American University Removes Controversial Statue From CampusBy Emily Marks, UniversityHerald Reporter
American University will be removing the statue of Leonard Peltier, who was convicted of killing two FBI agents. This comes after the school faced intense criticism after its installation. Local source WTOP.com reported that the statue of Leonard Peltier was placed in the campus last month. Clemency activists believe that prosecutors in Peltier's trial forced witnesses and withheld evidence.
This has sparked outrage in the school community, though. Peltier was convicted in the killings of two FBI agents, Jack Coler and Ron Williams on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1975. It was noted that the two agents attempted to pull over a car with Peltier in it. They were shot in the head at close range, though, before they were able to get out of their car.
Afterwards, Coler's gun was found in a vehicle used by Peltier in Oregon. His thumb print was on the bag that contained the gun. He was apprehended and convicted of two life sentences. Tom O'Connor, president of the FBI Agents Association, said that the agents were executed. He sent a letter to American University requesting the school to remove the statue.
According to Fox 5 News, the Leonard Peltier statue was taken down on Tuesday. The university issued a statement saying that they still support their Art Museum's mission to be thought-provoking and educational.
However, the institution clarified that the statue may have improperly suggested that the school has become a clemency advocate for Peltier. The publication added that the museum offered to help the artist find another organization willing to exhibit the art.
The Washington Times noted that, earlier this month, the university announced the statue's installment as "part of a major clemency push by supporters." President Obama pardoned over 70 people last month and has shortened the sentences of more than 150 others.
Peltier's case, though, was condemned by groups like Amnesty International, the Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights and the Soviet Peace Committee. Some Hollywood celebrities also believe that he should be released.