This morning I spoke with Lynne Stewart’s husband, Ralph Poynter, at their home in Brooklyn, NY. We managed to do the call via video camera where Ralph and the family were surrounding Lynne, who had just had a second series of mini-strokes that rendered her unable to speak but able to hear what were perhaps my last words of love and solidarity. Lynne opened her eyes in acknowledgment, bravely trying to muster a smile.
Lynne’s cancer has now spread throughout her body, including her brain. Ralph explained that her days are numbered and she is unlikely to make it to her next scheduled medical appointment on March 16.
Lynne and I go back some 63 years, to 1954-58 when we were students at Jamaica High School in Queens, NY. We relished singing the Jamaica High school song together at many a solidarity meeting. Decades later, we taught school in NYC and were union activists in the late 1960’s when we opposed the 1968 racist school strike led by the AFT’s reactionary leader, Albert Shanker. In those days, young Lynne, now 77, was often seen unconventionally riding on the back of Ralph’s motorcycle, on her way to this or that protest.
Another several decades later, when Lynne faced frame-up charges of conspiracy to aid and abet terrorism stemming from her issuing a press release on behalf of her client, the famous blind Sheik Omar Abdel Rachman, we engaged once again to try to win her freedom. After a long legal battle, where I headed Lynne’s defense committee on the West Coast, Lynne was cruelly sentenced to ten years in a Texas prison, after vindictive federal prosecutors appealed a federal Court judge’s sentence of some 18 months. After serving three years in prison, we mounted a campaign that won the support of 70,000 social activists across the country. Lynne, cancer ridden, was finally granted “compassionate release” following her prison doctors’ diagnosis that she had less then a year to live. Lynne beat the odds and spent almost three years in freedom, continuing her lifelong commitment to defending all those victims of capitalist injustice.
Lynne was among Mumia Abu-Jamal’s most ardent supporters. Lynne’s court cases included some of the seminal Weatherrman cases in the 1970s as well as an amazing victory on behalf of Larry Davis, who defended himself against a multiple cop shooting invasion of his house where a number of the shoot-first police were killed.
Pilloried by the corporate media, who mocked her every success in the rigged criminal “justice” system, Lynne never bent to her accusers’ contempt for an attorney for those on the other side of the class line, as Lynne aptly described it, no matter how unpopular her client.
Lynne’s life was one of dedication to all the people’s causes. I valued her friendship, her humor, her sparkle and her hatred for all that is evil and yet love for all that is beautiful. Only Lynne began or ended her speeches by reading from one of the world’s great poets, whose universal appeal to what is best in all of us, rang true.
No doubt we will remember Lynne well when we in the Bay Area plan to memorialize her lifelong achievements.
Meanwhile, her family is in dire need of financial support as these last days painfully proceed and the months before. Here’s an appeal by Ralph and the family’s longterm friend, Betty Davis.
Please send your generous contribution as per the information at https://www.generosity.com/emergencies-fundraising/financial-appeal-for-lynne-stewart-health-crisis
In solidarity and with the greatest admiration for a comrade and friend whose life set the bar high for all of us who cherish human freedom and dignity.
Rest in power.
Our beloved People’s Champion Lynne Stewart suffered a major stroke, the latest complication from the cancer that has now spread throughout her body and invaded her brain. She is resting comfortably at home, but can only speak sporadically. Her doctor has said she does not have much time left. Ralph and Sister Betty Davis are taking good care of her, as is her doctor-daughter Zenobia Brown.
Ralph welcomes emails ( CLICK HERE TO EMAIL RALPH ). Because of this emergency, Betty is launching an online fundraising campaign to assist with Lynne’s on-going personal needs.
Let’s all be there for this final journey. Such a heroic fighter – Lynne, we love you!
If you’d like to make a donation by check please make checks out to
“Lynne Stewart Organization” and mail to:
Lynne Stewart Organization,1070 Dean Street ,Brooklyn, NY 11216
Lynne will be at Burning Books on THURSDAY APRIL 28 at 7PM
420 Connecticut St, Buffalo, New York 14213
Come out and support this great event! RSVP on Facebook.
Parole Board Drags Its Feet on COMPAS
January 21, 2016
New York State and the entire country are engaged in a serious public conversation on the meaning of justice and how it is applied in our communities, courts and prisons. Issues of particular importance to the legal community enter into that discussion, including sentencing reform, mandatory minimums, wrongful convictions and the ways in which racism shapes the application of justice. As lawyers with many decades of experience representing people caught up in the criminal justice system, we welcome that conversation. Whether in the media, including the New York Law Journal, in courtrooms, or in legislatures, there is a growing recognition that our justice system has too often been unfair and its punishments vengeful and draconian.
