Off to Sloan on Tuesday for first consultation on my lymphedema (swollen left arm) Am also taking full array of oils, vitamins, powders and potions as recommended and gifted by my Dr. daughter. Will keep everyone up to date (without becoming tedious…I hope)
Off to International Women’s Day celebration and glad to be here to do so.!
Went down to the local medicaid office to check on my application for coverage after I got it marked urgent last week…
two months after being freed on compassionate release, and countless trips to medicare and medicaid offices, I now have Medicaid coverage !!! Effective as of Feb 1 and extending to July 2014.
I immediately called SKettering and made appointments. Whew, what a relief .
I am still so overwhelmed by the love and joy of the Valentine of February 14 that I find it difficult to write through my tears of happiness. Happens every time I sit down to write this or when I see the photos on the website. It was a great moment for me, my family but also, I hope for the movement. We needed a victory like this to carry us to new realizations of Unity and erase the fractiousness that has characterized us since the days of Co Intel Pro.
I am still working on finding my normal after the 4+years in federal prison. I am hampered by the probation condition that forbids my association with “felons”; making it impossible to communicate with my former sisters and constituency at Carswell. As many of you know, once the Prison was aware that Ralph was landing at Dallas/Ft Worth for our usual monthly visit and farewell, that afternoon they got me out of the Big House in a hurry. Unbelievable speed and efficiency for the Bureau of Prisons. The Judge in NY signed the order at 2:15 pm and I was waiting for Ralph in a parking lot outside the prison gates at 5:30. (They probably thought that either you all, or the media would be storming their citadel if I weren’t released immediately !!) I was so glad to be free of their Arbitrary Authority but it also meant that many close friends Mara, Wanda, Kathy, Jenn, Rollow, Gwen, to name a few–I never got a chance to say goodbye to personally and now I can’t. BUT, I haven’t forgotten my promise to keep on working to bring about some merciful changes in the Prison System and I still think about them, often.
On another sombre note, little did I think that when I arrived in Brooklyn I would need to become locked in ferocious battle with the forces of Medicare and Medicaid. But that Is what Ralph and I have been doing since January 2. Let me preface this by saying that my prognosis, of 12 months of life with this cancer, in 7/13 has not changed. First, Medicare told me that when I went to jail in November, 2009, they had continued to pay my Health Insurance provider until 2011. When they “notified” (?HOW?) me that I needed to enroll again in Medicare I did not respond. (of course not, being in Texas) Therefore, not having opted then to get this entitlement, I could not now get coverage until July 2014. They suggested that I sign up for Medicaid administered by the state of NY. After many trips and many documents Medicaid finally (2/22) declined to cover me, because Ralph and I have income (our social security payments) that exceeds their monthly limit. We are now hoping that we will be able to enter into a program whereby they will accept a different accounting, a pay in, and I will be covered through July. Sloan Kettering Hospital, my choice for treatment, has allowed me to pay with Medicaid. So, we are working on it and I want to say Loud and Clear that poverty is hard work. We still advocate for Single Payer !!! No-one should have to jump through these hoops to get treatment, especially when they are not feeling all that well or energetic.
And or course, and eternally, I have to say, I couldn’t do it without my formidable and loyal and loving partner Ralph Poynter. We have to laugh sometimes as we compare our elderly selves to the passionate duo that met in their twenties on the “60′s battle lines of political challenges. But, hey, we’re still here and intend to remain loyal to all the causes that are necessary to fight in this rapacious capitalist world we live in. We must have victory. There must be a better world for us and for all the generations still out there.
Finally, I have to say that just as I finished writing this I received word of the passing of my brother at Law, friend and Comrade Chokwe Lumumba in Jackson, Misssissippi. I will write at another time, about the six month trial and acquittal victory (1983) for Bilal Sunni Ali in the federal Brinks case, where we served as co-counsel. Chokwe, on summation played a record of Gil Scott Heron. We are all the heirs and heiresses of a rich heritage of resistance. We must fight on.
Chris Hedges interviews Lynne Stewart (Part 1)
12/31/12 3:24 pm
Well, the impossible takes a little longer !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We learned this morning that the US Attorney’s office has made the motion for my compassionate release and that the Order was on Judge Koeltl’s desk. Since on the last go-round he stated in Court that he would treat it “favorably”, we are now just waiting expectantly.
The wonderful thing is that Ralph is here in Ft Worth for a visit and will bring me back to NYC with him. We don’t know when but the rules state that the warden has 2 days to let me go after he receives the order so it could be as early as Friday or a few days more. Whatever it is, I can’t stop crying tears of Joy !! I can’t stop thinking of all the marvelous people worldwide who made this happen ..you know because each of you played an integral role. My daughter Z is already lining up Sloan Kettering and we will have to see if there is a probation qualification attached to the Order and how it will affect me. After that Ralph will start making arrangements to rent Yankee Stadium for the Welcome Home… Smile
So If this reaches you before midnight tonight raise a glass of bubbly to the joy of all of us that the old girl is OUT !!
