Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello has written a letter to President Clinton, requesting executive clemency for imprisoned Indian activist Leonard Peltier, who has been in jail since 1975 for charges stemming from the death of two FBI agents at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
Morello wrote the letter at the behest of the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, an organization determined to free Peltier on the grounds that he was denied a fair trial and access to government documents that have could been used in his defense.
Representatives for Peltier originally filed a motion for Executive Clemency in 1993, but President Clinton has yet to review the case, even though such decisions are usually made within six months to a year after receiving such a request. Peltier's Defense Committee hopes to have him out of prison in time for Christmas, and have set December 19 as the first day of a planned civil disobedience campaign that will be staged to help
free the activist.
In the past, artists and celebrities ranging from Ani DiFranco to Robbie Robertson have staged benefits and concerts to raise awareness to the plight of Peltier. In 1992, Robert Redford produced a documentary about what happened to Peltier at Pine Ridge Reservation, entitled "Incident at Oglala," and while incarcerated at a federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas, Peltier recently phoned in a vocal part that was includes on Robertson's current album, "Contact From the Underworld Of Redboy."
In related news, Rage Against the Machine is currently at work on its third album, the follow-up to 1996's "Evil Empire," with veteran Pearl Jam producer Brendan O'Brien, and hope to have the new record out early next year.