From this conversation has emerged a national consensus that we have relied too much on incarceration to solve social problems and enhance public safety. The incarceration of huge numbers of people has not lowered our crime rate. It has, however, separated families, contributed to the impoverishment of entire communities, and returned literally millions of people to the community burdened with statutory and social obstacles to successful lives. Read the rest of this entry »
Oscar Lopez Rivera is one of the Puerto Rican independence fighter who has served longest in US prisons. A massive campaign has been being waged for him throughout the US, Puerto Rico and around the world.
Now Oscar Lopez Rivera has issued a statement about Puerto Rican political prisoner Ana Belen Montes, who is serving one of the harshest sentences of total isolation in US federal prison at Carswell (compare to Leonard Peltier or the Angola 3 for an example of similarly barbaric punishment). (See article “Ana Belen Montes: Buried Alive” if you haven’t already read about her from this list).
“Various friends and companeros have asked how I would feel about having Ana Belen Montes’ name alongside mine in the campaign for my freedom. It woud be a great honor for me. I think that every Puerto Rican who loves justice and freedom should be proud of Ana Belen. What she did was more than heroic. She what every person who believes in peace, justice and liberty and in the right of every nation to govern itself in the best way possible and without intervention or threats from anyone would have done. She did what she did because she knew that the government of the United States was intent on destroying the Cuban government and imposing on the Cuban people a system designed by Washington, one more attempt at regime change. The objectives of the US government were criminal and if she hadn’t acted as she did she would have been supporting those actions. We should all be proud of her, support her and demand her release from prison.”
Friday January 8th, 2016, @ 7 pm-10 pm
1199/Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Join us Friday January 8th, 2016, as we celebrate Oscar Lopez Rivera’s 73rd birthday!
For the past 34 years, Oscar has spent his birthday (January 6th) in prison without his family or friends! Why is he in jail? For being a revolutionary who fought for the independence of Puerto Rico from U.S. colonialism.
Join us we celebrate life, work, and legacy of this extraordinary man!
Poetry by: Rafael Landron, Jesus Papoleto Melendez, and Mariposa
Special Invited Guests:
Lynne Stewart, former Political Prisoner
Daniel McGowan, former Political Prisoner
Nelson Denis, author of “War against all Puerto Ricans”
Estela Vasquez, 1199/SEIU
Dr. Johanna Fernandez, Campaign to Bring Mumia Home
Laura Whitehorn, former Political Prisoner
Francisco “Cisco” Torres, of the San Francisco 8
Artisans: Botanicafe and Jesus Mangual/Taino Cemí
Food, Music, Poetry, Birthday cards for Oscar and Fun! Donation: $5-$10 (No one will be turned away due to lack of funds)
Sponsors: The ProLibertad Freedom Campaign; Las 34 Mujeres NYC por Oscar; Call to Action on Puerto Rico; Frente Socialista NYC; PIP-NYC; NYC Jericho; Malcolm X Commemorative Committee; SODC; NYC Free Peltier; NYC Anarchist Black Cross; Daniel McGowan, Former Political Prisoner; The Campaign to Bring Mumia home; Freedom Socialist Party; Radical Women; International Action Center; Resistance in Brooklyn; Free Mumia Coalition NYC; New Abolitionist Movement; Lynne Stewart Organization; NY Fee Leonard Peltier. List still in formation.
To Chairwoman, Board of Parole, New York State, Tina M. Stanford
We are asking that Herman Bell be granted release on parole at his February
Herman Bell has been in state custody since 1973 and has been denied
Every time Herman has been denied, it has been for the same reason-that
1.17.2016: NYC: 20th Annual Dinner Tribute to Political Prisoners & Their Families!
800Years of Legacy, Commitment & Sacrifice: Honoring our captive Black Freedom Fighters
Sun. January 17, 2016 • 3 – 7pmMLK 1199 Labor Center, 310 W. 43rd St, New York, NY
Buy tickets now! $40 advance/$45 door–All Proceeds go to the Commissary Accounts of PP/POWs Represented at Dinner
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE! MALCOLMITES ANNOUNCE 20TH ANNIV OF ANNUAL FREEDOM FIGHTERS TRIBUTE!