Bring Lynne Stewart Home this Holiday !
For the second time the warden of Carswell FCI agreed to forward the compassionate release petition to the DOJ. For the second time, Obama Holder are stalling. The time to increase the heat is now.
On DECEMBER 10th, 11th, the 12th, make 3 calls for for Compassion!!!
President Obama-202 456 1111,
Att.Gen.Holder-202 353 1555
B.O.P. Dir. Samuels-202 307-3250/3062
“…Finally and not to burden your time schedules, I need to once again ask for your assistance in forcing the Bureau of Prisons to grant my Compassionate Release. They have been stonewalling now since August and my life expectancy, as per my cancer Doctor, is down to 12 months. They know I am fully qualified and that there are 40,000+ people who have signed on to force them to do the right thing which is to let me go home to my family and receive the advanced care in New York City, my home. Yet they refuse to act. I must say it is entirely within the range of their politics and their cruelty to hold the political prisoners until we have days to live before releasing us — Witness Herman Wallace of Angola and Marilyn Buck. We are fighting not to permit this and are actually calling for a BIG push–email, mail, telephone, to Obama(the gutless wonder) Attorney General Holder (Big Speech No Action) and the BOP on December, 10, 11 and 12. Bring Lynne Home by the Holidays. We are Many ! They are few!!
And lastly , as you discuss political prisoners, remember that I am a virtual newcomer having just finished 4 years inside. Not far from here in Coleman,Fla., at the Federal Prison there, is the heroic defender of his people, Leonard Peltier. He is as far from his nation, the Turtle Mountain Band in North Dakota as it is possible to be.
EVERYBODY HOME !! FREE LEONARD !! FREE SEKOU !! FREE MUMIA !! FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS !!…..”
Lynne Stewart, FMC
Brothers and Sisters:
It seems a long time ago in an other universe that I showed up in September, 1971 at Rutgers Law School, Newark to embark on my legal career. Many of you have heard the story of how, after being a school librarian in Harlem and the Lower East Side and after we had been defeated in our righteous fight for community control of the New York City schools in the sixties–I realized that I had to concentrate on breaking free of the stranglehold of educational bureaucracy and go in a different direction. I could not have done it without the man who is delivering this message for me–my partner, comrade in arms, my heartbeat–Ralph Poynter. Thinking about my realization and what it meant for our future, I went to his motorcycle shop (small and virtually not for profit),mightily pregnant with our third child and said that I needed to get out of the school system–I loved the kids but could no longer be a part of what was being done to them. He asked, What did I want to do? I said, I always wanted to go to Law School. Without missing a beat, without saying how can we afford that now, he said, Well I guess you better go.
And go, I did. We were all but broke but Rutgers gave me what my grandchildren now call a “free ride”. Admissions liked my militant background, I think. And so, in September 1971, I showed up on Newark Avenue for orientation –some boring speechifying I thought . Was I ever wrong ??!! First we were informed that Rutgers had achieved an admission of over 50% women, and as I looked around I saw sisters of all colors and ages and economic strata. After prolonged applause, a small dynamo of a man with a long tie was introduced. His voice was not memorable but Oh! his words as he spoke to us that afternoon so long ago !! It was, of course, Arthur Kinoy, Civil, Human Rights warrior and Innovator and Creative Force of the Law. I came home that day with my heart and mind full of dreams–all Inspired by Arthur.
And in all the years that have followed, that flame that was lit that day has continued to flourish for me. Shortly after my arrest in 2002, at a rally at Cardozo Law School, Arthur spoke and reminded us all that cases like mine are won not only in the Courts but on the Streets. Still true today and especially now, for me. He also did me the greatest honor when he dubbed me a “People’s Lawyer”— my hero, Arthur Kinoy denoting Me with his highest praise.
Never in my legal career was I ever a great student or scholar. As a matter of fact at Rutgers I may be more remembered for the motorcycle I rode to school than for brilliant analysis in class. (As an aside I was so delighted to see that Al Slocum was also an awardee tonight. He was my professor in Criminal Law (Procedure?) also that first semester. He was my kind of down to earth, critical thinking, kick their asses Black Man that I have always loved and respected — and he could teach, too !)
To pick up the thread again, I came to Rutgers. I made mediocre grades except with the classes I loved, KInoy, Slocum, Smith. I graduated, passed the bar (flunked in NY and had to take it again !) and the rest is history. My career as a trial lawyer fulfilled my great desire for joinder against the State on behalf of the downtrodden, oppressed—and I loved it. I still can’t pass those courthouses in which I worked for 30 years, with a dry eye.
Now I am ready to dedicate myself to the next phase of my life. First to come home myself and then I see myself fighting to bring home all of the political prisoners, who have sacrificed their lives for causes and community. I see myself taking up the cause of women in prison and the inequities they and their children face. Mostly, I hope I will be able to speak to new would-be lawyers who have just embarked on the yellow brick road toward justice and rouse their hearts and souls as Arthur Kinoy once did mine.
