Fight Back News Service is circulating the following message by Lynne Stewart to the Jan. 25 protests against the FBI and Grand Jury witch hunt that has been unleashed on anti-war and international solidarity activists. Lynne Stewart, a heroic and long-time progressive lawyer, is serving a ten-year prison sentence in Fort Worth, Texas for allegedly helping terrorists. Her courage and determination stand as an example to all of us who are working for peace, justice and equality.
By Lynne Stewart
I began my career as a political movement lawyer. The government was rounding up the last of the diehard militants, many of whom had been underground, and prosecuting them as a part of the Panther movement.
They also subpoenaed anyone with any tangential relationship to those who had been arrested. I am talking about their daters, their lovers, their teachers, their religious leaders, their estranged relatives, those who had attended meetings, rallies etc.
All of these activities centered upon an expropriation in suburban New York of a Brinks armored truck and the people who were arrested then and later. Their purpose? To intimidate that branch of the movement that could be counted on to support militancy and troll for even the most insignificant crumbs of information that might be fitted together to enmesh suspects.
What happened? Most people who had been taped by the government lawyered up with movement lawyers, guided in part by the legal work of Bob Boyle and Guild lawyers who had written legal representation before Grand Juries which remains the standard on what to do and when to do it. A person subpoenaed is in the unenviable position of having only the vaguest idea of what the government may want and is faced ultimately with the choice of testifying against comrades or spending long months in jail.
They may even face a possibility of being indicted for contempt and facing a sentence that is completely up to a judge. In the face of this challenge in that day, I can only say that most people chose not to testify and to wait out the government. They gave up an existence as they were living it - jobs, relationships, and all that constitutes daily life, and they went to jail. And they stayed in jail for many months and they didn’t give in.
Now we are in another era - one that was not born from the euphoria and idealism of the 60s, and the government is once again arresting, subpoenaing and tormenting movement people, hoping they will become informants. And the reaction of the movement? We resist.
We stand strong with the resisters who elect not to become part of the same prosecution team that has terrorized the world. Now the so-called Department of Justice (ha!) has decided to focus on support groups of the world's peoples and also on eco-terrorism. Why? Because they can! It sends a message to the people that it’s dangerous; don’t join, don’t resist. That message must once again be shouted down, first by the resisters who will go to jail and second by us, the movement who must support them by always filling those cold marble courtrooms to show our solidarity and by speaking out so that their sacrifice is constantly remembered.
Our principle of non-collaboration has so far proved robust. There has been no wavering. Our support must continue to convince everyone involved that these are issues of principle. There can be no compromise. Resisters must be defended to the utmost of our strength and abilities.
Carswell Federal Prison