Workers Vanguard No. 879

27 October 2006


"There Is No Justice in the Capitalist Courts!"

PDC at Lynne Stewart Rally

We print below a speech by Partisan Defense Committee counsel Rachel Wolkenstein at an October 15 rally in support of Lynne Stewart at Manhattan’s Riverside Church. The speech drew repeated applause from the hundreds-strong audience.

The Partisan Defense Committee, along with the Spartacist League, stands in solidarity with Lynne Stewart, as well as her co-defendants, translator Mohamed Yousry and paralegal Ahmed Abdel Sattar. The government prosecuted Lynne for being an ardent, effective courtroom champion of black activists, leftists and others deemed enemies by America’s racist rulers. Lynne represents that rare attorney who challenged the government’s attempts to dehumanize and demonize her clients. Lynne was falsely convicted of material support to terrorism and “conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government.” This from a government that gives new meaning to the quip that you know they are lying because their lips are moving!

But the terrorism to fear and fight is bloody, murderous U.S. imperialism, which is the main enemy of the world’s peoples. Indeed, Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, the Taliban and others of that ilk are the creation of U.S. imperialism in its war against the Soviet Union. From annihilation of the Native population, the enslavement of black Africans, colonial slaughters from the Philippines to Iraq, to the firebombings of Hamburg and Dresden, the atomic bombs directed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the history of America’s rulers is that of blood-soaked barbarity.

The attacks on September 11 provided the pretext for the government’s anti-immigrant, anti-terror campaign, creating a false “national unity” in which the U.S. capitalist rulers let loose slaughter in Iraq and stepped up the tools of state repression, first against immigrants, and then to be directed against black people and the whole working class, particularly those who are declared political opponents.

At stake in this fictional “war against terrorism” is the qualitative restriction and reversal of those democratic rights which were won on the battlefield of the U.S. Civil War and in class and social struggle over the past hundred or more years, including during the civil rights movement and with the defeat of the U.S. on the battlefields of Vietnam. Lynne’s conviction is intended to further imperial plans to designate any political opponent as an “enemy combatant” with no rights, no voice, no legal redress.

Lynne Stewart’s case is an object lesson in the class nature of the capitalist state—the police and military with their adjuncts in the courts and the prisons. The state is an instrumentality for organized violence by one class, the capitalist class, defending the frame-up profit system, against the working people, against minorities. Remember also, Lynne’s frame-up trial took place not in Judge Sabo’s Southern-style Philadelphia courthouse, but in the august halls of the Federal District Court.

Lynne made a statement a year ago at a rally we held on her behalf that her prosecution was also payback for her successful defense of Larry Davis. To have defeated and humiliated the frame-up racist cops so thoroughly put Lynne Stewart in the state’s cross hairs, no less than Mumia’s advocacy as a Black Panther Party member and supporter of the MOVE organization put him on death row.

Five years after September 11, despite the large numbers in this room, there is no working-class-centered, mass united-front effort in opposition to the “anti-terrorism” campaign, nor in defense of those victimized, such as Lynne Stewart. This is tied to the fact that the left has in the main been cheerleaders and organizers for the “Anybody but Bush” campaign, pushing the capitalist parties—the Dems and/or the Greens—as an answer to the justly hated Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld group. It cannot be ignored that Clinton and the Democratic Party are responsible for the 1996 anti-terrorist law and the SAMs [Special Administrative Measures] under which Lynne Stewart was prosecuted. The Dems promise to be more effective in the war on terror. Their complaint about detainees, rendition, secret camps and government torture from Abu Ghraib to Guantánamo is on the grounds that it has undermined America’s influence and power in the world. That is why comrades in the Spartacist League have called for a vote to Jeff Mackler for Senator from California, because his campaign draws a crude class line against the capitalist parties of the Dems and the Greens. What is necessary is a real workers party to sweep away this whole racist system of injustice. We say, in the spirit of John Brown, finish the Civil War—for a third American Revolution!

To fight and win in defense of Lynne Stewart, her co-defendants and others, such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, we must begin with the recognition that the bourgeois state will stop at nothing—from lies to terror—on the streets and in the courts. There is no justice in the capitalist courts!

What is needed is united action on a program of class-struggle defense, mobilizing the social power of the international labor movement. The only pressure that will impact on the state and its courts is fear of the consequences of locking up Lynne Stewart. This rally, and tomorrow’s at the courthouse, must send the message that the imprisonment of Lynne Stewart is a loss we cannot afford—and one we cannot allow. Freedom for Lynne Stewart!

Lynne Stewart will be speaking at a rally for Mumia on October 28, two weeks from now. She must be there!