Occupy the courts! Political prisoner Lynne Stewart’s call for a court vigil Tuesday, Feb. 28, follows her Attica essay
by Lynne Stewart
Attica 1971. Where were you that fateful day? All of us who considered ourselves political were coming out of a decade of resistance and demands for change. We were all involved – whether it was housing, civil rights, health or schools – trying to bring about a better world for all, against great odds. We had seen Kent State and My Lai and Chicago and jailhouse rebellions.
Assata, George and Jonathan Jackson, were as familiar to us as our own families – they were in fact our families! People who worked for the revolution we KNEW was coming, both in the underground – BLA, Weather – and on the over ground on the streets. We believed it was inevitable – I still believe that, but I have revised my timetable.
Then came the massacre at Attica and a new level of repression that many of us had not imagined. The brave heroes who captured Attica State Prison that fateful day in September – and took hostages for insurance – were ultimately defeated and lost their lives to the viciousness that underlies all things capitalist and American.
While the Attica Brothers thought they were negotiating in good faith with the state and had all the liberal-radical celebrities on their team – Wicker, Badillo, Kunstler and others – the plan of the oppressor was always “Lock and load,” “Kill ‘em all!” Let us never forget that the commander in chief was a Rockefeller – one of a family who became filthy rich on the backs of working people and peasants as far away as Brazil. Pure exploitation – and they have only one answer when threatened and it’s not building a church on Riverside Drive! (Although that too plays a role.)
One lesson of Attica had been taught years earlier by the great Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata: “Do not approach the government with hat in hand, but with rifle in fist!” We are still being lulled into the belief that if we can but find someone in government to “talk” to, we can win. We must learn that our enemies are more entrenched than ever and do not intend to yield to righteous demands or indeed ANY demands.
Our enemies are more entrenched than ever and do not intend to yield to righteous demands or indeed ANY demands.
Attica was led by men, some of whom were political by their own life’s dedication – Sam Melville from NYC’s own Lower East Side. Some had become political in the jails, and some joined and remained part of the resistance for life. Attica proved that the establishment must be more afraid of you than you are of them.
Attica was one of the major battles at the close of the ‘60s, and when we lost, we were hearing the footsteps of revolution fade into the background. The rest of the ‘70s and into the ‘80s saw the formation of small underground, clandestine groups that fought the military and the corporations but ultimately were crushed by the government and their members imprisoned.
What to do? Are we still crushed by the exploiters who are now free to steal without challenge and then spend it on wars that are only important to protect their far-flung capitalist imperialist empire? Do we want a new society that can be rescued from drugs and alienation and TV, the movies and Facebook? America has never fulfilled its potential. We must dare to struggle, dare to win!
And as we remember Attica, let us commit ourselves to the task of rescuing our political prisoners, POWs from the cruel prisons they have been captured in since before Attica! It is our most pressing task. If we cannot protect and free our comrades, we have no right to call ourselves revolutionaries – we are merely romantics looking back in sorrow at a “bad thing” that happened on a fall day in 1971.
As we remember Attica, let us commit ourselves to the task of rescuing our political prisoners. It is our most pressing task. If we cannot protect and free our comrades, we have no right to call ourselves revolutionaries.
When I remember pictures from the Yard – I see the well packed slave ships and the trenches with the victims of My Lai, the piled up bodies of the Nazi concentration camps. Life is so cheap to them. Throwaway people. It is only we who recognize and fight for the sanctity of all life, who can carry on from Attica and keep the forces of evil at bay. We must recognize what is important and how to strategize for VICTORY. I believe we can do it … we MUST do it.
“In the spirit of John Brown and Marilyn Buck, white people who paid tremendously for their alliance with the front line of the Black Liberation Movement,” writes Minister of Information JR, “Lynne Stewart sits behind bars because she defended legendary people who had an impact on the true history of the United States, like Black Liberation Army members Sekou Odinga and Bilal Sunni Ali, as well as New York’s infamous Larry Davis and the blind Sheik, Omar Abdel Rahman, who was accused of trying to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993.” Send our sister, a political prisoner, some love and light: Lynne Stewart, 53504-054, FMC Carswell, Unit 2N, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth TX 76127.
Lynne Stewart writes about her appeal and all-night vigil
Tuesday, Feb. 28, 6 p.m., all night until the Wednesday morning court appeal Feb. 29, OCCUPY Tom Paine Park (Foley Square Park), beside the Federal Courthouse at 500 Pearl St. in lower Manhattan. Stay overnight in the park to let the government know that we dissent from the use of incarceration as a tool of political terror. Come with your banners, drums, poems, prayers, songs, raps and shouts to the park, then OCCUPY the court to set Lynne free. Please read her message below and pass it on far and wide. – Ralph Poynter, Lynne’s husband
by Lynne Stewart
After the disaster in July 2010, when Judge Koeltl, following the directives of the Second Circuit, increased my sentence from 28 months to 10 years, our righteous indignation fueled this appeal. The government’s argument will center on my testimony at trial and the alleged perjury. All of those facts were before the court at the time of the 28-month sentence and were not the basis then of a double digit sentence.
Our brief attacks the increased sentence on two different fronts: one on a doctrine of “substantive unreasonableness,” meaning it’s just too much of an increase, fivefold, given the circumstances. Secondly, we argued that the only “new” information before the judge were my statements after my first sentence in October of 2008 and remarks I made on the courthouse steps before I surrendered to prison. We contend strongly that this is protected speech under the First Amendment of the Constitution and cannot be used to increase or as a basis for sentencing – even if they hate it!
The same group of three judges who heard and decided the original appeal will also hear the arguments on the 29th. The government is not asking for more time – they are satisfied with their pound of flesh – but it is not likely that this court will take any action that will help me. The times are askew for prisoners and their lawsuits. (The brief is available at my web site, lynnestewart.org.)
The lawyers who argued in July of 2010 will be on board with the addition of Herald Price Fahringer, an eminent attorney in the First Amendment field; the win in the Larry Flynt Hustler case in the U.S. Supreme Court was his. He was also in the line of fire – no injuries – when the shooting took place. He will enthusiastically present our case. I will not be present – not unusual once imprisoned. But my spirit will be there to inspire!
Of course, my case has always been government firing warning shots to lawyers that a vigorous defense of certain clients, if not conforming to government specifications, will be punished severely. This chill effect in these days when we are confronted with grand jury investigations and dismantling of occupations is not something we should contemplate with anything less than alarm. I have just finished David Gilbert’s book, “Love Struggle,” and the intercession of lawyers when there are arrests of designated enemies of the “state” are the only meaningful protection available.
A large outpouring of support in Foley Square and Tom Paine Park and in the courtroom will signal to these arbiters of “justice” that attention must be paid. The 99 percent are watching them with suspicion and tallying up the roads not taken.
Forty years ago Attica rose up
by Brandon Green
Forty years ago Attica rose up
Since then 600 million children starved to death
Pelican Bay comrades we’ve had enough
A revolution sparked by refusing pig lunch
Cover this one up, oppressor
We’ve had enough.
Supermax solitary chokeholding Attica’s sons
Gray-faced and pale captives dying alone
Bricks and steel sucking the life out of everyone
Clench-fisted against imperialism, we die as one.
Bring in your army and mow us down
Manufacture a cover-up, you plutocrat clowns
Each one of our body bags more heavy
Than a billion of your fascist small towns
Red flags draped over true soldiers’ coffins
Reminiscent of those buried beneath Kremlin gates
Red dawns rising like earth under stampeding buffalo
Another empire crushed poetically –
Like the Greek goddess of fates.
Forty years ago Attica rose up
And for the first time ever
One captive voice echoed the world over
We’ve had enough.
Send our brother some love and light: Brandon K. Green, 147075, Uinta One 309, Utah State Prison, P.O. Box 250, Draper, UT 84020-0250. His poem was written in September 2011.