When I began my practice of law on Charles Street, I also began a scrapbook of cartoons and clippings on the subject of law and the absurdity of the legal system. One of my favorite was a smarmy, grinning lawyer leaning over his desk and saying to the client “You have an excellent case, Mr. Jones. Now just how much justice can you afford ??” This has been the root issue since the Judicial system has been in place–not questions of righteousness but of class, of state control over people’s resources and freedoms
If you look around Foley Square (Tom Paine Park) and follow Down Centre Street, there is a litany of wrongs perpetrated in each and every Courthouse you see. Some of us know these injustices in the most personal way–they happened to us. It is fair to say that it is the duty of those gathered here tonight. those OCCUPYING to focus attention on this flawed system on behalf of the 99%, in which I include myself. It is our duty to point out that the wheels are coming off their wagon. The imposing courthouses that surround this square and I have always been reminded of how they look so much like the Banks–They reflect which? or who is in control. The old federal courthouse(40 Centre) with its shameful history of the Rosenberg’s trial is still using scapegoats. In those days it was red, communist–now it’s Islamist but it’s the same Govt Big Scare. Entrapped defendants are convicted now because the T word –Terrorism is mesmerizing and frightening. So many of these cases are so riddled with over reaching and government misconduct. Send in an informant and seduce young men with all the toys offered by this society until they seem to succumb and join the informant’s scheme. The unbeatable federal government with bottomless resource will do the rest. They have gone so far as to convict someone for supplying a pair of socks to Ben Laden!!
The next courthouse at 60 Centre Street is the one that is the backdrop for “Law and Order” a television fantasy of law and cases. Focused completely on the Prosecutor and his never ending successes, that fictional Court is clearly more about ORDER than law. But then again all of the law serves ORDER –the order of the $$$, the order of power. In its real life, this Court is where the foreclosures take place, the lawsuits against the NYPD when they kill a hapless teenager in Harlem.
Continuing up Centre Street — the tomblike 100 Centre Street , the starting line and also the finish line of Michelle Alexander’s New Slavery, young men, mostly black and brown being fed into that abominable system of Incarceration –over and over and over and then forever,
Across from 100 at 111—the Civil Court–crying babies, crowded calendars and Landlords taking advantage of tenants without lawyers. Also across is located the Family Court and a most dysfunctional family it is !! Heartrending as children are taken from parents and sometimes sent to worse abuses. Juveniles committing CRIMES who are warehoused in upstate prisons where they are harmed physically and psychologically scarred forever by guards and fellow adolescents alike.
Yes my friends and comrades, from our perspective, that of the 99 %, the wheels have all come off the wagon and it cannot be fixed except by a different wagon — a different economic system that will in turn mend the legal system because it will be forced to serve the People–not the interests, not the money, not the Power.
We should never forget that in the words of Arudahti Roy-”We are many. They are few” This is the true power–Change that can alleviate the unnecessary suffering and provide a society that is fair and just.
Tomorrow morning, to complete this circle my case will once again before a Court that on the prior occasion “lost it” when they wrote opinions that were so personally vindictive that one of their colleagues said it was more like letters to the editors. If punishment is their goal I have been in jail for 27 months and believe me, I haven’t been standing on my head. I have seen deaths by negligence and wanton cruelty ,as well as day in day out, Arbitary justice. I want the Court to declare that my right to speak out cannot be compromised/punished even by Courts who don’t like what I say . I want to get out, as every prisoner does,but I want to continue to be the gadfly I have always been. if I have to serve the full sentence of ten years, I will still emerge as I entered–my principles unsullied and strong !! Thanks for all the cards letters books money to commissary and mostly the words of support and belief in our cause. It is being remembered that counts and you all keep me alive !! Shoulder to Shoulder, Onward to Victory !!
Lynne Stewart 53504-054 Carswell