On Sunday, January 17th, the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee will host its 20th anniversary of their endearing annual tribute to Black Political Prisoners and their Families! This moving event will place at the Martin Luther King Jr., 1199 Labor Center, located at 310 West 43rd Street in Manhattan. The event is from3-7pm with dinner served promptly at 4pm.The theme of this milestone event is*”800 Years: Legacy, Commitment, Sacrifice, Honoring Our Captive Black Freedom Fighters!”
*This incredible event will be highlighted by special guest speakers *SekouOdinga* and *Lynne Stewart*, both recently released freedom fighters! Odinga, a veteran of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army,endured 33 years in the NY prison system. Stewart, a brave and much beloved people’s lawyer nearly died in prison from breast cancer, but was released on the consequence of a mass medically compassionate release campaign.
For more information about the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee, pleasecall 718-512-5008 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Last week, there was a spiritual Rally for Leonard Peltier in front of the White House, part of a series of vigils and actions in DC. The International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee included the following call for support among those who could not attend in person:
November 26, 2015 – Day of Mourning
Brothers and Sisters,
It makes my heart happy to know so many of you are keeping this Day of Mourning event going.
I hear there is going to be a National Geographic movie this month called “Saints and Strangers” about the REAL Thanksgiving. I want you to know that I believe… I KNOW this has only come about from your continued protest and determination to expose what really happened. But, damn, huh has it ever taken so long! 🙁 Let’s hope this film DOES tell the truth. I, for one, thank you very much, as this is what it was and is all about—getting the real history told about the genocide that was committed against us as a race of people and against our Nations. If we don’t do this, then it can and will happen again until we have all been exterminated.
I’m so proud of you young People out there too, all over the country, standing up for our Nations and taking over because some of us can no longer get out there to stand by your sides—or to stand there with you and shake your hands.
February 6, 2016, will make it 40 straight years in here. Under the laws I was indicted with, a life term was seven years. I have served over six life sentences! As you know, I was sentenced to only two. To Native Peoples this is also not surprising. In fact, this is something that happens on a regular basis throughout Indian Country. And, as always, this is not acceptable to us. So we protest, and we protest some more.
Over the last four decades, I have been supported by people of all backgrounds, races, and religions. As we approach the one-year mark on President Obama’s remaining time in office, it is crucial for my survival that everyone who has ever supported my release to please contact my official Committee that works on my behalf, and coordinate and organize with them.
In 2008, when asked about my case, then Senator Obama supposedly said, “Show me the support.” If all of you dedicate some of your time in 2016 to support my bid for clemency, I believe this President has the courage to do the right thing and let me go home.
Remember, too, that we have brothers and sisters who are themselves wrongfully incarcerated, and I ask that we all coordinate to put an end to these injustices.
I wish I could lie to you and tell you I’m doing O.K., but that would not be fair to you. Today, I have another call out to the prison clinic. I guess some of the results must have come back from my last blood work. I know I’m not feeling very well. It seems as if there are so many things wrong with me… I don’t know what to do or say to you, or even where to start. Hell, I cannot even sit for any length of time. When I get up my plexis area hurts so bad, I cannot walk but very slowly and while hanging on to someone for support. But after a few steps I’m O.K. So I move right along with the crowd. 🙂 But those first few steps are awfully painful. I asked for a cushion, but was told they don’t have any here—and to make one myself from a blanket. Well, news flash. I did this and every time I did they took it away. Yep, for some reason this is illegal. Then I have to deal with the other medical problems. So, yeah, this is my Sundance. But you know what? You’re all worth it and I would not hesitate to suffer for any of you again and again.
Well, I better end this before you get bored with me. 🙂 So, again, thank you—all of you—for being decent loving human beings.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse…
Send Love Through the Walls!!!!!
. This event is always a lot of fun, the food outstanding, the camaraderie lively, and the handmade cards flat out amazing. This year will be no different. So plan to bring your friends, your creativity, and a healthy appetite. We’ll have updates on the pp/pow campaigns as well as paints, markers, crayons, and envelopes.
Copies of the 2016 Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners calendars will be on sale for $12. And Mumia’s new City Lights monograph, To Protect and Serve Who? Organizing a Movement to Abolish Police Violence, will available for $5.
Franklin Avenue Stop: Walk west on Eastern Parkway (away from Franklin Avenue, toward Classon Avenue). We’re about half a block down on the north side of the street. When you go into the building, take the elevator to your left.
For more information, contact: