I greet you all, those gathered here in support of the work and liberty of Attorney Lynne Stewart, on the eve of her sentencing in federal court.
It is my pleasure to join y'all, if only in this limited way.
I also want to be clear that the sentiments expressed here are my own, and are not those of Lynne. I speak only to support her, and wish her a very favorable outcome in the days ahead.
Lynne Stewart is, simply speaking, a legend in the realm of law, for her defense of people engaged in struggles against the powerful. That said, I think it's safe to say that although she has defended Black nationalists, Lynne Stewart is not a Black nationalist. She has defended Puerto Rican nationalists, though I bet she isn't a Puerto Rican nationalist. And though she has defended Omar Abdel-Rahman (known as the blind Sheikh), who was convicted of involvement in the first terrorist strike at the World Trade Center, we can all agree she's no terrorist.
It is only in the maddening age, in the shadows of 9/11, that a prosecution like this could even be contemplated, and won! And that is a testament more to fear, than to reason.
Let's be honest -- She was convicted of essentially breaking a prison rule!
You know, if a prisoner violates a prison rule, he or she may get 30 or 60 days in the hole. Or, perhaps, a reprimand.
In the United States of America, Lynne Stewart faces 30 years!
That should make you wonder, not about Lynne Stewart, but about the country you're living in. About the nature of the thing we all call the 'law'.
Lynne Stewart, a 66-year old woman, is facing a life sentence for breaking a prison rule!
Of course, being the feds, prison rules have fancy titles, like the Special Administrative Measures (or SAMs), and yes, lawyers had to sign it to see their clients, but that's what it is, a prison rule.
Lynne's only 'crime' (if it can be called that), is thinking that the old rules sill applied after 9/11.
We -- all of us -- live in a world where Congress recently debated torture, and agreed to let George W. Bush decide! Where secret prisons now sit, administered by the CIA, in the former Soviet bloc countries! Where habeas corpus -- remember that so-called 'Great Writ?' -- will be denied to those who are tortured by U.S. military, government employees, (or private contractors) -- on King George's say so!
Lynne, like any thinking person, probably read the rules, saw that they were profoundly unconstitutional, and presumed that any judge who swore an oath to the Constitution, would say so too.
Maybe before 9/11. Not now.
This is our world. This is the madness that passes for sober thought in today's America.
But, the people -- each one of you -- aren't powerless. By being here tonight, you want to join your voice with Lynne's; to say, to show, that this woman isn't alone.
That is a good and powerful thing!
Yet, I must say one other thing (again, my opinion -- not Lynne's). Egypt is a terrorist state. It uses brutal and monstrous torture against its political opponents. Does that mean that one endorses terrorism against that, or any state? Of course not. But it means we cannot ignore state terrorism. Whether in Egypt -- or here in the U.S. of A.
Secret prisons. Torture chambers in Guantanamo, Cuba. Prisoners disappeared in Bagram, in Diego Garcia, and in places -- so-called 'black sites' with names unknown, where who-knows-what goes on.
It's time for people to join hands, join forces, and join movements, to change this sad state of affairs. Lynne Stewart's work, in support of human rights for all, and a zealous defense for all, is a damned good starting point!!
Speech Written 10/7/06] Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal