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The global campaign to save the life of Lynne Stewart gathers steam: 6,000 and counting!

April 7, 2013

by Ralph Poynter

Pam Africa, Lynne Stewart, Ralph Poynter march
With her husband, Ralph Poynter, on one side and Pam Africa, leading advocate for Mumia Abu Jamal on the other, Lynne Stewart leads one of the many marches and rallies held prior to her incarceration.
Signatures on the petition to free people’s attorney Lynne Stewart, dying of cancer in a Texas federal prison, have surpassed 6,000. People throughout the world are joining together to free Lynne.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu sent this cri de coeur: “It is devastating, totally unbelievable. Is this in a democracy, the only superpower? I am sad. I will sign. Praying God’s blessings on yr efforts.” – Desmond Tutu

Pete Seeger declared: “Lynn Stewart should be outa jail!” on a postcard signed “old Pete Seeger” accompanied by a drawing of his banjo.

To add your signature to the petition and learn more about her case, go to LynneStewart.org.

Petition to free Lynne Stewart: Save her life! Release her now!

Lynne Stewart 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.

Unjustly charged and convicted for the “crime” of providing her client with a fearless defense, the prosecution of Lynne Stewart is an assault upon the basic freedoms of us all.

After years of post-conviction freedom, her bail was revoked arbitrarily and her imprisonment ordered, precluding surgery she had scheduled in a major New York hospital.

The sinister meaning of the relentless persecution of Lynne Stewart is unmistakably clear. Given her age and precarious health, the 10-year sentence she is serving is a virtual death sentence.

Lynne Stewart 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.

Since her imprisonment in the federal prison in Carswell, Texas, her urgent need for surgery was delayed 18 months – so long, that the operating physician pronounced the condition as “the worst he had seen.”

Now, breast cancer, which had been in remission prior to her imprisonment, has reached Stage Four. It has appeared in her lymph nodes, on her shoulder, in her bones and her lungs.

Her daughter, a physician, has sounded the alarm: “Under the best of circumstances, Lynne would be in a battle of the most serious consequences with dangerous odds. With cancer and cancer treatment, the complications can be as debilitating and as dangerous as the cancer itself.”

Lynne Stewart, Ralph Poynter visit 010112
Lynne Stewart and her husband Ralph Poynter are reunited briefly in prison on New Year’s Day 2012.
In her current setting, where trips to physicians involve attempting to walk with 10 pounds of shackles on her wrists and ankles, with connecting chains, Lynne Stewart has lacked ready access to physicians and specialists under conditions compatible with medical success.

It can take weeks to see a medical provider in prison conditions. It can take weeks to report physical changes and learn the results of treatment; and when held in the hospital, Lynne has been shackled wrist and ankle to the bed.

This medieval “shackling” has little to do with any appropriate prison control. She is obviously not an escape risk.

We demand abolition of this practice for all prisoners, let alone those facing surgery and the urgent necessity of care and recovery.

It amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of human rights.

There is an immediate remedy available for Lynne Stewart. Under the 1984 Sentencing Act, after a prisoner request, the Bureau of Prisons can file a motion with the court to reduce sentences “for extraordinary and compelling reasons.” Life threatening illness is foremost among these and Lynne Stewart meets every rational and humane criterion for compassionate release.

To misconstrue the gravamen of this compassionate release by conditioning such upon being at death’s door – released, if at all, solely to die – is a cruel mockery converting a prison sentence, wholly undeserved, into a death sentence.

The New York Times, in an editorial on Feb. 12, has excoriated the Bureau of Prisons for their restrictive crippling of this program. In a 20-year period, the Bureau released a scant 492 persons – an average of 24 a year out of a population that exceeds 220,000.

We cry out against the bureaucratic murder of Lynne Stewart.

We demand Lynne Stewart’s immediate release to receive urgent medical care in a supportive environment indispensable to the prospect of her survival and call upon the Bureau of Prisons to act immediately.

To add your signature to the petition and learn more about her case, go to LynneStewart.org.

If Lynne’s original sentence of 28 months had not been unreasonably, punitively increased to 10 years, she would be home now – where her medical care would be by her choice and where those who love her best would care for her. Her isolation from this loving care would end.

Prevent this cruelty to Lynne Stewart, whose lifelong commitment to justice is now a struggle for her life.

Free Lynne Stewart Now!

Ralph Poynter and Family

Message from Lynne

Your outpouring of support has lifted Lynne’s spirits as she undergoes the ravaging effects of chemotherapy. On March 20, she sent this message to each and every one of you from her seven-person cell in the Federal Medical Center, Carswell, Texas:

“I want you, individually, to know how gratified and happy it makes me to have your support. It is uplifting, to say the least, and after a lifetime of organizing it proves once again that the People can rise.

“The acknowledgement of the life-political, and solutions brought about by group unity and support, is important to all of us. Equally, so is the courage to sign on to a demand for a person whom the government has branded with the ‘T’ word – Terrorist. Understanding that the attack on me is a subterfuge for an attack on all lawyers who advocate without fear of government displeasure, with intellectual honesty guided by their knowledge and their client’s desire for his or her case, I hope our effort can be a crack in the American bastion. Thank you.” – Lynne

Lynne Stewart graphic 1211 by Rashid Johnson, web
Drawing by Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, a fellow prisoner now in Oregon
Lynne Stewart devoted over 30 years of her life to helping others as a criminal defense lawyer. She defended the poor, the disadvantaged and those targeted by the police and the state. Such had been her reputation as a fearless lawyer, ready to challenge those in power, that judges assigned her routinely to act for defendants whom no attorney was willing to represent.

Now Lynne Stewart needs our urgent help or she may die in prison. Our determination can compel the Bureau of Prisons to file the motion for compassionate release that will free Lynne Stewart.

Check out the Justice for Lynne Stewart website, www.lynnestewart.org, to view the signatories (up to March 31, 2013), comments from signers, the postcard from Pete Seeger and much more.

Now Lynne Stewart needs our urgent help or she may die in prison.

Remind your friends to sign the petition and to disseminate it to others. Ask each person to get five people to sign, and each of those five to ask five people of their own. In five stages, you will have reached another 3,000 people! Sign the petition at www.change.org/petitions/petition-to-free-lynne-stewart-save-her-life-release-her-now-2.

Let the struggle spread far and wide!

Lynne’s letter to Archbishop Tutu in response to his support

My dear honorable Desmond Tutu:

I hardly know how to address you, for while we have never met face to face we are bonded as only those who fight for the rights and justice of humanity can be. As my husband and I are activists of many years and struggles, we can claim this lovely unity with you harking back to Nelson Mandela at Robbin Island, the original ANC and before. While I know you are still engaged in helping South Africa reach the highest level of the expectations of freedom, I am most pleased and amazed that you have taken the time to support my efforts against the U.S. prison system.

I have now been in jail as a political prisoner since 2009, but only recently been diagnosed with fatal cancer. The “mechanism” in the U.S. law that allows “compassionate release” is so infrequently utilized that the New York Times wrote an editorial criticizing the system.

Anytime the key to the jailhouse is placed in the hands of uncaring bureaucrats, freedom is at stake. Having been informed that their “rule” is that one must have death in the room, a prognosis of a year or less to be considered, once again forces me to don my armor and do battle – not just for me but for all the millions of prisoners who do not receive the consideration that they deserve. It is a fight to demand that each person is treated with individual care and attention.

It is with great joy that I see you joining me and this renews my hope and belief that the worldwide network of good caring people exists and can be made manifest. Thanks. Lynne Stewart

Dick Gregory to fast until Lynne Stewart is freed

Dick Gregory issued a declaration April 4, on the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., that “I shall refuse all solid food until Lynne Stewart is freed and receives medical treatment in the care of her family and with physicians of her choice, without which she will die. …

“In 2002, Lynne Stewart was targeted by then-President George Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft for providing a vigorous defense of her client, the blind Egyptian cleric Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman. She was charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist activity after she exercised both her and her client’s First Amendment rights by presenting a press release to a Reuters journalist. She did nothing more than other attorneys, such as her co-counsel former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, have done on behalf of their clients.

