Watch the video of the April 22nd Lynne Stewart Memorial below! Many thanks to Jess Sundin for all the hard work filming! The video is around 3 hours and 40 minutes long. Click on the video to view a larger version.
Community sends abolitionist attorney Lynne Stewart home
A multi-ethnic audience of supporters attended two days of memorial services a couple of weeks ago to commemorate the life and legacy of “The People’s Lawyer,” Lynne Stewart. After a lengthy, courageous battle against cancer, she eventually succumbed to its debilitating effects at her Brooklyn home March 7, at age 77.
First, Friday, March 10, at Scotto’s Funeral Home in downtown Brooklyn (106 First Place), a host of her admirers, comrades from the legal arena, longtime friends, past clients and a few relatives reflected on Stewart’s tireless work with the poor, under-represented community she loved so dearly.
“Don’t mourn me, organize!” her husband Ralph Poynter recalled Lynne suggesting to him, as well as advocating to her supporters, upon her impending passing, as her health deteriorated during her last days. “She stood with the people and fought against the system.”
He said her cause of death was complications from cancer and a series of strokes she recently suffered.
During the services, “Sister Lynne” as she was affectionately called, was compared with the Argentinean rebel, Che Guevara, who assisted Fidel Castro during the Cuban Revolution, because both “were motivated by the love of the people,” and also for taking on the task of representing several clients that the mainstream media often considered to be “radicals and revolutionaries.” It was noted how Stewart often times provided her legal services based primarily on principles, and many times, for little or no pay.
Longtime friend Betty Davis reflected on Stewart’s last few weeks on this physical plateau. “It was hard seeing her like that, but she’s not suffering anymore,” Davis said. “She wants us to continue fighting for what’s right.”
At times, some have referred to Stewart as a modern-day female John Brown, after the 19th century Caucasian slave abolitionist, for daring to stand up against a racist system many say is slanted against people of color.
Shams de Barron recalled how significant Stewart was in helping his childhood friend earn a very unlikely acquittal in one of the city’s most notorious and high-profiled, criminal cases.
“[Attorney William] Kunstler gets the credit, but Lynne was very instrumental in Larry Davis beating the attempted-murder charges of six NYPD cops,” he explained, referring to the infamous Nov. 19, 1986, Bronx conflict that had the city on edge for several weeks. “She’s the one who went to the house where the shootout happened, noticed the door was still there with bullet holes, and that is how it was proved that the cops shot first. Larry is the only person in NYC’s history to shoot police and get off on grounds of self-defense.”
The following morning at St. Marks in the Bowery, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, her funeral was conducted as mourners paid their respects to one of society’s true unsung sheroes. Those in attendance chanted Stewart’s name as her casket was hoisted up in the air and carried from the church to a waiting hearse, at the funeral’s conclusion.
Stewart’s body was interred at Brooklyn’s Greenwood Cemetery later that afternoon.
Photo by Marty Goodman, outside of Lynne’s service March 11, 2017.
WBAI REMEMBERS LYNNE STEWART
AUDIO ARCHIVE is now available
Lynne Stewart: People’s Lawyer – Presente!
Following the news headlines, we reported on the memorial service for Lynne Stewart – attended by hundreds last Saturday at St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery. We will also do a retrospective on the remarkable life of this widely admired People’s Lawyer and fighter for justice.
MORE ON LYNNE’S LIFE: “WHERE WE LIVE” on WBAI
Tune in to 99.5 FM or http://wbai.org/playernew.html ,
The followings are condolence letters from Hoshino Defense Committee and its co-chair and wife of Fumiaki Hoshino, Japanese political prisoner.
International Labor Solidarity Committee of Doro-Chiba
Dear Brother Ralph Poynter, all the Family and Comrades of Lynne Stewart,
Deeply saddened to hear the passing of Lynne Stewart, we, the Hoshino Defense Committee members, send a heartfelt condolence to you. She was one of the greatest working class lawyers, who defended our rights, struggling against repressive laws including the USA Patriot Act.
When her cancer had seriously deteriorated behind bars, we organized a part of the global fight for her immediate release.
Her amazing comeback to various events and the speeches after accomplishing the release on December 31, 2013, delighted us greatly.
She gave her message to our rally Freedom for Fumiaki Hoshino on June 29 that year, which encouraged and inspired our movement.
