Message on the declining health of people’s lawyer Lynne Stewart

Lynne Stewart

March 6, 2017

The following message from progressive journalist and activist Bob Lederer was made public on March 4 regarding the health of Lynne Stewart, the beloved people’s lawyer and former political prisoner.

Ralph Poynter [Stewart’s spouse] told me the following very sad news last night, and has authorized me to distribute it publicly:

Our beloved People’s Champion (and WBAI Local Station Board member) Lynne Stewart suffered a major stroke last Wednesday [March 1], the latest complication from the cancer that has now spread throughout her body and invaded her brain. She is resting comfortably at home and is not in pain, but can only speak sporadically. Her doctor has said she does not have much time left.

Ralph and Sister Betty Davis are … taking good care of her, as are her doctor-daughter Zenobia Brown and long-term friend of 63 years, Virginia Gernes. … Because of the high expense of Lynne’s ongoing care, Betty has launched an online fundraising campaign. Please donate generously.

I learned all this minutes after Ralph accepted an award for Lynne at a major public event by the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee, which honored a large group of lawyers and doctors who have supported U.S. political prisoners. As we know, for years Lynne went out of her way to provide strong representation to a pantheon of dedicated radical activists facing prison — before she herself suffered a similar, cruel fate.

Let’s all send Lynne, Ralph and Betty our hugs, love and best wishes for this final journey. Such a heroic fighter — Lynne, we love you!

P.S. Ironically, her latest stroke occurred hours after a New York Times article appeared based on an interview with her, which noted that she had survived three years beyond the compassionate release granted her (on Dec. 31, 2013) following a statement by her prison doctor that she would not likely survive beyond 18 months.

Ms. Stewart said in a 12-page handwritten letter to the judge in 2013: “Isolated, in hospital, as I now am, I have time to contemplate life and death. I do not intend to go ‘gently into that good night,’ as Dylan Thomas wrote. There is much to be done in this world. I do know that I do not want to die here in prison — a strange and loveless place. I want to be where all is familiar — in a word, home.”

This is a fitting reminder of that people’s victory three years ago, brought about by Lynne’s will of steel, Ralph’s indefatigable barnstorming and the movement’s rallying behind her.