Workers Vanguard No. 1024

17 May 2013


14,000 Demand: Free Lynne Stewart Now!

(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)

As we reported two months ago, the family of class-war prisoner Lynne Stewart is waging a desperate fight for a “compassionate” release to obtain critical medical treatment. The 73-year-old Stewart has been battling breast cancer, which has metastasized and spread to her lymph nodes, shoulder and lungs. Following bouts of debilitating chemotherapy, Stewart’s cancer remains at Stage 4.

A radical lawyer with a history of defending leftists, black militants and others in the crosshairs of the imperialist rulers, Stewart was railroaded to prison on ludicrous “support to terrorism” charges for zealously defending her client, a blind Islamic cleric. Over 14,000 have signed a petition demanding Stewart’s release that was circulated by her family. Typical of the many messages of support, famed actor Ed Asner stated: “In tormenting Lynne Stewart the government seeks to terrorize all lawyers who would defend those targeted by State repression. The treatment of Lynne Stewart is a threat to due process, an assault on fundamental rights that date to Magna Carta.”

Last month, Stewart’s husband Ralph Poynter reported that the warden of FMC Carswell recommended Stewart’s release. Standing in the way of Stewart’s going home is the federal judge who resentenced her to ten years in prison. We continue to urge readers of WV to sign the petition posted on Contributions to Stewart’s legal defense can be sent to: Lynne Stewart Organization, 1070 Dean Street, Brooklyn, NY 11216.

We print below an appreciation of Stewart by Tom Manning dated April 3 and sent to the Partisan Defense Committee. Like Stewart and his comrade Jaan Laaman, Manning is one of 20 activists behind bars receiving stipends under the PDC’s program of support to class-war prisoners. Manning and Laaman were members of the group of anti-imperialist fighters that came to be known as the Ohio 7, convicted for their roles in a radical group that took credit for bank “expropriations” and bombings of symbols of U.S. imperialism, such as military and corporate offices, in the late 1970s and ’80s.

Before their arrests in 1984 and 1985, the Ohio 7 were targets of massive manhunts. Having already sentenced the Ohio 7 to decades in prison, the Feds subsequently tried three of them on charges of “seditious conspiracy.” Despite pouring $10 million into this effort, the government failed in its ominous attempt to revive the sweeping McCarthy-era criminalization of left-wing political activism. This was a victory for the working class and all oppressed. Yet today Ohio 7 attorney Stewart has been condemned to what could be a death sentence under the “war on terror,” presently a more effective means to isolate and witchhunt left-wing activists. Free Lynne Stewart! Free Tom Manning and Jaan Laaman! Free the class-war prisoners!

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Dear Folks—

Your stipend gift arrived, again, welcome and useful as ever.

In appreciation I thought I’d copy something I’d written for Mumia—back at ADX, and send it to you all. To do with as you will—a gift to a supporter?

Thinking about Lynne, a dear friend, a part of our defense team in all ten United Freedom Front trials—always bringing joy and solidarity into the prisons for late night visits hours of travel time away from her home in N.Y.C.—her children and her partner Ralph becoming part of the family—Ralph our investigator, traveling back to Ohio, Pennsylvania, and wherever else need checking on. Coming back with a report on how my Great Dane, Chico, was doing five years after I had to abandon him as the FBI Hostage Rescue Team assaulted our farm house with Huey helicopters bearing large Red Cross insignia—a violation of the Geneva Convention.

Their positive spirits in the visiting room would get under the skin of the guard that, one night they keyed Ralph’s car—all down the driver’s side.

Twice, the judge ordered blood taken from me to use DNA in the trial—knowing I’d resist to the best of my ability—in keeping with my vow of total non-collaboration. Lynne came into the prison as moral support. On the first occasion I was beaten so bad—the guys in the block rioted for four days, and Lynne was badly shaken. The authorities lost the videotape of the event. On the second occasion Lynne got a court order to bring a camera—and videotaped the whole thing. On each blood taking, the shoulder of the arm they wanted—was badly damaged—and both had to have open rotator cuff surgery. As I write I’m awaiting a total reverse shoulder implant—stemming from the original damage. Lynne’s tape of that day will always be there—as a piece of this history.

She would make sure we’d get to read any book we expressed interest in, or that she thought we’d find interesting—especially anything on John Brown. A man close to her heart.

So as I read of her troubles now—her health and captivity situation—it galls me bitterly not to be able to bring her relief.

The struggle continues!
Tom Manning