I have fears for Tom Turkey, this year.
Tom is the live Thanksgiving* Turkey donated to the White House for the dinner. And every year since he has taken office, Obama has pardoned him. I am afraid for the poor bird this year since this same President does not seem to have it in his heart or intellect to understand the true nature of Mercy to be shown to birds, not to mention human beings.
While the government opens and closes and the debt ceiling rises and falls, thousands in the federal prisons are awaiting the fateful word on whether their requests for release, based on terminal illness, age, loss of ability to function, extended sentence and simple justice to undo evils of the past, will be granted or not. This suffering humanity is only to be compared to the WWII prison camps and the death and destruction of the endless wars. We have only empty words of Attorney General Holder about Intentions — no concrete actions. We have a report from the Inspector General’s office citing compassionate release as “cruelty” because so many die before any decision is ever reached. As far as pardons and clemency are concerned–the wait is two to three years and Obama has exercised his ” benign perogative” only 39 times. The despised Reagan and Bush both did ten and three times as many. So all of you (us) who voted Obama as being the lesser of the two evils (which is still evil, remember !) need to hold his forgetful feet to the fire.
But then again, maybe my concern for Tom Turkey is premature. Maybe this austere President will once again do the right thing for the poor bird. After all, he has impressionable children who might be distressed at the slaughter of the Turkey. I just want him to remember all the impressionable children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of the prisoners who are waiting. I have a cousin who has a Turkey farm in Duanesburg, NY. I’m sure Tom would be happy to be there and live out his life with the other turkeys. As for me, I have a family and a shortened life waiting for me in Brooklyn,NY. I, like Tom, would be happy to be there if only the President and his bureaucrats can find the heart.
* Thanksgiving is not my name for this holiday. Rather as some prominent Native American activists suggest it should be Thanks-taking. And those who fast on this day at Plymouth Rock have my respect, solidarity and esteem.
Brothers and Sisters of the National Lawyers Guild
I wanted to send you this most important Health Bulletin–Not Personal (pause) but on the steady evisceration of the Right to Counsel, the bulwark of all we do. Within the last weeks, a suspect was forcibly detained for crimes against the US. He was taken from Libya to an offshore (ship?) where he was being interrogated, read tortured. When the Public Defenders of the Southern District of New York, where his case is ostensibly pending, attempted to have counsel appointed for him, they were turned down in no uncertain terms by Judges using the now all too common weasel words. But this is not a new phenomenon–it is apparent over and over again and the question remains–what are WE, who claim to be the last protection against an overreaching state going to do about it?
How important is this ? I need to tell a couple of anecdotes about lawyering–my dear deceased friend Bill Kunstler in the tumultuous years in which the FBI-JTTF was rounding up the remnants of the Underground, Sekou Odinga, a member of the Black Panthers and then the Black Liberation Army, related to me that he had been detained in a Queens NYC precinct for many hours, was being water boarded by the police in one of the toilets, and was really feeling it badly when all at once he heard the booming voice of the Great Kunstler echoing through the hallways demanding to see his client and he knew that he had been saved. The other story was one that I told at an earlier convention and a young lawyer from San Diego wrote to tell me that it had turned her life around. After my arrest, Ralph and I were stuck in Manhattan traffic, when a bicycle messenger pulled up and tapped on my window. When I opened it he said in an excited and joyous voice “You THE Lawyer !! You the LAWYER !!! Indeed I was and Indeed it was and is my greatest ambition and accomplishment to be THE lawyer.
Back in the day and I mean way back, when this adversary system had its origins, the accused had the right to select a champion to fight for their rights and I mean fight–jousting, swordplay, mace and chain — ok perhaps a little hyperbole, BUT the message is clear–we were hired for our brawn as well as brains, our courage as well as legal acumen. We need to get courage and creativity in combat, back into the equation. It’s not about schmoozing the prosecution or the Judge. How many courtrooms have I walked into where there was not one friendly face–there was just me and the client ? Even the stenographers were hostile ! And that’s ok because I was there for only one reason, the one I took an oath to zealously pursue, the defense of my client. Was it fearsome personally? Of course. But to do otherwise was more so.
I urge everyone to return to the days of robust lawyering. Be Bill Kunstler in the precinct. Be “THE LAWYER” . Be the champion who defends fearlessly. When I say that the right to counsel is being eviscerated I mean that the forces of the empire are very busy removing the nerves, the hearts and guts of the Fifth Amendment and leaving it a shell of what it was and can be. We are the opposition that need to gather our shields and swords in its defense and be selfless and brave. Let us press forward–Instead of the derision we often face, let us all strive to be “the Lawyer” respected and honored.
Click here to read a letter in support of compassionate release for Lynne from a fellow prisoner at FMC Carswell.
“For the past two years I have interacted with Ms. Stewart and she has been a God-send to not only me, but many numerous inmates with her positive attitude and wonderful living skills that she has imparted to others.”