Monthly Archives: December 2013

Lynne Stewart: Radical “People’s Lawyer” & Dying Political Prisoner Supporting the Oppressed With all Her Guts

Feminist Rag Award NEW_Lynne Stewart

“The Government is masterful at Co-optation, at snatching victory and making it defeat.”

74-year old Lynne Stewart is a rare example of someone with privilege (i.e. a white woman with a law degree) who used that privilege to fight for the rights and justice of humanity with all her heart and guts.  Doing so got her imprisoned on bullshit bogus charges by the oppressive US colonist government and she is now wasting away with stage 4 cancer in Carswell, a women’s federal medical prison in Texas (the only one in the country).

Unjust imprisonment (segregation of people is only ever okay towards those who are a legitimate danger to others) is an all too common tragedy for anyone who is an effective freedom fighter.  Awesome and radical American Indian activist Leonard Peltier comes to mind; he has has been illegally imprisoned and mercilessly tortured by the sadists in charge for the last 37 years and counting.  The psychopathic colonist government does everything in their power to either destroy you or your family if you rock the boat too much and have too many people paying attention to what you say in the name of true freedom and liberation.  The FBI has said that John Trudell, another fierce American Indian activist, is extremely eloquent, therefore extremely dangerous.  This is evidence of how much fear un-mined, thinking minds instill in the violent colonist oppressors so hell bent on control.

Getting punished didn’t stop Leonard or John from fighting for freedom, and it didn’t stop Lynne from fighting for the oppressed using “the law” as her weapon.  Activism is not a walk in the park; it is a very serious and oftentimes dangerous endeavor and one that can cost you your life if you’re good at it.  Luckily Lynne has a lot of people across the world supporting her, so here’s hoping she’ll be released very soon so she can spend what’s left of her life surrounded by loved ones.

From her website:

Lynne Stewart is a radical human rights attorney who has devoted her life to the oppressed – a constant advocate for the countless many deprived in the United States of their freedom and their rights. Lynne has been falsely accused of helping terrorists in an obvious attempt by the U.S. government to silence dissent, curtail vigorous defense lawyers, and install fear in those who would fight against the U.S. government’s racism, seek to help Arabs and Muslims being prosecuted for free speech and defend the rights of all oppressed people. She was arrested in April 2002 and arraigned before Manhattan federal Judge John Koeltl, who also presided over her trial in 2004. She was convicted, and received a 28-month sentence in October 2006. However she was free on bail until 2009, when the government appealed the sentence. In late 2009 Lynne was re-sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. She is now in a federal medical facility for women in Texas, thousands of miles away from her home, family and community.

Please sign this petition asking for Lynne’s immediate release from prison on compassionate grounds.

For any of you who believe in “the law” and have plans to try using it to seek justice, check out Lynne’s words to aspiring lawyers:

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.

Lynne is a refreshing reminder to me to fight until my last breath for what is Right.  She also has me re-considering law school.  Not because I believe in “the law” or the psychopaths that create and enforce laws in the predatory colonist culture, but because if you learn the oppressor’s language you can use it against them, in this case their legal mumbo jumbo in their precious court rooms — until they punish you for it.  But we will get punished either way at some point for standing up for what’s right, so then the question becomes “in what way do I want to fight for what’s Right, and what am I good at?”

Good luck to my fellow freedom fighters in our collective struggle for liberation, and good luck to Lynne Stewart in getting out of prison immediately.  Thank you Lynne for showing us what it means to use privilege in a positive way that truly helps others; I hope to see many more lawyers follow in your fierce lawyering footsteps!

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Teen Sexual Violence: What our Media and Culture Is Missing

Excellent article by Nadia worth reading, including some good links provided throughout to learn more, including two pro-active prevention/education programs for this very preventable cultural horror show. We create our culture; it’s up to us to change it.

Listen Girlfriends!

The year 2013 has definitely brought about a shift in cultural consciousness. For the last year, our culture and media have finally started to critically examine rape culture and the prevalence of sexism, harassment and sexual assault worldwide. We were horrified by the tragic events in Steubenville and New Delhi, India. These assaults touched and angered so many of us and triggered an urgent call not just for dialogue and awareness, but also, for education and systemic change.  To that end, the Title IX movement, which is working to fight campus rape culture, launched earlier this year. Its mission is to work to “support all survivors, to change how colleges and universities handle sexual assault, and to change a culture where violence is normalized.” Survivors and allies have filed federal Title IX and Clery Act complaints at various universities in the U.S. for not providing the needed resources…

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