Tribute from Puerto Rican former political prisoner Dylcia Pagan
Lynne Stewart – My Comrade, Sister Warrior Woman
During the 20 years of my Revolutionary Sabbatical, there wasn’t a birthday of mine that Lynne forgot. To me it was always my personal New Year’s greeting from her.
I have shared many memories in my life with her. She was always there with unconditional love, support from her revolutionary heart and soul. She is truly a woman warrior because what took precedence in her life was struggle for human rights, Political Prisoners in all of the movements of true struggle. There was Lynne.
Her smile and eyes were always filled with determination striving for a victorious result. I am very fortunate to have had her in my life. The distance of time and place didn’t matter – I knew she was there.
Lynne, Hermana de Lucha!
Tribute to Lynne by Jeff Mackler, former West Coast Director of the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee and Director of the Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal (San Fran.)
A few minutes ago my dear friend and comrade, Ralph Poynter, called to say that his lifelong companion, Lynne Stewart, passed away. She was 77, of Irish origin, and a born fighter who unswervingly devoted herself to humanity’s cause.
Just a few weeks earlier Lynne pledged to meet me in NY in a couple of months, over dinner to be sure, when we would dance once again to demonstrate that her life still had some time to go… and for joy.
A few years earlier, when prospects looked bleak to win her freedom based on “compassionate release” Lynne insisted that she would prevail and that she would celebrate with us in San Francisco to the tunes of a brass band. Sure enough, a brass band did appear at Lynne’s welcome home San Francisco rally, and she and Ralph, surrounded by her loving friends, danced in the streets at 15th and Valencia. It was a victory well worth the effort, allowing Lynne a couple of more years to fight on against all that is evil in this barbarous capitalist world, and to smile at every inch we collectively gained as we fought back.
Lynne was always surrounded by family and loved ones, with children from her first marriage, and Ralph’s too, as well kids together, and grandkids – all filled with admiration for Grandma Lynne – all the recipient of Lynne’s warmth, dedication, mindfulness and love.
Lynne was fond of saying, including to the New York Times reporter who interviewed her at her home a few weeks before her death, that she had no intention of leaving this earth quietly. Quoting Dillon Thomas she told The Times, whose reporter, followed the next day with a contemptuous hate piece recounting his corporate master’s ire for everything wonderful in Lynne life and struggles, that she had no intention of “going gently into that good night.”
That was Lynne’s credo, her detractors notwithstanding. Always the poet’s words in mind, Lynne insisted,
“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Funds are urgently needed to cover final family expenses. Give generously comrades and friends. We are honoring Lynne’s gift to us all and to all who rage against injustice everywhere.
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
Event Information: https://www.facebook.com/events/1797950590424192/
SUNDAY AT 5PM
At William Way LGBT Community Center (1315 Spruce Street), Philadelphia, PA
Greetings, Friends and family:
Please read the following letter and send what you can to help our friend and comrade Sundiata’s lawyers file another appeal for his freedom. Sundiata will be 80 on his birthday in Jan. 2017. Please help as it is time for him to come home.
With Respect, Paulette Jericho DC.
OR: Funds can be contributed using PayPal. Sundiata’s daughter Sunni manages the SAFC PayPal account and we can keep you posted on our progress if you like.
To make a contribution, please send funds to this email address via PayPal: SAFC766@gmail.com.
Below is a letter from Florence Morgan, Esq. seeking funds for Sundiata Acoli’s legal defense it. Please read it, contribute, if you can, and forward others who might be willing and able to do so.
July 10, 2016
Dear Friends and supporters of Sundiata Acoli:
A New Jersey Appellate Court in September 2014 ordered the release of Sundiata, resting its decision on the eligibility requirements under the New Jersey Parole Act of 1979. The decision left us overjoyed and at the same time, cautious as the State announced it would appeal the decision and request a “Stay” of the release until the appeal was heard. The “Stay” was granted which resulted in Sundiata remaining incarcerated while awaiting a decision from a New Jersey Supreme Court.
Arguments were heard on October 13, 2015 and on February 23, 2016, the Supreme court of NJ reversed the Appellate Court’s order. The court did not rule on the merits of the Appellate case ordering release, but focused rather, on procedure. The Supreme Court held that the Appellate Court exceeded its authority in ordering release because a procedural process had not been followed- in New Jersey the full parole board has to make a decision in cases involving murder convictions. Sundiata appeared before the full board in June, 2016 and again, denied parole. An appeal will again be taken to the same Appellate Division that ordered his release.
Additionally, a certiorari petition has been filed in the United States Supreme Court and that filing involved legal fees, printing and filing costs. Please know and understand that all of your support is so much appreciated and needed as we continue to work towards Sundiata’s release. He will be 80 years old on January 14, 2017!!!
It is most respectfully requested that everyone continues to exercise discretion and discipline in not making what could be interpreted as inflammatory remarks on social media or elsewhere. I know all of us who love and support Sundiata will want no reason for a denial of parole when this case again comes before the New Jersey Appellate Court- the court that issued a strong order that Sundiata must be released in accordance with the NJ parole Act of 1979. Sundiata has continued his positive actions since that decision.
Further, do understand that as much as we would like to keep supporters and friends abreast of what is going on with the case, it is not in Sundiata’s best interest to expose each and every detail and legal strategies. We will all celebrate his freedom when he is released, but until then we will exercise restraint.
Please make checks/money orders payable to: Sundiata Acoli Freedom Campaign (or SAFC)
120-46 Queens Blvd.
Kew Gardens, New York 11415
All the Best,
Lynne at recent demo at Brooklyn DA’s office for Nicholas Payton with father of child murdered by cop.
Viva Muhammad Ali!
A Taking Aim Salute from Mya Shone and Ralph Schoenman: In celebration of Muhammad Ali
“I ain’t draft dodging. I ain’t burning no flag. I ain’t running to Canada. I’m staying right here. You want to send me to jail? Fine, you go right ahead. I’ve been in jail for 400 years. I could be there for 4 or 5 more, but I ain’t going no 10,000 miles to help murder and kill other poor people. If I want to die, I’ll die right here, right now, fightin’ you, if I want to die. You my enemy, not no Chinese, no Vietcong, no Japanese. You my opposer when I want freedom. You my opposer when I want justice. You my opposer when I want equality. Want me to go somewhere and fight for you? You won’t even stand up for me right here in America, for my rights and my religious beliefs. You won’t even stand up for my right here at home.”
“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam when so-called “negro” people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?
No, I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over.
This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again: The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality.
If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people, they wouldn’t have to draft me. I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail. So what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.”