard Peltier!


HOST VO
After the break, things get even weirder.


ADVOCACY BREAK #2


Keith Secola
Bonjour. My name is Keith Secola. I’m from the Anishinabe tribe from Northern Minnesota and you’re listening to Leonard. I grew up on an iron range, and I grew up aware of our rights, aware of what happened to our brother Leonard. So I became aware at a very young age, as many singer/songwriters do of our genre. I call it Native Americana genre.  I remember writing with activist Floyd Westerman. And Floyd would say, “Well in the old days, we would just kick them on the shins with truth.” And he says, “Keith, you’re kind of like a pied piper, you make them follow you.” My approach has always been this way, a metaphysical approach. I say we lead people gently to a brutal truth…and I think that’s what’s going to have to happen for Leonard. A lot of people are going to have to come to this metaphysical understanding of what it is, and why he is, and what he’s in jail for. Leonard has become a symbol for native rights and sovereignty and all those things that are important to us. We can define our native rights by defining his. So until we’re all free, we’re not free.


Host VO
It’s Friday, June 25th, 2021, the 145th anniversary of the Battle of Greasy Grass aka the Battle of Little BigHorn.


On this day in history in 1876, Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and more than 200 troopers and scouts from the Crow Tribe were annihilated by a combined force of 1,800 Lakota Sioux and Northern Cheyenne warriors near the Little Bighorn River in present day Montana.


For the Lakota and their leader Crazy Horse, it was an historic victory. For the United States, it was the first capture of an American flag on U.S. soil since the War of 1812 with Great Britain. 


To this day many Lakota are convinced that the massacre at Wounded Knee, 14 years later in 1890, was in part a retaliation for this humiliating military loss.


That’s because the Wounded Knee Massacre was perpetrated by the 7th Calvary, who after disarming the Lakota, shot them down in ditches, showing no mercy to women or children.    

For these deeds, 20 soldiers were awarded Congressional Medals of Honor. But today there is a bill in Congress that would strip these commendations: the “Remove The Stain” Act.  

[SINGING]


Today the Buffalo Soldiers Association is proclaiming their support of the legislation and apologizing for their role in the Wounded Knee massacre to the surviving family members who have traveled all the way from Pine Ridge for the event.


The Uptown Boyz, an intertribal powwow drum group based in Washington DC, kick things off.

[SINGING AND DRUMMING]


Buffalo Soldier 
With solidarity and reverence, the Buffalo Soldiers Associations on behalf of our members, families, and friends, and the descendants of the 9th and 10th cavalry in the 24th and 25th infantry regiments of the US Army proclaim our unwavering support of our Native American brethren and stand for the sentiment embodied in the Remove the Stain Act.


HOST VO
Buffalo Soldier was the nickname given by Native American tribes to the black cavalry who fought in the Indian Wars. It’s also a super dank Bob Marley classic.


Buffalo Soldier
We honor soldiers of all colors, national origins and religions, and we pay our most heartfelt respects to the Native American veterans whose heroics are honored by the solemn National Native American Veterans Memorial that we are blessed to preside at today. 


Buffalo Soldier
The suffering at Wounded Knee Creek has in some ways passed across generations. We know too well that people can remain traumatized today by the atrocities that occurred long in the past. We just mourned the centennial passing of the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921, in which a neighborhood of blacks perished with their homes, promises, businesses and legacies at the hands of a violent white mob. We also understand how reparations, even symbolic ones, can provide restorative healing. Sometimes old scabs must be torn, revealing painful truths before regeneration can take hold.

[UPTOWN BOYZ SINGING] 


HOST VO
Also attending the event are Hawaii Congressman Kai Kahele and Kansas Congresswoman Sharice Davids, who both deliver remarks in support of the Remove the Stain Act.

But the speaker who receives a standing ovation that day is Marcella LeBeau, a 101 year old Native American veteran.


Marcella was an Army nurse and served in World War II on the beaches of Normandy during D-Day, the largest military invasion ever assembled. 


Marcella LeBeau

Our people have been through a lot in this country, beginning with the doctrine of discovery when people came in here, thinking all this land was open and free. They gave us the name, Indian. We are not Indian. We are natives. So many things have happened to us. My great-grandfather fought in the Battle of the Little BigHorn, Rain in the Face. They were defending themselves and they won that battle. And we won that fight. My great-grandfather Poor Bear signed the Fort Laramie treaty of 1868. They gave him an allotment of land, our land. They gave it to him. He was to stay there. And if he left, he would've been shot as a hostile if he didn't have permission to leave and to come back. But I'm looking to the seventh generation to support the Remove the Stain Act. And so this is a great day and our friends, the Buffalo soldiers, we're all together now. And I thank you all for being here. 

[APPLAUSE. UPTOWN BOYZ SINGING AND DRUMMING] 


HOST VO
We text Jean the location of the event, and the bus drops off around 20 Peliter supporters in red Free Leonard t-shirts just in time for the group photos.


During a lull in the action, Jean catches up Chase on developments with the Freedom Riders. 


Jean Roach

You know there's positive to it because they're doing, I guess, they did the thing at the Department of Interior yesterday while we were doing the DACA thing.


Chase Iron Eyes

The horses add the extra spirit.

Jean Roach
Yeah, coming together. When we first walked that first day, yeah, they showed up two hours late and we were waiting. And that guy like, "Be here by eight. I'm going to be here. You guys come or not. We're going." Okay. Well, we're there at eight or seven thirty. I think they showed about nine thirty or ten. But they took off, and the people that are walking can't keep up with horses. So I don’t know if that was on purpose, but it felt like it was. 

Chase Iron Eyes
Yeah. 

Jean Roach
And then, oh yeah, they sent another paper. Because he has those three guys that you guys seen were press and there’s two other ones. 

HOST VO
The day before, one of the so-called press guys said they were with the Veteran Liberty Network. Ever heard of it? Well, neither had we. But the organization was registered in the state of Arkansas in late April 2021; and their website is coming soon. 

Jean Roach
They came and they brought a paper to us that they wrote a letter to all these people and signed it Chief Ken Four Cloud. And we’re like, who's that? You know, don't start naming yourself up here. That was the first red flag. 

Andrew Fuller
Why? Because–

Jean Roach
Because he's not a Chief. And just because he rode doesn't make him a Chief. He don't even respect the people. Really. 


Chase Iron Eyes
I always put sub-chief on my title.

Jean Roach
Oh, I forgot you were chief. [Laughter] Sorry. Eh.

Chase Iron Eyes
I put it in quotations.

HOST VO
There were other red flags with the Freedom Riders too. Jean got a call from a concerned friend after their speaking engagement in St. Louis, which was selected as a stop on the tour because it’s the home of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. 

The same federal court that gifted us Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is where Leonard’s appeal for a new trial was denied back in 1984. 

Jean Roach
When I started hearing stories from one of our organizers out of St. Louis that they were walking on the mounds with the horses. Which is basically a grave site. And I'm like, what the heck is going on here, you know? And that Jackson guy was the main talker. And he didn't say anything about Leonard. And I said, really? And she said, yeah, I even asked the girls I was with, did he say anything about Leonard? And they go "no", so that's why I decided that maybe we should make sure to come. 

HOST VO
That Jackson guy is Kash Jackson, aka Mr. Question, the suspicious character with the press patch who was filming everything on his phone. The one Carol called an infiltrator and agitator. 

Kash is the face of the Veteran Liberty Network. And from what we could decipher he was staying with the Freedom Riders and the Defense Committee at a motel in Rockville, Maryland.

Jean Roach
I told them that we don’t allow no drinking, you know, first of all. Like, you know, come out of the motel, sitting outside is a big ol’ jug of MD 20/20. Hello, you know. That's Rez. I mean, gross. 

Chase Iron Eyes
Yeah.

Jean Roach
And then someone else found a bottle of CLC in one of the grass areas. [SIGH] So yeah. Then he comes up and asks like that. “Well, what do you wanna do today?” I'm like, I don't know, go to the White House. So, we'll see at two. What time is it? 


HOST VO
The tentative plan is for the supporter groups to converge on the White House around 2pm. 

Rory and I split a rideshare back to the Eaton Hotel to drop off Chase, who has to take care of some business for the Lakota People’s Law Project. 

While we’re in the middle of grabbing some lunch, Jean texts and lets us know that shit is going down at the White House, and the cops are threatening arrests. 

We should clarify here that Jean and company aren’t actually at the White House. They’re across the street at Lafayette Square, a seven-acre public park that sits directly north of the White House on H Street.  

When we get there, Mike fills us in on what we missed.

Mike
We called them out real loud with the loudspeaker and they actually came out – about 30 people came out of the front door. Yeah, they came out and we called them out for genocide, for slavery, for failure to honor the treaties, failure to offer reparations to African people, for destroying the earth, for Leonard Peltier being in prison, for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the whole boarding school system in the 19th and 20th centuries. We begged them to please begin the healing by freeing Leonard Peltier.


[SOUND OF HORSES]


VO
The horse riders are on the move after the park police dispatch Animal Control. 

Frank
Yes. If they leave the park, they might not be able to get back in.


VO
That’s Frank, part of the crack press team covering the Peltier Freedom Ride for the Veteran Liberty Network. There is no sign of his colleague, Mr. Question, ie Kash Jackson.

Mike
Free Afghanistan!


VO
As Horse Nation retreats, hundreds of Afghan Americans converge on Lafayette Park to protest the withdrawal from Afghanistan, which was slated to be completed by September 11th, 2021. 


We find Jean nearby on a park bench in the shade with Lana, her wing woman.

Rory Delaney
So what's the plan now?

Jean Roach
Nap time for grandmas. [Laughter]

Rory Delaney
It’s getting hot.


Jean Roach
Yeah. We're waiting for the bus. They're going to pull up, up there, and what time is it, anybody know?


Rory Delaney
It’s about 3 o’clock. I’d guess. Getting close.

Police
Park’s closing. Exit up top.

HOST VO
A bicycle cop rolls by and announces the park’s closing.

Jean Roach
No, I'm sitting here, fuck that. I’m just kidding. I'm waiting for my bus. 

Pam
[laughter] We’re waiting for the bus.


Frank
They're escorting everybody out. They’re corralling them up and pushing them out of the park to close. So now the Freedom Riders are going up to the Capitol.


HOST VO
The police empty Lafayette park and lock up behind us. 


[BUS HONKING]


HOST VO
That’s when the bus rumbles into frame, leaving Andrew and I with a decision. Follow the Freedom Riders or roll with the grannies. 


BLM Activist
(singing) Which side are you on? 


HOST VO
The choice is easy.

Mike
This guy is pointing at us. Let's go quickly, guys. 

Leonard S.
C’mon. Let’s get these sardines in here.

HOST VO
A traffic cop is bugging Mike to get the bus out of a no parking zone, but he’s still loading passengers. 

Jean Roach
Where’s the drumstick? Oh, he has it. Oh that’s Dre. [Laughter]

Mike
Sorry. We're getting out of here right now. Yeah, just picking up. Thank you. 

Duck
Got enough room for one more?

Mike
Always for you, bro.

Pam
There’s enough room for everybody. There’s always room. This is an Indian bus. 

Carol Gokee
We need to protect our elders. They didn't need to go to jail for this. 

Dre
Getting too old for this.

HOST VO
That’s Dre, Jean’s 16 year old grandson, chiming in as Carol holds court.

Carol Gokee
They allowed us to sing and to pray. And we were there probably a good part of an hour before they said, you know what? We've gotta stop this. And we got the Afghanistan supporters on our side. They stood with us. Black Lives Matter. Oh my Gosh. 

Rory Delaney
Where do you want Mike to go?

Jean Roach
Go back down to where we was. We need to find a bathroom!

Duck
Hey, yell out the window.

Passengers
(chanting) Free Leonard Peltier! Free Leonard! Free Leonard Peltier!

HOST VO
After the break, the shit hitteth the fan.


ADVOCACY BREAK #3


Misty Winston
Hi, This is Misty Winston, host of the Misty Winston Show on TNT Radio and you’re listening to “LEONARD,” a podcast series about Leonard Peltier. As a staunch advocate for political prisoners and whistleblowers in the United States and around the world, my ultimate goal is to raise public awareness for the wrongly convicted in order to bring them home once and for all. There is no one more deserving of freedom than Leonard Peltier. Thank you for listening to this podcast, and please continue to spread the word, and encourage your friends to do the same. To hear my radio show tune in to TNTRadio.com or catch me on twitter @SarcasmStardust. To help Leonard, please call the White House comment line at 202-456-1111 Tuesday through Thursday between the hours of 11am and 3pm Eastern Standard time to leave a message for President Biden. Staff is paying close attention to the call volume, so don’t be shy! Let’s make the world a better place and set an innocent man free. Free Leonard Peltier.


