Photo by Marty Goodman
It was a bitter cold night outside on East 54 Street and Lexington Avenue but the temperature inside St. Peters Church began to rise with the first arrivals at around 5 for an evening of historic remembrance and love. We were there to celebrate and re-commit ourselves to the heroic men and women who sacrificed and continue to be at the mercy of the most barbaric prison systems in this world. “Bring Them All Home” was the rallying cry, repeated many times during the course of the evening and re-inforced by prison veteran Laura Whitehorn when she reminded us that these heroes do not “languish”,they are a vital part of the force that will ultimately free them.
After the crowd gathered we were serenaded.exhorted,made to laugh out loud and weep by the various persons who had come to the Valentine. And that was the right name because this was all about love. Not the sickeningly sentimental Hollywood or tv editions but the kind that is strong in recognizing that heroes and sheroes. The kind that understands that freedom is sometimes sacrifice but must never descend to cynicism. That righteous anger is truth, an Honest response to an intolerable situation. And that “By Any Means Necessary” is not just a slogan but the way forward to reach our goals.
We were favored by the physical presence of ex-Political Prisoners Kaze. Toure, Joel Meyers, Sekou Odinga, Cisco Torres, Laura Whitehorn, Kathy Boudin, myself.
We were exhorted and challenged by speakers Pam Africa, Larry Hamm, Ralph Poynter and Glenn Ford to carry the fight forward. no matter how discouraging or repressive conditions may be. We were serenaded by the Grannies (lynne included) and Lucy Murphy, Janine Otis, Seraphina Brown. The spoken word was given to us by actress extraordinaire Vinie Burrows and First Class Rhymer Comic Professor Louis. Vinie inspired with the words spoken at the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti. The good professor reminded us that that working class always get kicked in the A– and what to do about it.
This fabulous evening was punctuated by remarks of our mcs Mimi Rosenberg and Nelle Bailey. We had messages read from comrades Jeff Mackler, and political prisoners Jalil Montaquim and David Gilbert. We had skypes with pp Larry Giddings , Ralph Shoenman, and from Minnesota Jess Sundin representing one of twenty three grand jury resisters. I personally want to reach out and embrace all the comrades and supporters who worked and contributed to make this event the joyous scene it was. More than I can mention and I don’t want to slight anyone but we had wonderful food before the main event and a red (emphasis on red) velvet cake to make the final celebration at 10 oclock at the close of festivities.
We left in the teeth of a winter wind and below freezing temperatures but our hearts and minds were warm and dedicated once again…At least this warrior woman who was rescued by the People from the vile system and who is still fighting her death warrant was re-invigorated.
More photos from Marty Goodman:
A Valentine from Lynne Stewart to all Political Prisoners — In and Out, On February 20 we will have an event at St Peters Church (the Jazz church) from 5:30 to 10 pm celebrating and sending Mad Love to all who still remain behind the walls and to those who have been forced to be guests of the State and who are now released. This is meant to be as Inclusive as the Lynne Stewart Organization has always been.
St Peters is located at 54 Street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. We will have entertainment–musical, comedy There will be speeches (short) with Glenn Ford as a featured keynoter. We are hoping to duplicate the wonderful outpouring of a year ago to welcome Lynne home.
Admission is $10 No one will be turned away, and there will be refreshments.
We are dedicated to bring home all political prisoners and prisoners of war and conscience from all progressive struggles!
Come One Come All February 20 at St Peters Church!
Ralph Poynter .
THE GRAND JURY
One of my most prophetic statements is that the “law” is what “they” want it to be at any given time. Witness the Dred Scott decision, the Japanese internment cases of World War II, and the Scottsboro and other legal lynching cases.
In 2014, stemming from the series (ongoing since 1619) of unprosecuted crimes against the African American population, we confront the lawlessness, now inherent, of an ancient legal institution, the Grand Jury. My history here may be fuzzy (due to my jail time of four-plus years and subsequently battling the big C)—but hey, there’s always Wikipedia! Nonetheless, my own experiences as a practicing criminal defense lawyer for over 30 years will help in this short essay.
In New York State, people accused of serious crimes (felonies) can be brought before the court by a number of avenues. Most common is the presentation of the case, by the District Attorney, in a rudimentary way, to a Grand Jury, who will then vote on an indictment. (The famous or infamous statement that a Grand Jury will indict a ham sandwich being entirely true.)
As I recall, the Grand Jury was an outgrowth of the Magna Carta, a medieval document that was fought for by the nobles (male and white and born to privilege) in which they won the right to not be thrown in and left forever in a dank and dark prison by the king. They now had the right (habeas corpus) to demand to be heard and judged by their “peers” (equals). Of course, we are not talking “fair” here, just the way it operated.
The functioning of the Grand Jury has not changed a great deal since those days. It is still possible for a defense attorney to present her client and allow him to tell his story (usually in a self-defense case), and there are even those rare instances
However, the abuse by the Grand Jury in cases such as Michael Brown and Eric Garner, where there is only prosecution testimony, and that is in total control of the District Attorney or prosecuting authorities, is obvious when there can be no presentation of an opposition scenario—they have killed the obvious witnesses. And so, the Grand Jury does what it is best at, following the instructions and demands of the District Attorney, Missouri or Staten Island, N.Y. It is the ham sandwich approach, and there is no blame, no accountability. The police and prosecutors are a single entity, and they have an agenda.
A far better solution (short of the revolution we all hope and dream of) is to make those suspected of those heinous crimes stand TRIAL. Let the 12 jurors decide their fate in an open and fully presented evidentiary case. It’s not a perfect solution but far, far better that the endless parade of murderers going free because their victims don’t matter.
— January 3, 2015
JOIN US! At 9pm in front of the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in New York City: 150 Park Row, New York, NY 10007
Celebrate Lynne’s freedom and come in solidarity with those still locked down!
Lynne reads the new book of art from political prisoner Tom Manning, “For Love and Liberty.” She urges everyone to pick up a copy today and support Tom!
Click this link to order your copy today: http://www.freedomarchives.org/Tom%20Manning.html