Movement keeps pressure on to release Lynne Stewart

Lynne Stewart, June 2013

Lynne Stewart, June 2013

July 8 — The struggle to win compassionate release for the imprisoned, cancer-stricken people’s lawyer, Lynne Stewart, is still very much in the forefront of the progressive movement’s agenda.

The 73-year-old Stewart is currently in her fourth year of serving a 10-year sentence in Carswell Federal Prison in Fort Worth, Texas, on a fabricated “aiding terrorism” conviction for legally representing Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, who was falsely imprisoned for “sedition” in the 1995 bombing of the World Trade Center.

Since early March, an international campaign has been in full swing to demand Stewart’s release based on her deteriorating medical condition.  Stewart is suffering from stage four lung cancer and has lost over 60 pounds.  Thousands of people have both signed the compassionate release petition and made phone calls on her behalf, which forced Carswell prison warden, Jody R. Upton, to sign the release papers in early May.

His signing, however, was only the first step in the process of winning her release from prison.  The second step is to have the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Charles E. Samuels Jr., sign the release, which he has refused to do up until now.   Every minute of every hour of every day that Lynne Stewart remains in prison deepens the torture imposed on her and on her family and supporters.

Stewart’s life partner, Ralph Poynter, has been the most passionate and the most outspoken supporter on Stewart’s behalf, doing almost round-the-clock media interviews and initiating vigils in front of the White House, like the one on June 17.

Longtime social activist, Dick Gregory, also attended a recent protest in front of the BOP in Washington, D.C., to demand Stewart’s release.

In a July 2 message to the movement, Poynter declared: “The struggle to free Lynne Stewart continues on many fronts. First and foremost, each and every one of us must increase the number of people worldwide who sign the petition.

“Lynne Stewart’s condition is deteriorating rapidly. Medical treatment to arrest the cancer that is metastasizing in her body has been halted because she is too weak to receive it. She remains in isolation, as her white blood cell count is so low that she is at risk for generalized infection.

“We shall not stand by idly while the Federal Bureau of Prisons murders Lynne Stewart. The Bureau of Prisons can and must reverse its decision.”

In her June 25, “Disappointed but not devastated” message, Lynne Stewart stated defiantly: “We will never give up. I hope that your affront at this crass bureaucratic denial of the request, which you by your signatures and letters and phone calls, demanded — How far can we let this go? when a 73-year-old woman who IS dying of cancer (maybe not on their timetable), her life of good works ignored, be shunted aside … ‘she does not present circumstances considered extraordinary and compelling … at this time.’ We must show them that I cannot be ignored, that YOU cannot be ignored.”

On July 9, demonstrations demanding Stewart’s compassionate release will take place in New York City at Foley Square, Lower Manhattan Courts, followed by a march to 500 Pearl St. from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and in Los Angeles in front of the Westwood Federal Building, 11000 Wilshire Blvd. at 5 p.m.

And on July 12 in Washington, D.C., a protest will take place at Columbia Heights Civic Plaza, 14th Street and Park Road NW from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Sign the petition at IACenter.org/LynneStewartPetition or at LynneStewart.org.   See Dick Gregory, Luci Murphy and others defend Lynne Stewart in Washington, D.C., at http://tinyurl.com/lpn9csq.  Hear political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal’s audio column on Lynne Stewart along with commentaries by Lynne herself at http://tinyurl.com/kg6njsx.

Free Lynne Stewart and all political prisoners!!!