By Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada
On the afternoon of March 23rd, the same day he would have turned 78 years of age, Leonard Wineglassâ€™s heart ceased to beat.
He had been a victim of a cruel illness and since January of this year he had entered into a critical and especially painful stage of health, despite this, he did not distance himself for an instant from his work. During the last months of life, heroically combating both the illness and physical pain he dedicated himself with body and soul to the preparation and presentation of the habeas Corpus in favor of Gerardo Hernandez and Antonio Guerrero, without neglecting the work on behalf of other comrades.
Shortly before entering the hospital where he was to undergo surgery, he took the final steps in the appeals process of Gerardo and Antonio and delegated to other colleagues what they should do while he was undergoing treatment. Only then did he accept the ordeal of taking care of himself.
He was always like that. In his youth he began working in the law offices of Victor Rabinowitz and Leonard Boudin, where he fought countless legal battles in favor of workers unions, civil liberties and justice in the United States. With his brilliant defense in 1968 of the Chicago 8, Lenny began an endless and admirable career as a defense attorney representing Jane Fonda, Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, Angela Davis, Mumia Abu Jamal, Amy Carter, Kathy Boudin and many more to include the Cuban Five and more recently collaborating with the defense team of Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. The history of the struggles of the American people can not be written without mentioning on every page, the name Leonard Weinglass.
Now and always we shall owe him our homage and gratitude.
Losing Lenny is a great blow to Gerardo, Ramon, Antonio, Fernando and RenÃ©. He had been their best and most relentless defender, he dedicated all of his energies and his talent to their cause, and for them he fought to the end in the midsts of pain and agony, to his last breath.
The struggle for the freedom of the Cuban Five must continue, now under even harder circumstances, without Lenny. We must all multiply our commitment until our brothers are free. We must do so without intermission or rest. It is the least we can promise this resolute, self sacrificial and lucid man, who will for ever be our beloved comrade Leonard Weinglass.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
Civil Rights Career
Weinglass has championed a number of liberal and radical causes. An expert in civil rights legislation, he served as co-chairman of the international committee of the National Lawyers Guild.
Along with attorney William Kunstler, Weinglass represented the Chicago 7 in their 1968 trial. He also participated in the defense of Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo, who were charged with leaking the Pentagon Papers and whose trial ended in a dismissal of all charges. In 1970, he represented and won the acquittal of Angela Davis who was charged with participation in the abduction and murder of a local judge. Other prominent clients included Kathy Boudin, a member of the Weather Underground charged with felony murder for her participation in an armed robbery; anti-war activist Ron Kaufman; Bill and Emily Harris (kidnappers of Patty Hearst); Jimi Simmons; and Skyhorse and Mohawk. He was for several years the lead defense attorney for Mumia Abu-Jamal. In 1995, he authored a book about Abu-Jamal’s case entitled Race for Justice: Mumia Abu Jamal’s Fight Against the Death Penalty.
In 1972, Weinglass took on the defense of John Sinclair, Chairman of the White Panther Party in Detroit, Michigan. The case became United States v. U.S. District Court, 407 U.S. 297 (1972) on appeal to the United States Supreme Court, a landmark decision prohibiting the government’s use of electronic survelliance without a warrant.
Leonard Weinglass traveled to Cuba (1968) and to Hanoi (1972). In 2010 he worked with the defense team for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Weinglass has worked with former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark.
Up until the end of his life at the age of 78, Weinglass continued to take on cases. He saw no reason to stop – “the typical call I get is the one that starts by saying ‘You are the fifth attorney we’ve called’. Then I get interested”.