WASHINGTON - A controversial statue representing the likeness of a convicted murderer has been put up on the campus of American University.
The 9-foot statue of depicting Native American activist Leonard Peltier stands in front of the Katzen Arts Center. Peltier was found guilty of murdering two FBI agents in 1977.
For years, there have been efforts to grant him clemency. Now, there is a new push to seek a pardon from President Barack Obama before he leaves office.
According to the Leonard Peltier Statue Project website, the goal of the project is to honor him as a "symbol of Native struggle for self-determination in North America." They believe Peltier was wrongly sentenced to two life terms and seek to raise awareness about his story.
The artist of the statue, Rigo 23, has used Peltier’s self-portraits to create the statue carved from redwood, which was dedicated during Human Rights Week. Peltier has been designated a political prisoner by Amnesty International.
However, many find great trouble with the efforts to free Peltier and believe his convictions were fair.
“When I see this, I’m outraged because I know to the extent that anybody could possibly know that this man received a fair trial, is guilty in the crime he was charged with, and is serving a sentence that is proportionate to the crime he committed,” said Steve Pomerantz, former assistant director for the FBI. “He’s still alive. Those two agents are dead. He is a grandfather. They will never be grandfathers. He committed this crime and he killed those agents in cold blood.”
American University said they are not taking a stance on the statue:
"The university sees this statue as an exhibited piece of art and takes no position on the advocacy movement.”