On Monday night, friends, family, colleagues, and clients gathered to remember CCR's late president emeritus Michael Ratner. Many of them touched on Michael's and CCR's guiding belief of success without victory. Below are some highlights from the memorial service.
Photos by Rafael Shimunov
Nearly 1000 people attended, wtih many more watching a broadcast outside the building and a livestream on Democracy Now!
Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman emceed the event.
Michael’s family listened as those who loved Michael shared their memories.
“Legally, the case was not successful.” But, through the lawsuit, those victimized by the contras in Nicaragua gained friendship, solidarity, and support from those in the U.S. organizing against the contras. And Michael and CCR’s work did not just provide legal support – “It helped me heal,” said Myrna.
“Michael tilted at windmills. But sometimes he actually knocked them over.” Brescia told the story of Michael’s effort to obtain a Temporary Restraining Order in CCR’s case challenging the first detentions at Guantanamo, of HIV+ Haitians in 1993. When the TRO was issued, fellow instructor Harold Koh asked, “What do we do now?” to which Michael responded, with a smile, “I don’t know, I’ve never won one of these before!”
- Raymond Brescia, Professor at Albany Law School and former student of Michael
People would warn Michael against pursuing universal jurisdiction cases and Michael would say firmly, “If these laws cannot be applied against the powerful, what were they made for?” Wolfgang spoke of Michael’s “revolutionary patience and modesty.”
- Wolfgang Kaleck, General Secretary, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR)
Julian Assange spoke by video feed.
“Law is primarily designed to ensure that existing power inequities are reinforced… Nonetheless, one can hack the judicial system to do something it was not designed to do—administer justice and Michael was a great and effective campaigner in doing this.”
CCR Executive Director Vince Warren speaks to the crowd. Read his remarks here.
Attendees were greeted with signs honoring Michael as they left the event.