Arlo Looking Cloud
Fritz Arlo Looking Cloud
March 25, 1954
|Organization||American Indian Movement|
|Known for||Murder of AIM Activist Anna Mae Aquash|
|Relatives||American Horse (relative)|
Johnny Looking Cloud (father)
Joe American Horse, Sr. (Grandfather)
Richard Two Elk (adopted brother)
|Website||Friends and Supporters of Arlo Looking Cloud|
Arlo Looking Cloud (born Fritz Arlo Looking Cloud; March 25, 1954) was a Native American activist. He is perhaps best known for his involvement with the murder of fellow American Indian Movement activist Anna Mae Aquash.
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Murder of Anna Mae Aquash
Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash was a female activist within the ranks of the American Indian Movement. On 12 December 1975, Looking Cloud, along with Theda Nelson Clarke and John "John Boy Patton" Graham, forced Aquash into the back of a car and drove her to a remote part of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where Aquash was shot execution style in the back of the head and left to die. Her body was discovered on 24 February 1976 on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation at the bottom of a ravine located in close proximity to an isolated highway.
Aquash was revealed to have been shot dead; the muzzle of the gun had been pressed into the back of her neck, as the autopsy revealed. The coroner's report indicated that in addition to the fatal gunshot wound, exposure contributed to the death of Aquash.
On 27 March 2003, Looking Cloud, who was a 49-year-old homeless man, was seen walking down Colfax Avenue by Denver police detective, Abe Alonzo. Looking Cloud was subsequently arrested on a warrant issued by federal authorities in South Dakota, in which Looking Cloud and another man were accused of shooting Pictou-Aquash during a kidnapping in December 1975 near Wanblee, South Dakota.
United States v. Looking Cloud
Darlene Nichols testified that Leonard Peltier, an AIM activist who was convicted of killing two FBI agents in the Jumping Bull Compound Shootout (officially designated RESMURS by the FBI), told her and Aquash that he killed two FBI agents during a June 1975 shootout (known as the Jumping Bull Compound Shootout) at a Pine Ridge ranch. According to Ecoffey's testimony, "He said the (expletive) was begging for his life, but I shot him anyway." According to Nichols-Ecoffey, she, along with Leonard Peltier, her sisters Bernie Nichols-Lafferty and Barbara Robideau, then-husband Dennis Banks and others were riding in a recreational vehicle lent to the American Indian Movement by the Hollywood actor Marlon Brando when Peltier recounted this event. Nichols also testified to how she had heard Peltier say he thought Aquash was a snitch.
During the trial, Nichols testified as to several incidents of violence involving the American Indian Movement. Three of these incidents, The Custer Courthouse Riot Incident which involved several hundred people, the seventy-one day occupation of Wounded Knee, and a shoot-out near her home which killed two FBI agents. Nichol also discussed suspicions nearly twenty members of the American Indian Movement had of Aquash being an informant, or were at least acquainted with the rumor. Nichols also testified that several members, one of whom had already threatened Aquash's life because he suspected she was an informant, took Aquash away for weeks to "watch her," explaining that was constantly under the surveillance of the American Indian Movement, was not allowed to go anywhere alone, and was not permitted to go home despite her requests to do so. Mathalene White Bear, another former member of the American Indian Movement who provided shelter to Aquash in 1975, testified that Aquash believed her life was in danger as early as September of that year. Darlene Nichols testified that Leonard Crow Dog and Leonard Peltier thought Aquash was an informant, and that Nichols, her daughter, and Dennis Banks, heard Peltier say he thought Aquash was an informant.
For his involvement in the murder of Aquash, Looking Cloud confessed that he drove Aquash from Denver to Rapid City and then to the location where Aquash was murdered; however, he alleged that he knew nothing of the plan to execute Aquash, and that it was AIM member John Graham, alias John Boy Patton, who shot Aquash.
Richard Two Elk would later provide testimony in the federal trial involving the murder of activist Annie Mae Pictou-Aquash. Two Elk provided testimony which indicated that Arlo Looking Cloud contacted him around the autumn of 1994, asking for advice on how to respond to authorities who were delving deeper into the mystery of Aquash's murder, in Two Elk stated that Looking Cloud admitted to being involved in the case. Two Elk stated that he believed his adopted brother was involved in the murder of Anna Mae and that over the years, Looking Cloud was only "acting on orders."
In 2005, Looking Cloud appealed the verdict to the United States Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, but the appeal was struck down and his mandatory life prison term life-sentence was upheld and affirmed.
In August 2011, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Piersol signed an order which reduced Looking Cloud's original life-sentence term to 20 years in exchange for previous testimony given to state prosecutors during December 2010 against co-conspirator John Graham. Looking Cloud's testimony provided further insight into the murder of Aquash, with Looking Cloud alleging that he stood nearby while Graham shot Aquash.
The court proceedings against Looking Cloud have left lingering divisions. There are some factions who believe that Looking Cloud was innocent. According to Russell Means, American Indian Movement founder and member, racism was at the heart the federal jury conviction of Looking Cloud. He was quoted as saying, "Racism continues. Our culture is disregarded and not included, and one of the most pathetic men in the city of Denver is given the sole responsibility for the murder ordered by a leader of the American Indian Movement. I'm just thoroughly disgusted and supremely disappointed."
Looking Cloud alleges he was given alcohol and heroin prior to having a confession "coerced" out of him.