HOST VO
It’s Saturday, June 26th. Commemoration day. The hottest, most humid day of the week, reminding everyone why DC is nicknamed the Swamp. 

In the early morning on the National Mall, Chase bumps into Ken Four Cloud, the leader of the Freedom Riders, and interviews him without us. 


Ken Four Cloud
I said, what do I need a permit for? I'm Indian. Indian don't need a permit. I said, where'd Sitting Bull get his permit, tell me that. Where'd Crazy Horse get his permit? And they said, well, it's the health certificate part of it. And then I mentioned to them, did they have the health certificates in 1492 when they came over here?

Chase Iron Eyes
Right. What the heck is going on here? We must’ve lucked out again. There’s some big production going on here.

HOST VO
About three hundred yards away, teamsters are assembling a very large, elevated band stand. 

Chase Iron Eyes
Looks to be like a Black Lives Matter type thing or another. I see that thing that says Black Votes Matter. Somebody paid a lot of money for that stage.


Ken Four Cloud
They were here yesterday too so that’s why we came here again.


HOST VO
Then, out of leftfield, Ken brings up Carol. I guess he needed to vent.


Ken Four Cloud
Carol, um– 


Chase Iron Eyes
Gokee.

Ken Four Cloud
Yeah, Gokee. She's been nothing in trouble for me. I don't even want her around.

Chase Iron Eyes
Oh no. Okay. Alright.

Ken Four Cloud
I'm serious. She just divided the group and stirred up the pot, stirred up shit. Every time Leonard calls she'll get up and run out the door. She won't let me talk to him. And I think she's lying to Leonard and whatever Leonard's saying.

Chase Iron Eyes
Shit, I didn't know that. I’ll have to–

Ken Four Cloud
She started a hate campaign against Kash Jackson. A good buddy of mine. 


HOST VO
Kash Jackson, of course, being Mr. Question, the infiltrator posing as press. Evidently Kash is a Navy vet, who met Ken at Standing Rock during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. But we hadn’t seen the guy anywhere since his day one cameo. 

Ken Four Cloud
They said we're not allowed at their events. So I'd said fine. I'll sleep in the ditch and eat grass. Wouldn't bother me none. I'm used to it.


HOST VO
The rift between the two groups had come to a breaking point, and the Defense Committee had banned the Freedom Riders outright from all future events.  


Of course we had none of that intel because we’re on the other side of the Smithsonian Native American museum talking to Carol on a triangular plot of land we believe is the mythical quadrant 201. 

Carol Gokee
Today we're setting up for a vigil here at the Smithsonian Indian museum. We've got some music with us today. We've actually reached out already to Black Lives Matters. They've invited us to their platform at noon. 


HOST VO
Remember that expensive stage Chase was just rapping about, that’s the platform. It’s the biggest stage we’ve seen since we’ve been in town.


Carol Gokee
We've got the elders a little slow today ‘cuz we were kind of all really tired and just really exhausted. A lot of walking. A lot of running around. A lot of energy. A lot of screaming out the window "Free Leonard". Okay. So I couldn't even talk this morning. So what we're gonna do today is just kind of low key, laid back. We possibly have the Navajo Nation stopping in to show their support. And so Chase is doing his best to round them up and bring them in here.


HOST VO
A couple of older stoner dudes are setting up a small portable sound system to provide music and attract passers-by, but it’s early and most of the museums are closed so it’s Deadsville.

Things go from bad to worse when the park police inform Carol we’re not in our permitted area, the infamous quadrant 201. But really, there is a larger issue. 


Park Ranger
I think really the best approach is going to be if you guys can maybe try to self regulate the horses without our involvement. And obviously, you do what you can. Um, and that's all we can ask. And the, the biggest thing is gonna be just not to interfere with the other event.

Carol Gokee
Absolutely. Totally agree. Thank you very much.


