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Published Nov 24, 2010 11:00 PM

Lynne Stewart

November 20 marked the one-year anniversary of the incarceration of “The People’s Lawyer,” 71- year-old Lynne Stewart. The U.S. government sentenced her to 10 years imprisonment for allegedly “aiding a terrorist,” the blind Egyptian Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, who is serving a 100-year sentence for complicity in the first bombing attack on the World Trade Center.

Apparently, this is the first time a lawyer has been disbarred or criminally prosecuted for violating an administrative order forbidding the public conveyance of thoughts and words of a client. Stewart’s conviction is intended to have a chilling effect on other attorneys who dare to follow in her footsteps. The government has made her part of the their post-9/11 “war on terrorism.”

On Nov. 20 close to 100 activists and independent media journalists gathered one more time near the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan where Stewart is imprisoned. The mood was both spirited and somber. Rally speakers expressed their love and admiration for her courage and willingness to fight against injustice, to speak truth to power and to turn words into action and organizing. They were there to give strength and words of encouragement to Stewart and each other, saying they can’t do enough to repay her.

Speakers stated that Stewart served as a role model to many in the legal profession, yet too many of her colleagues lack backbone and principle. They said that the job of all of us is to relieve the burdens of all subjugated political prisoners residing in the citadels of injustice and its predatory system. And they asserted that we must continue the struggle to protect our First Amendment rights, resist U.S. fascism and dare to stand up against aggression and tyranny.

Speakers described Stewart as a woman who joins all great women in history who have been punished for making change for the betterment of humanity.

During the rally Ralph Poynter, Stewart’s partner, received a phone call from California activists who said, “Stay strong. We are all Lynne Stewart!”

As supporters began to march to the prison for their outside “visit,” several cop cars approached in an attempt to redirect them. The marchers, however, continued. Police harassment and intimidation continued throughout, but supporters were not deterred.

As darkness came, protesters turned on flashlights, accompanied by drummers, noisemakers and shouts toward the prison windows.

Poynter shouted, “We’re here for you, Lynne, and all the incarcerated with you.” Collectively, the group chanted, “Free Lynne Stewart,” “We’ll continue your fight,” “Free all political prisoners,” “Never give up hope,” “We love you, Lynne” and “Be like Lynne, struggle to win.” Due to a lockdown and possible threats, however, only an occasional brave prisoner appeared at the windows for brief moments.

Upon leaving, Poynter shouted his final message to Stewart: “Remember, we’re here for you, Lynne. You will never be forgotten. See ya later. This is not good-bye.”

Stewart’s supporters were all aware that their greetings to Lynne might be the last chance to “visit” her in New York, as an impending out-of-state transfer seems imminent. When that will happen and to which location is unknown at this time.

After leaving the prison, Stewart supporters attended a commemoration of the life of another freedom fighter, Puerto Rican Nationalist Party activist Dolores “Lolita” Lebron. She was incarcerated by the U.S. government for 25 years for fighting for Puerto Rican independence. Lebron passed away on Aug. 1.