“The reason for the prosecution and persecution of Lynne Stewart is evident to us all. It was designed to intimidate the entire legal community so that few would dare to defend political clients whom the state demonizes and none would provide a vigorous defense. It also was designed to narrow the meaning of our cherished First Amendment right to free speech, which the people of this country struggled to have added to the Constitution as the Bill of Rights.

“The prosecution and imprisonment of Lynne Stewart is an ominous threat to the freedom, rights and dignity of each and every American. It is the agenda of a police state,” Gregory eloquently states.

Letter from Dick Gregory to the federal Bureau of Prisons director and to the warden of the Federal Medical Center, Carswell

Charles E. Samuels Jr., Director
Federal Bureau of Prisons
320 First St., NW
Washington, DC 20534

Dear Director Samuels,

I am writing urgently to ask you to make an immediate request of the Bureau of Prisons to file a motion with Judge Koeltl for compassionate release of Lynne Stewart, 53504-054.

Judge Koeltl acknowledged on the record that Lynne Stewart has devoted her life to representing the poor, disadvantaged and oppressed, declaring: “Ms. Stewart has performed a public service not only to her clients but to the nation.”

Lynne Stewart’s humanity has provided a moral compass for all of us who have fought for justice. It is only fitting that the humanity that she has manifested to so many should be extended to her.

Now her breast cancer, in remission when she was sent to prison, despite the fact that her legal rights were not exhausted, is in Stage Four, having metastasized to her lymph nodes, shoulder, bones and lungs.

Her physicians have made clear that to surmount her grave illness and to cope with the collateral impact of treatment, it is imperative for Lynne Stewart to have the emotional support essential to survival in daily conjunction with that coordinated treatment from her medical team impossible in her prison setting.

Lynne Stewart’s humanity has provided a moral compass for all of us who have fought for justice. It is only fitting that the humanity that she has manifested to so many should be extended to her.

In compliance with the 1984 Sentencing Act, I call upon you to urge upon the court the immediate release of Lynne Stewart.

We, too, will be judged for generations to come by our adherence to legal standards rooted in compassion and decency.

I am attaching the international petition setting forth the reasons for her compassionate release that I endorse in the strongest terms.

Yours sincerely, Dick Gregory

Ralph Poynter and his family can be reached at ralph.poynter@yahoo.com. He asks that readers write letters of encouragement to Lynne: Lynne Stewart, 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Ft. Worth, TX 76127.

A death sentence for defending her client: Lynne Stewart

by Mumia Abu-Jamal

Lynne Stewart, a brilliant, gung-ho trial attorney has a stellar history that many attorneys would kill for; a defense attorney who truly fights for her clients – and, far more often than not, brings them home.

She has battled some of the biggest cases in New York history, beating quite a few – and beating the government as well.

After her representation of Egyptian cleric Omar Abdel-Rahman for daring to speak out publicly in his defense and delivering a message of his thoughts to the public, she was charged with conspiracy, providing material support to terrorists, convicted, sentenced to (after an appeal) 10 years in federal prison and disbarred.

Lynne, 73, is a breast cancer survivor, and recently the cancer has returned. Her treatment, in federal custody, is, to say the least, far from optimal.

Those 10 years – increased by order of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals from 28 months – may prove a death sentence for a courageous, principled and brilliant defense lawyer who has been a bane to the state since she first walked into a courtroom.

Andrew J. Napolitano, former judge and conservative Fox TV contributor, has called the Stewart conviction a “perverse” victory for the Justice Department and “a travesty of justice: designed to intimidate all lawyers from vigorously advocating for their clients.”

To find out how you can help win justice for Lynne Stewart, go to www.LynneStewart.org.

© Copyright 2013 Mumia Abu-Jamal. Read Mumia’s latest book, “The Classroom and the Cell: Conversations on Black Life in America,” co-authored by Columbia University professor Marc Lamont Hill, available from Third World Press, TWPBooks.com. Keep updated at www.freemumia.com. For Mumia’s commentaries, visit www.prisonradio.org. For recent interviews with Mumia, visit www.blockreportradio.com. Encourage the media to publish and broadcast Mumia’s commentaries and interviews. Send our brotha some love and light: Mumia Abu-Jamal, AM 8335, SCI-Mahanoy, 301 Morea Road, Frackville, PA 17932.

 

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