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Rally for Lynne Stewart in front of SF Federal Courthouse
Lynne Stewart, the much admired civil rights attorney who is struggling with cancer, has had her bail has revoked, and she is now being held in jail after a Federal Court ruled on her appeal last Tuesday. On November 23, demonstrators in San Francisco protested against the ruling.
Lynne Stewart embraced supporters outside a federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan just a few days ago. Yesterday demonstrators in San Francisco showed solidarity with her stance for defending unpopular clients. Ms. Stewart surrendered last week to begin serving her 28-month sentence for "assisting terrorism".
Her attorney, Michael Tigar, called the ruling an attack on the First Amendment right of free speech, free press and petition. Demonstrators in San Francisco agreed. They called for the freeing of not only Ms. Stewart but for other political prisoners as well. In 2005, Stewart was convicted on charges of conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists. Her felony conviction led to her being automatically disbarred. She was convicted of helping pass messages from her client, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, an Egyptian cleric convicted of planning terror attacks, to his followers. Demonstrators today said that she was actually convicted of daring to defend a much-hated client who, nevertheless, deserved the right to counsel.
Amongst those demonstrating were members of the ANSWER Coaltion, the Raging Grannies, and citizens who happened by after attending an immigrant rights demonstration directly across the street. One demonstrator interviewed stated she believed that Stewart's efforts to release communications from her client were part of her defense method to gain public awareness and support, that charges against Stewart were "trumped up" and that misogyny played a role in this conviction.