“Today, the federal government added another chapter to its long history of injustices against Native American people. Over the steadfast objection of the Navajo Nation, and despite urgent pleas for clemency from Navajo leaders and many other Native American tribes, organizations, and citizens, the Trump Administration executed Lezmond Mitchell, a Navajo man, for a crime against other Navajo people committed on Navajo land.
“Mr. Mitchell’s execution represents a gross insult to the sovereignty of the Navajo Nation, whose leaders had personally called on the President to commute his sentence to life without possibility of release. The very fact that he faced execution despite the tribe’s opposition to a death sentence for him reflected the government’s disdain for tribal sovereignty.
“Mr. Mitchell’s execution came after the Supreme Court refused to allow him to interview his jurors – 11 white people and a single Navajo – about whether racial bias influenced their decision. Yet we have little doubt that it did, because in their zealous pursuit of a death sentence for Mr. Mitchell, the federal prosecutors made arguments laced with anti-Indian stereotypes.
“We have been honored to meet and work with members of the Navajo Nation and many other Native American people who sought to halt Lezmond Mitchell’s execution. We hope that the future will bring greater respect for the sovereignty of Indian nations and for the traditions of their people.”
-Jonathan Aminoff and Celeste Bacchi, Deputy Federal Public Defenders, attorneys for Lezmond Mitchell
-August 26, 2020