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Radical Civil Rights Lawyer Lynne Stewart Dies at 77

HeadlineMar 08, 2017

The radical civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart has died at the age of 77 from complications of cancer and a recent series of strokes. A former teacher and librarian, Stewart was known as a people’s lawyer who represented the poor and revolutionaries. Many considered her a political prisoner herself when she was given a 10-year sentence for distributing press releases on behalf of one of her clients, Omar Abdel-Rahman, an Egyptian cleric known as the “blind Sheikh,” who was convicted of conspiring to blow up the United Nations and other New York City landmarks. He died in February. While held in federal prison for nearly four years, Stewart suffered from stage IV breast cancer that metastasized. She was given 18 months to live. After months of campaigning, a federal judge ordered her “compassionate release,” and on New Year’s Day 2014, Democracy Now! was at the airport when she triumphantly returned to New York with her husband, Ralph Poynter, and was met by her family and friends.

Crowd: “We love Lynne! We love Lynne!”

Amy Goodman: “Lynne, how do you feel?”

Lynne Stewart: “Beyond joy. Beyond joy.”

Amy Goodman: “Lynne, did you think this day would come?”

Lynne Stewart: “Well, somehow or other, yes, but not as wonderful as it has come—”

Amy Goodman: “And how are you—”

Lynne Stewart: “—or as suddenly. It’s like bursting on me, you know? I mean, yesterday at this time, I was deep in the dungeons, and here I am in my beloved New York. It’s just wonderful. I can’t tell you. Oh, give me those flowers.”

Lynne Stewart died Tuesday at her home in Brooklyn. Click here to see more interviews with the late radical lawyer over the years

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