We will carry on her work, strengthening international solidarity to free all political prisoners in the world including those in the US, Korea, Turkey and Japan.
Hoshino Defense Committee
Dear Brother Ralph Poynter and all Lynne Stewart’s family,
I am deeply grieved at the passing away of Sister Lynne Stewart. Her unflinching fight helped all of workers around the world defend their own right to live. Therefore, we also participated in the struggle for her freedom when her imprisonment under the outrageous USA PATRIOT led to serious aggravation of the cancer.
Tears welled up in my eyes while seeing the video of her in wheelchair at the NY airport finally out of prison.
Esteeming Fumiaki’s struggle very highly, Lynne sent a heartfelt video message to the Free Hoshino National Rally held in Tokyo; it was the great encouragement for all of us.
We will strengthen our fight to free Fumiaki Hoshino and all political prisoners of the world together with Lynne who continues to inspire us.
Co-Chair of the Hoshino Defense Committee
LYNNE STEWART: PEOPLE’S LAWYER, FREEDOM FIGHTER PRESENTÈ!
[col. writ. 3/8/17]
Lynne Stewart, after 78 winters in America, has died, after battling for years against breast cancer.
But that was just some of her battles, and like most of us, she won some, and lost some. But she never stopped fighting!
For decades, she and her husband, Ralph, fought for New York’ site political activists and revolutionaries, like Black Panthers and Young Lords–a Puerto Rican socialist collective. But mostly, they fought for the freedom of the poor and dispossessed of New York’s Black and Brown ghettoes.
She–they–fought often and fought well in the city’s courts.
Her husband, Ralph, was a stalwart of the Black Panther Party, and her most committed defender.
When Lynne was targeted by the US Justice department, and she was tried and convicted for putting out a press release for her client, the blind Egyptian sheikh, Omar Abdul Rahman, Ralph stood in the hot Washington, DC sun, with a sign in front of the White House, demanding his wife’s release.
Her defense of her client was in the best tradition of criminal defense lawyers, and she received significant support from a broad swath of the Bar–from lawyers-yes; judges, no.
Initially sentenced to 28 months, the 2d Circuit sent it back for resentencing-and she got 10 years!
Her support only grew.
The late activist lawyer, Bill Kunstler once opined that defense lawyers should be officers of their clients, instead of officers of the court.
Lynne Stewart was an officer of her clients; a People’s Lawyer, beloved and respected.
May she ever be so.
March 10, 2017
Lynne Stewart AP/Mark Lennihan
On March 7, Lynne Stewart died peacefully at her home in her beloved Brooklyn with her family at her side. As many know, Lynne was ordered released from federal prison on Dec. 31, 2013 after a legal and political campaign to win her compassionate release due to her ongoing battle with breast cancer. Doctors from both behind the wall and in the street predicted she would succumb to the disease in six to 18 months. Through strength and determination, she lived for more than 36 months and was able to spend time with family and continue the work for justice that characterized her entire life.
I first came to know of Lynne in the 1980s when she defended one of several black and white activists charged with violating RICO laws. Her skill won an acquittal for her client, Bilal Sunni Ali. In 1985, we both were part of a defense team for a group of white activists who became known as the “Ohio 7” on trial in Brooklyn federal court. Working with Lynne and the other members of the team, including Bill Kunstler and Liz Fink, both also gone, was an education for me that no law school or CLE could come close to duplicating.
What many do not know is that Lynne was a “full service” lawyer. If you were her client, she not only fought brilliantly in court, she felt it was her responsibility to take care of her clients’ needs: clothes, making sure the clients had commissary money, facilitating visits with family. On more than one occasion, she hired former clients or members of their family to work in her office when they had no other income. At other times, she took clients and/or the children of clients into her home when they had no place to go. Lynne had a big heart. Since her release and especially in the last few months of her life, Lynne and her husband and partner Ralph Poynter increasingly urged those of us in the activist-lawyer community to dedicate ourselves to fighting racism and injustice. Our finest tribute to Lynne will be to make that a reality.