On 28 April 2005, in a handwritten letter, Looking Cloud alleged that his trial attorney, Timothy Rensch, conspired with Bruce Ellison, an attorney for Leonard Peltier. According to Looking Cloud, "I received a letter informing me that Vernon B. Bellecourt provided all my legal material in my case to Laliberte [Graham's attorney] in Canada, apparently getting it from Gilbert Arlo's appeal attorney. And I read Vernon and Gilbert go way back. And how hard Rensch worked to make sure Candy Hamilton couldn't mention Bruce Ellison's name. Rensch, his former law partner Leech and Ellison go way back." According to Barry Bacharach, an attorney for Peltier, the testimony used to convict Looking Cloud was not based on proof or evidence of Looking Cloud for wrongdoing, but based on testimony which focused primarily on leaders and prominent activists within the American Indian Movement, Peltier included.
Similarly, Looking Cloud's court-appointed attorney, Timothy Rensch, was criticized for not putting a better defense together for Looking Cloud. In his appeal for a new trial, Looking Cloud also included in his appeal a new attorney, but it was also denied.
And despite Looking Cloud's plea bargain which involved exchanging testimony against John Graham, the Graham Defense Committee indicated that it would help Looking Cloud form a legal appeals team. According to a representative from the Graham Defense Committee, in addition to Looking Cloud's conviction being based on a lack of forensic evidence, they also indicated that, "Yet the Graham Defense committee will help form a legal appeals team for Looking Cloud. Why help him with he implicated John? We don't believe he intended to implicate John."
- American Indian Movement
- Wounded Knee incident
- John Graham
- Theda Nelson Clarke
- Darlene Nichols
- Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash
- "Interview of Fritz Arlo Looking Cloud". JFAMR. 27 March 2003. Archived from the original on 16 May 2016. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
- "Former AIM activist reveals allegations in Anna Mae Aquash's murder". Dick Shovel. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
- "Interview with Richard Two Elk about Arlo Looking Cloud and AIM". Indian Country News. 16 June 2000. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
- "Russ Means". 16 December 2003. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
- "Russ Means holds press conference on Annie Mae's murder 11-3-99". Indian Country News. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
- "Second Man Is Wanted in 1970s Slaying of an Indian Activist". Los Angeles Times. 4 April 2004. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
- "Why Was Anna Mae Aquash Really Murdered?". Legend of Pine Ridge. 28 July 2008. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
- "What is the Truth About the Murder of Anna Mae?". The Huffington Post. 27 August 2007. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
- "What is the Truth About the Murder of Anna Mae?". First Nation's Drums. 26 December 2000. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
- "NATIVE_NEWS: ANNA MAE: A Badlands trail of secrets and murder". Mail Archives. 7 August 1999. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
- Sparrow, CJ (22 June 2013). "Who killed Anna Mae Aquash and who cares anyway?". Occupirate. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
- Mendez, Deborah (3 April 2003). "Man Held in Decades-old Slaying of American Indian Activist". Dick Shovel. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
- "Quick Facts· Case of Leonard Peltier". Free Leonard. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
- "RESMURS Case (Reservation Murders)". FBI. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
- Merchant, Norman (8 December 2010). "Prosecution rests in 1975 AIM slaying trial". Native Times. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
- "Leonard Peltier". Ani-Kutani. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
- Banks, Dennis (3 December 2010). "Testimony of Witness testifies FBI agent threatened Aquash's life". JFAMR. Archived from the original on 18 May 2008. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
- DeMain, Paul (23 February 2004). "Jury convicts man in 1975 murder of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash of Being Party to 1st Degree Murder". JFAMR. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
- Cashman, Ray (21 September 2011). The Individual and Tradition: Folkloristic Perspectives. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. p. 229. ISBN 978-0253223739. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
- Kolpack, Dave (12 April 2010). "Trial set in 1975 killing of AIM activist in S.D." Journal Star. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
- "419 F. 3d 781 - United States of America v. Fritz Arlo Looking Cloud". OpenJurist. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
- "United States Court of Appeals,Eighth Circuit. UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Fritz Arlo LOOKING CLOUD, Defendant-Appellant. No. 04-2173. Decided: August 19, 2005". Case Law. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
- "Justice Delayed for Murdered Mi'kmaq Woman Annie Mae Pictou Aquash 32-year-old Murder Trial Delayed". JFAMR. Archived from the original on 8 June 2016. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
- "Leonard Peltier's Reaction to Kamook & Arlo Looking Cloud Trial". Freedom Archives. 10 February 2004. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
- "Testimony of Richard Two Elk in the Trial of Arlo Looking Cloud". JFAMR. Archived from the original on 8 June 2016. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
- "Former AIM activist reveals allegations in Anna Mae Aquash's murder". Dick Shovel. Retrieved 16 August 2014.
- "21st-century Developments". Sites by Dawn. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
- Walker, Carson. "Jury convicts Looking Cloud in 1975 murder". Dick Shovel. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
- Lammers, Dirk (26 September 2011). "Denver Man's Sentence Reduced In 1975 AIM Slaying". Huffington Post. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
- "Looking Cloud has sentence reduced in Aquash murder case". Indian Country News. October 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
- "Denver man's sentence reduced in 1975 AIM slaying". The Denver Post. 26 September 2011. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
- "Arlo Looking Cloud Given Heroin Before So-Called Video Confession". Rapid City Journal. 6 February 2004. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
- "Arlo Looking Cloud Given Heroin Before So-Called Video Confession". BSNorrell. 6 July 2007. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
- Robideau, Robert (July 2007). "JOHN TRUDELL, A PROFILE OF COWARDICE AN FBI INFORMANT COVERS HIS TRACKS IN THE MURDER OF A". BSNorrell. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
- "The Trial and Conviction of Arlo Looking Cloud in the Murder of Anna Mae Aquash". BSNorrell. 3 August 2004. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
- Melmer, David (12 February 2004). "Looking Cloud trial raises questions". Indianz. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
- "Commentary: Racist Trial for Aquash murder". Indianz. 10 March 2004. Retrieved 16 August 2016.