Friday, July 6, 2007

Arlo Looking Cloud given heroin before so-called video confession

Arlo Looking Cloud Interview
February 2004
Pennington County Jail Rapid City, South Dakota

by David Seals

"It was a set-up, Man, all the way," Arlo said, in the first of several 10-minute collect phone calls he made from the Pennington County Jail in Rapid City, where he's awaiting an April 23 mandatory life sentence for his February 6 conviction of the murder of Anna Mae Aquash in 1975. "Who were they covering up for? They're covering up for someone." "Who?" I asked. "I don't know." Later that night we were allowed a 20-minute face-to-face talk on telephones with a glass window between us, in Cellblock Two, booth 2B. We got into that all-important matter of "Who" again: for if he didn't kill her then who did? His Trial had shown a police videotape with him confessing to it, and several witnesses swore under oath he told them he'd done it. It was much less clear what he thought the role of John Graham was in all of it, as the U.S. Prosecution claims. Graham is a Canadian Native awaiting Extradition to South Dakota as a co-accused in the 1st degree homicide charge. "Yeah, so, they were covering up, but who were they covering up for, you mean?" I asked. "Well, I know who was covering up, my lawyer Tim Rensch. He was in collusion with the Government." We slowly got around to the damning police videotape that was shown in court, of an interrogation of Arlo in the Denver Police Dept. on March 27,2003, in which he confessed to it and said Graham pulled the trigger. What was noticeable about the tape, as I watched it in horror in the U.S. Federal Court in the 4-day trial Feb. 3-6, was that he was almost incoherent, and the police were asking a lot of leading questions. And he had no lawyer present. "What about the videotape?" He grinned at me behind the glass, a handsome fullblood Lakota with classic Sitting Bull good looks and long black hair. "I was drunk. They were giving me drugs and alcohol. Abe Alonzo, the big Denver cop who's going around acting like a hero, claiming he captured me, knew where I was every day. He met me at the liquor store every day and bought me the booze, and gave me drugs. I was really into Chiba. You know what Chiba is?" he grinned again, giving me a hard con's eye stare. "No." "Heroin. I loved that stuff. He was getting it for me. All I wanted." "So the videotape and confession ..." "They were all fucked up. I told Rensch that, but he didn't use it in court. Rensch didn't use a lot of questions I asked him to. I told him a lot of stuff but he didn't use it in the trial. I don't know why. I didn't even see a witness list until the last day, and they had a mock-trial back in December, December 16 I think, to practice everything, but I didn't even get a copy of the questionnaires. I didn't know anything. They didn't tell me anything. " And how did John Graham's name ever come up? "That's where Ecoffey perjured himself on the Stand." {Robert Ecoffey is the U.S. Marshall who originally brought Looking Cloud's and Graham's names out 10 years ago, and he testified at the trial} "He said Gladys Bissonnette and Al Gates first told him my name in 1994. No. No. It was Pat Janis, his close relative who told Ecoffey. Pat is married to Angie Begay. Angie Begay is a Navajo woman who was married to John Graham back in the 70s. Maybe it was some jealous woman's thing that got all this started, I'm not sure. There's always a lot of gossip around Pine Ridge and Indian Country. Angie was also married to Dennis Banks, did you know that? They had a daughter, Arrow Banks, she's a grown woman now." "Angie Begay also testified in the trial, didn't she? Yeah, she's the one who said she saw Annie Mae tied to a board and carrried out of the Denver house of Troy Lynn Yellow Wood." "Yeah." "But Troy Lynn herself testified she didn't see Annie tied up or anything. She left willingly on her own. And that's when you and John and Theda Clark took Annie to Pine Ridge?" "Yeah, I guess so. I didn't know her or John very well." He just shook his head like it was all bullshit. His lawyer said in court Arlo went to visit a friend Tony Red Cloud in Rapid City and wasn't even with Annie after they dropped her off at a safe house on Pine Ridge, 100 miles away from Rapid City. "I never saw her again, or even John Boy, I don't think. I'm not sure." "You never saw them again, after you dropped Annie off at a house on Pine Ridge?" "No." It was all pretty contradictory to what had come out in court, and he could see I was confused. "Richard Two Elk. Who's he? He has said for years you told him you and John killed her?" "I barely knew him." "He said he was your brother and you grew up on the reservation all your life?" Arlo laughed. "He's lying about everything. I barely knew him. We never grew up together or anything else. I'd run into him in Denver a few times at my Aunt's {Troy Lynn} and we'd go outside and smoke a joint and then go back inside. That was all. We never talked. You know, he was always going around tape-recording everybody, why doesn't he have a tape of me or anybody else? He doesn't know anything." "He testified and said he was with you when you talked to Annie's daughter on the phone, Denise Maloney from Nova Scotia, and told her you killed Annie, you and John Boy killed her?" Arlo shook his head. "I don't even remember that. I couldn't believe it when I heard it in court." "Two Elk said, and Denise testified too, that they called her. Paul Demain called her and said you wanted to talk to her, and he vouched for it and Demain vouched for Two Elk that he was Arlo's trusted brother. So Denise and her sister Debbie got on the phone." Arlo shook his head. "Set-up. Same with John Trudell {a longtime AIM leader who also testified Arlo told him he'd killed Annie}. Me and my Aunt went up to his hotel room {in Denver in 1988} and his bodyguard said, uh, we can go outside and smoke a doob. So we went down to the street, to his car or something. Trudell, you know, in court he looked to me like he was coming down from the morning's high. He was sweating and nervous." Arlo also wanted to tell me about several startling visits he'd had after the trial from FBI agents and other government lawyers. They wanted him to sign affidavits on other suspects but he refused to sign anything. He said he thought one of the lawyers, a tall man in a suit, was the notorious 1970s COINTELPRO double-agent Douglas Durham. "Are you sure it was him?" "Yeah, pretty sure. We'd all seen him around a lot in AIM. He was tall." It all went back, in the end, to that question of "Who". Why did the U.S. Attorney McMahon raise the issue of Leonard Peltier so much in the trial, putting irrelevant witnesses like Kamook Banks on the stand? She last saw Anna Mae Aquash alive in November 1975, well before even the Government said she was killed by Graham and Looking Cloud and Clark on December 12. But Kamook implicated Peltier all over again in the deaths of 2 FBI agents at a famous shootout on Pine Ridge a few months before Aquash turned up dead. The Trial inflamed local anit-Indian and anti-AIM feelings, including in the jury, by bringing up Peltier's name and the whole history of AIM's stormy involvement with the FBI. Local Indian sentiment in South Dakota pretty much agrees with Arlo Looking Cloud's feelings, that he didn't get a fair trial and that justice has not even begun to be served for Anna Mae. They point to the fact that the defense lawyer only called one witness for the defense, and that was an FBI agent; whereas the prosecution called 23 witnesses against Looking Cloud and Graham. Indians wonder why Theda Clark hasn't been charged and arrested too. They wonder why family members weren't called to testify about Arlo's character and heritage, and finally, why Arlo himself was not allowed to testify on his own behalf. "Rensch wouldn't let me talk, Man. He wouldn't let me testify at my own trial."
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