Robert J. Boyle
View the original letter here (PDF): http://lynnestewart.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/LYNNE-STEWART-tribute-Jihad-Abdulmumit.pdf
Dear Comrade Sister Lynne,
I heard the news about your passing; but now I’m not quite sure. After a wave of sadness, I called Ralph. Although his voice was somber, his words were strong and determined. “We have to double our efforts to get all of our sisters and brothers out of prison!” I listened compassionately. He was giving me orders! Marching orders! Lynne’s orders! I sat for a moment processing our conversation. Daggone you Lynne Stewart – frontline warrior, wife warrior, mother warrior, attorney warrior, friend warrior, warrior warrior; in the courtroom sitting when you were expected to stand and standing when they wanted you to sit; advocating and objecting to the judge’s injustices. From prison you wrote me, Jihad, you need to organize the Muslims to get Imam Jamil, Maumin, Jalil, Aafia Siddiqui, and all the other Muslim Political Prisoners out. Form a Muslim Caucus! Get them involved! We gotta do something more than what we are doing! After a Ralph-led full frontal assault, they let you out of prison with the high expectation of 18 months to live. You cheated death then and you’re cheating it now. You’re not dead; you’re very much alive. You are living through each and every one of us who continues to struggle against any and all forms of injustice, state violence, racism, oppression, exploitation, and inhumanity. We hear your laughter and pointed remarks; your courageous analysis, your courageous actions, your courageous presence speaking truth to a tyrant, any tyrant. You were not afraid to call an ace an ace, a chump a chump, a friend a friend and an enemy an enemy. I pray I have that spark when I reach 77. (I’m still not sure whether you and Ralph were serious when we were at the ABC Conference in Colorado a few years ago and you said you wanted to get up early in the morning and work out and exercise with me). Thank you for representing us; for taking our cases; for demanding the freedom of all Political Prisoners. Thank you for being there! You and that brotherman of yours. You are such a profound inspiration. Keep on giving them orders and we’ll talk again soon!
Link to audio of Jaan reading “Farewell thoughts to my friend Lynne Stewart”, from Prison Radio: http://www.prisonradio.org/media/audio/jaan-laaman/farewell-thoughts-my-friend-lynne-stewart-235-jaan-laaman
“Farewell thoughts to my friend Lynne Stewart” from Jaan Laaman, political prisoner
With a sunny sky outside, and a “Day Without Woman Strikes” and other very positive and powerful events taking place all across the United States and around the world, I am sitting quietly and sadly reflecting on the life of my friend Lynne, who died last night.
There is so much that can, and probably will be said about this dynamic and wonderful woman. For decade Lynne Stewart was a, if not the, preeminent human rights, civil rights, peoples’ lawyer, boldly fighting for justice, equality, and freedom in many of the most important and widely reported cases in the United States.
Lynne truly was fearless and could not be intimidated by prosecutors, judges or FBI and other gun-toting goons. She believed in, and fought for Constitutional rights and equal justice. She always fought for her clients.
Lynne was not only brave and determined, but she was a brilliant attorney. She also was very hard working, doing the necessary research and innovative paperwork that often forced the courts to accept her arguments.
Lynne touched so many people and lives in large and dynamic ways, in personal, caring and nurturing ways. As a lawyer, Lynne was a very significant part of the legal team for all of us Ohio-7 people in our many trials. Beyond just her work and skill as an attorney, Lynne was also there for our children and families. As a small boy, my son Ricky always stayed at Lynne’s home when he came to visit me and his mother while we were being held in MCC New York. Lynne was our family friend, as well as a sister and a comrade in the struggle.
So many people will miss you, Lynne, your guidance and wisdom, your concern and care. the love you had for the people and the freedom struggle is only matched by the love so many people, freedom fighters included, have and will continue, to have for you.
Rest easy my sister. We will shed our tears for you then firm up our hearts and spirits and continue in the revolutionary freedom and justice struggle that you contributed so much and uniquely to.
“Did you say I’ve got a lot to learn
Can strings push?
We wake with watch hands
nickel-slick enemies know it’s
“Finding Paths, Forging Links In
Flipping tassel, flinging mortarboard skyward—
Entering from Tahrir Square,
Signaling us to become
Signaling us to become
Lynne Stewart Scholars come matriculate:
Raymond Nat Turner © 2017 All Rights Reserved
RIP Lynne Stewart, People’s Lawyer & Fmr. Political Prisoner; Watch Her Interviews & Release in 2014 (Democracy Now!)March 10th, 2017
View all the interviews as well as Lynne’s release in 2014: https://www.democracynow.org/2017/3/8/rip_lynne_stewart_peoples_lawyer_fmr