HOST VO
What the nicest park ranger in DC is trying to say is: There’s concern Horse Nation will interfere with the Black Voters Matter rally due to kick off in a couple hours on that mammoth band stand previously mentioned.


After that splash of cold water, the group elects to pack it in and coalesce into the BVM event, where Chase would soon be speaking.


The rally is the last stop on the Freedom Ride for Voting Rights, a nine-city, eight-day tour protesting new voter restriction laws impacting voters of color.

Any minute now, thousands of activists would come marching down Third Street, concluding the 800 mile march which began a week earlier on Juneteenth in Jackson, Mississippi.

Juneteenth is a new federal holiday that commemorates the emancipation of slaves on June 19th, 1865 in Texas, the last state of the Confederacy with institutional slavery.

Black Voters Matter Rally (chanting)
Show me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like.


HOST VO
The demonstrators parade down Third Street in matching red t-shirts with picket signs that read “Protect Our Freedom to Vote”.
 
We film them from the front of the pack until three Freedom Riders swoop in from the side on horseback, cutting off the marchers and trotting right into our shot. 

Because Ken and his cavalry aren’t wearing Peltier shirts or anything recognizably political, no one knows what the hell is going on. Least of all, Andrew and I, who distance ourselves from Horse Nation and disappear in the crowd.


Demonstrators
(chanting) Whose streets!? Our streets!!

HOST VO

That’s when I remember I left our camera bag with the hard drives containing all of our footage under a tree back at the improvised base camp. While I rush back to secure it, Andrew follows the BVMers toward the stage area, where he encounters Ken and the other Freedom Riders again. But they have a new friend. And he’s baffling the largely African American crowd. 

This is the first time I spy the man in the American flag cape and Michael Myers mask. He’s holding hands with Ken and another rider in a sort of prayer. It was weird. Really weird.

Mark Thompson
(chanting) Union power!
(chanting) Black voters matter! 


HOST VO
That’s the emcee for the day: the Reverend Mark Thompson, a prominent African American political activist, analyst, and commentator, who you’ll recognize from the cable news circuit.

Mark Thompson
(chanting) Unite here. Amen. We've got a whole list of speakers. Then we got some go-go music. Alright. 

HOST VO
Rory and I reunite with Chase and the group at the side of the stage just as they are being escorted in, in preparation for their appearance.

Organizer
Here follow me, sir. How you doing today?

Chase Iron Eyes
I'm doing great. This is amazing.


Jean Roach
I am excited!


HOST VO
That’s Jean. And she’s not the only one. We’re all buzzing.


Chase Iron Eyes 
Bro, they're gonna give us like two minutes up there. So we’ll sing – I'll speak – and we'll sing for like a minute. Then we'll be done.


Dre
Okay.


HOST VO
Chase relays details to Jean’s grandson, Dre, who is helping to carry the sacred oyate drum. 

Mark Thompson
We all know the story of Leonard Peltier. We also say we are in utter solidarity with all movements for justice. We want to free Leonard Peltier. Everybody say free Leonard Peltier! 

Crowd
Free Leonard Peltier! 

Mark Thompson
Free Leonard Peltier!

Crowd
Free Leonard Peltier!

Mark Thompson
We welcome, now, the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee.


HOST VO
Chase, Jean, Dre, Carol, Mike, Wendy, the Wounded Knee grannies, and another 20 or more Peltier supporters take to the stage with the sacred oyate drum.


Chase Iron Eyes

All freedom, to all the people. All power – all power to all the people. [Applause] We've made a lot of progress, my relatives. [LAKOTA] My name is Chase Iron Eyes from the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee. What you see behind me is all of our relatives. We want you to know that we are in this struggle with you. [Applause] We know that black is beautiful. We know that you are our beautiful African indigenous brothers and sisters. We know that you have a connection to the sacred universe. You have power within you, just like we do. But we also know we cannot settle for platitudes. Juneteenth is a marker of progress. It shows that the President of the United States, the Congress, the Senate, they cannot ignore our power together. We put them in office and they must do more than Juneteenth. They must free all political prisoners. Just like Mumia Abu Jamal, Sundiata Akoli. Matulu Shakur. Jaleel Muntakeen. Leonard Peltier is doing all of our time and we can't stop. We won't stop. We cannot stop. We won't stop. We know that black votes matter. This is our moment, our relatives. This is our moment. They cannot ignore us. We are power together. Undeniable, unconquerable, dignified power. My name is Chase Iron Eyes. We're going to offer a song for all of our relatives here. Hold your hands up and connect with us as we send our voice. [LAKOTA] Wopila tanka a chichapalo.


