December 19, 2012

Common, Moore speak for Peltier

Cliff Matias at the ‘Bring Leonard Peltier Home 2012’ Event in NYC

By Cliff MatiasI stood outside for 15 minutes, already 10 minutes into the scheduled start time of the show. The stress was mounting but all of that was about to change: A black SUV pulled up to the stage entrance with superstar rapper and film actor, Common. He walked up to all the staff standing in the back alley and started shaking hands and giving hugs. When he reached me I said, “Hi” and told him I was doing a story for Indian Country Today Media Network. I asked him how he’d gotten involved with Leonard’s struggle.

“I got a call from a dear friend and mentor, Mr. Harry Belafonte, who schooled me on Leonard’s situation and asked for my help. I just had to be a part of this fight for justice.”

He mentioned that working with the Native actors on the television show Hell on Wheels gave him a respect for American Indians. Common then paused for a moment, looked down, and noticed my motorcycle riding-vest, which says “First Nations” across the top. Then he said “Yeah, first nations. I’ve learned a lot about the culture and a respect for the first nations people.”

Later on that evening, when Common rocked the crowd along with his surprise guest artist Mos Def, he said, “I’m here to support Leonard and fight against the injustices to first nations people.”

As Common and I spoke off the record about various things, Michael Moore walked in past us. Common said, “Hey, that’s Michael Moore. Yo, Mike, how you doing?” Not sure if he knew who Common was, but Moore said hello.

Now was my moment to get a one-on-one with Michael Moore. I started by asking him how and why he was involved in this project. Michael said, “I have been following Leonard’s case for a long time, and I must lend my voice and support to this American travesty of injustice.” Later on in the evening Michael would speak not only about the Peltier case but also gun violence in America, and how earlier in the day a madman walked into a school in Connecticut and killed 26 people, including 20 children.
Comment:  For more on Leonard Peltier, see Jackson Browne to Headline Peltier Concert and 43rd National Day of Mourning.

Below:  "Michael Moore speaks at ‘Bring Leonard Peltier Home 2012’ Event in NYC." (Cliff Matias)

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