22 May 1995
Producers of "America's Most Wanted"
Washington D.C. Fax: 202-895-3280
Re: Fatal shootings at Round Valley Indian Reservation, Covelo, Ca.
Dear Mr. or Mrs.
Our organisation recently became aware of the April 14th fatal shootings at the Round Valley Indian Reservation in Covelo, California, resulting in the death of three people and followed by a full scale, military-like manhunt for an alleged cop-killer.
As we understood, your network will broadcast a reconstruction of the events in an episode of "America's Most Wanted", on Saturday May 27.
We were informed that the reconstruction you did was based solely on information obtained from "official" sources and that your network did not consult any witness, such as, Cyndi Pickett, the widow of Leonard Peters, who died in the same shooting as Deputy Bob Davis.
Considering the climate of fear and terror on the Round Valley Indian Reservation, caused by dozens of heavily armed law enforcement officers including a helicopter-supported Sonoma County SWAT team, FBI agents, California Highway Patrol, and officers from nearby counties, cities and state agencies, we herewith want to express our concern for the (prejudicial) effect this item might have on the audience and the residents of Round Valley.
Looking at the events following the shootings, Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota comes to mind, where the U.S. government in the mid seventies not only harassed the local residents in a similar way, they also manipulated the media, and turned a relatively fair and impartial judicial system into a tool of political repression against Native Americans. The government was even willing to use evidence that was tampered with, to secure the conviction of certain Native Americans.
"Through the U.S. Constitution, the Bill or Rights, and the structure of its judicial system, the United States asserts that all persons within its borders shall be protected against arbitrary arrest and shall be ensured a fair trial by an independent and impartial tribunal." This hasn't been always true for the Native American population.
We urge you not to stir up a hornets' nest and to stop the item being broadcasted, until you have investigated all of the details.
The information we received from the Round Valley Community Support Coalition, along with this letter, will be forwarded to the Dutch Section of Amnesty International with the request to inform their office in London.
Frits F. Terpstra
cc: Amnesty International (Dutch Section)
NANAl (Dutch Actiongroup North American Indians)
NClV (Dutch Center for Indigenous Peoples)
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