Carol Gokee / Jean Roach
He’s not with us. Get him off. He’s not with us. Get him off the stage! Security, get him off!


HOST VO
Just as Chase concludes his remarks, and the sacred oyate drum begins banging out the AIM song, Captain Cuckoo barges to the front of the stage in his American flag cape, Navy uni, and Michael Myers mask.


While security sits on their hands, Jean jumps into action, pulling off Cuckoo’s mask, revealing his identity. It’s Carol’s agitator. The Big Cheese over at the Veteran Liberty Network. Ken’s good buddy from Standing Rock. Kash Jackson.  


Before Kash can react, Wendy flips the American flag cape over his head and throws his cell phone, wallet and other pocket remnants into the screaming crowd.


CROWD
Why he is still up there? Get him off of the stage! 

HOST VO
As this is all unfolding, the Reverend Mark Thompson comes on stage to reason with Kash. 


That’s when Kash starts undressing, drops to his knees and raises up his hands like Christ at his crucifiction.


Kash Jackson

They took my babies. They took my babies. Let me speak! They took my babies!


HOST VO
That’s Kash yelling “They took my babies” and “Let me speak.”


At this point the co-founder of the group Black Voters Matter has seen enough, and positions herself in front of Kash with a yard sign held above her head. 


She’s LaTosha Brown, one of Glamour Magazine’s women of the year.


One by one folks join LaTosha in front of the stage, raising signs, flags, and whatever else is handy, to obfuscate Kash’s antics from the crowd, which cheers when security finally removes him from the stage. 


Kash Jackson
Let me speak!


Chuck
Get this asshole outta here!


[APPLAUSE]


BVM Activist
What a fucking idiot!

Chase Iron Eyes
Feel that wind bless you, my relatives. All power to all the people, all power to all the people. My relatives, we want to free all political prisoners. [Lakota]

Mike
Sorry about that guy. He's not with us. Thank you all so much!

Mark Thompson
Let's hear it for the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee. [APPLAUSE]

Mark Thompson
Now – our white brother who was up here, lemme just say this. I tried to talk to him. He sounds like he had an issue, but I couldn't get him to focus on it.

Chase Iron Eyes
What in the fuck was all that?


HOST VO
That’s Chase walking off stage. In disbelief like everyone there that day.

Mark Thompson
I'm not sure what's going on with him, but I said to him, you know, you can't – it's disrespectful to cut off other speakers. Right? And if you have an issue, just tell us what it is and we'll consider whether to join you in unity with it, alright? 

Chase Iron Eyes
[Laughter] That was a microcosm.


Mark Thompson
Let's give the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee another round of applause. We cannot forget about the struggle of the Indigenous People.


HOST VO
As we decompress, LaTosha Brown makes her way over to Chase in a show of solidarity. 

LaTosha Brown
When we work together what happens? We can shut it down, that's all. We had y'alls back. We y’all’s friends.

Chase Iron Eyes
Thank you.

LaTosha Brown
That's alright. It was beautiful. Thank you for your offering. Thank you for your prayer. 

Chase Iron Eyes
It worked out. Let me get a selfie with you.

LaTosha Brown
Alright. Power to the people y’all!

Jean Roach
What the hell was that about?

Chase Iron Eyes
The creator is blessing our path but also throwing these challenges in there, you know, just making us all wonder how is that happening? Like what is going on here? And I couldn't even, I was like, what the fuck is going on? You know what, I'm just going to sing, y'know? [laughing]

Jean Roach
What's that guy's name?

Chase Iron Eyes
That's Kash!

Jean Roach
Oh yeah. I know. I forgot.


Dre
But what’s his real name? 


HOST VO
Benjamin Winderweedle. His real name is Benjamin Winderweedle. But that must not have sounded cool enough to run for governor on the Libertarian ticket in Illinois back in 2018 so he changed it to Grayson Kash Jackson. 


Chase Iron Eyes
They sabotaged what the fuck you guys organized there. It's not good for Leonard. It's just not.

Chris
It's just chaos.

Chuck
Actually. You know what Chase? He didn't mess up the event. As a matter of fact, it went on longer. The people loved it. The guy, the emcee came out afterwards and said, something's wrong with that cat? It was a – it's a beautiful story.

Chase Iron Eyes
Okay, he played a role. In some crazy way. That’s how I have to–

Jean Roach
It looks like, yeah, it looks like – well to me, it's like the Peltier committee's always being attacked. That's why I came because I didn't trust the Freedom Riders.

Chase Iron Eyes
I’m so glad you came. We were just thinking about it last night.

Jean Roach
When they went to St. Louis, they didn't represent Leonard Peltier. They went in and he was doing the talking. Talking about DSS and his children. Nothing about Peltier. That's why I was like, what the hell? 


HOST VO
We did some googling on Benjamin Winderweddle alias Kash Jackson and it appears that after his divorce he was denied visitation rights allegedly for failure to pay child support and domestic abuse. Which is presumably why he changed his name to run for governor of Illinois. 

Since then Jackson threatened the lives of two judges presiding over his case in family court, threats which landed him behind bars in Arkansas where he is currently awaiting extradition to Illinois as far as we can tell. 


We should also clarify here that Kash spells his name with a K. Not a C. The way cool people spell it. Ie Johnny Cash, Australian tennis icon Pat Cash, or the New Orleans’ rap supergroup Cash Money Millionaires. 

Nope, it’s Kash. With a K. And not a backwards one like Korn, leaving us to wonder whether or not his unconventional spelling is supposed to be an alt right dog whistle, or just bad taste? We couldn’t be sure.


But what we did know is that just the day before, Kash’s associate, Frank, bragged they had boots on the ground during the January 6th attack on the Capitol, an attack that we now know was instigated by white supremacist agitators. 


Jean Roach
But then again, it shows how we're attacked by white supremacy which that guy looks like.

Chase Iron Eyes
Like he tried to, he tried to steal the show. You know what I mean, like? Overpower–

Jean Roach
Well he's lucky I didn't kick him in the back like I felt like, really. I pulled off the mask.

Chase Iron Eyes
You were about ready to fucking–

Jean Roach
I pulled the mask off and Wendy grabbed the flag.

Chase Iron Eyes
You know what. I heard somebody say, you're not supposed to be here. Then I looked down and it's fucking Kash. 

Jean Roach
It was really funny.

Chase Iron Eyes
Maybe these guys are operatives. Provocateurs.

Jean Roach
That's what I'm saying too.

Chase Iron Eyes
Maybe they are.

Jean Roach
I feel like they they were.

Chase Iron Eyes
Fucking infiltrate one of the arms of the movement, the horse ride. I was trying to make peace with them and they like go and shit on us like that, man.


HOST VO
So either we met an undercover federal agent or your garden variety backyard luchador slash white supremacist agitator in an American flag cape, Navy uni and Michael Myers mask.


As we reflected on all the craziness, we grew increasingly suspicious of some of the Freedom Riders motives, specifically Kash and his entourage of rednecky white vets.

Supposedly they were participating in the Freedom Ride to support Ken in his mission to raise awareness about Leonard. But reportedly they didn’t even mention Leonard at the stop in St. Louis. All Kash had talked about was DSS. What does DSS have to do with Leonard? 


Nothing. It’s a total non sequitur. If Kash were genuinely concerned with family court reform, there are a lot more effective ways to influence decision makers than piggybacking on the Peltier Freedom Ride and shoehorning your own personal bugaboos into the discourse.


That’s why we don’t believe that they were there to help Leonard. We believe they were there to discredit him by muddying the waters and sowing division. 


Why else would Kash get on stage at a Black Voters Matter rally in that outrageous costume? No one could honestly believe dressing like the KKK’s Phantom of the Opera was going to amplify his message and get him heard that day. 


Which leads us to the conclusion that maybe what we had just witnessed was the FBI’s version of COINTELPRO in 2021. Maybe it was all just an elaborate stunt to sabotage a powerful political moment for Leonard. Or maybe it was just a random episode of mental illness?


We’ll likely never know, but it wouldn’t be the first time the Feds infiltrated a political movement. Earlier we referenced their infiltration of the Black Panthers, but the Bureau also infiltrated AIM. 

One of their most famous informants was Douglass Durham, a white guy from Iowa who passed himself off as a Native American and became AIM’s first national director of security. 


In 1974, Durham secretly relayed information to the government while Dennis Banks and Russel Means were on trial in Minnesota for their roles in the Wounded Knee occupation. 


According to WKLDOC attorney Ken Tilsen, “There was no person other than defense counsel and the defendants themselves who knew more about the total plans, concerns, and stratagems of the defense than Douglass Durham.”


Although Means and Banks were ultimately acquitted on all charges, a lot of damage had already been done. In the days before Durham’s exposure, 28 AIMsters were arrested on a single weekend, crippling the organization in the years to come.


Durhams’ exposure as an informant and agent provocateur attracted the attention of Idaho Senator Frank Church, who created the Church Committee in January 1975 to investigate reports of domestic spying in the FBI, NSA and CIA.


On May 2nd, 1975, Durham was interviewed by Senate staff who then subpoenaed him to testify before the full Committee.


On June 23rd, Attorney General Edward Levi received a formal letter laying out the Committee’s intention to conduct interviews with the former Bureau informant. 


But on June 27th, one day after the Oglala firefight, these plans were abandoned. And thus, the Church committee’s investigation of COINTELPRO and AIM came to a sudden and unfortunate end in what is a curious timeline to say the least.


But there’s something else you should know about Durham. He was a disgraced cop. 


Following the unexplained death of his first wife in 1964, the Des Moines police dismissed him from the force after he was diagnosed as a paranoid schizoid personality with violent tendencies who was unfit for employment involving the public trust.


The Des Moines police thought he knocked off his woman. Which means the FBI thought he did too. 


So if the FBI was willing to work with an alleged killer like Durham, they’d be willing to work with an alleged deadbeat like Kash Jackson. His mental fragility gives the Bureau exactly what they’d want from a provocateur or agitator: plausible deniability.


These are the thoughts racing through our minds as we try to process the events of the past few days when a long time Leonard supporter emerges from the crowd. 


Shahin
I've known Leonard's case for more than 40 years.


HOST VO
This is Shahin, a physics professor at a small college in Pennsylvania.


Shahin

This is the only murder case I know in United States that he was convicted on circumstantial evidence. That’s illegal. And the other illegal thing is that if you are in the federal penitentiary, you have to be located close to where you families are. South Dakota, Minnesota there. Florida here. Why? Torture. Mental torture. 


Shahin
So yeah, I'm an absolute supporter of Mr. Peltier. He is my brother. I even was telling lady, I'm retiring next year. I'm willing to go to jail. If they let him go. Yeah, I'll go to jail, take a couple of books because that's all I read, he can go join his family.


HOST VO
We were all upset and shaken by what had transpired on stage. But maybe there was a silver lining. 


Maybe the stunt had backfired. Sure, it succeeded in driving a wedge between the Freedom Riders and the Defense Committee, but it also brought the rest of us closer through a shared experience. 


Shahin was living proof. He was energized by everything he’d witnessed. And more of that good medicine is exactly what will be needed to embolden President Biden to set aside the protests of the FBI, and with the flick of a wrist, right an incredible wrong that after nearly half a century behind bars would give one man some modicum of justice.


HOST VO
This episode is dedicated to Larry Hildes, who passed away in November 2021 after battling a long illness. 


CREDITS


This podcast is produced, written, and edited on Tongva land by Rory Owen Delaney and Andrew Fuller. Kevin McKiernan serves as our consulting producer. 


Thanks to Wendy Weiner for portraying the FBI’s Betsy Glick. Thanks to Bobby Halvorson for the original music we’re using throughout this series. And thanks to Mike Casintini at the Network Studios for his engineering assistance, and to Peter Lauridsen and Sycamore Sound for their audio mixing. 


Special thanks to the hostess with the mostest, Guarina Lopez-Davis, for her incredible generosity. And thanks, most of all, to Leonard Peltier.


To get involved and help Leonard, go to whoisleonardpeltier.info or find us on social media. @leonard_pod on Twitter and Instagram, or facebook.com/leonardpodcast.


This podcast is a production of Man Bites Dog Films LLC. Free Leonard Peltier!