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In early November, Michigan’s court of last resort finally heard the oral arguments in the case of Rev. Edward Pinkney. The 69-year-old activist, free since June of this year after serving a 30-month sentence, is still pursuing the appeal on moral grounds. It’s been a long road, but he may have a receptive audience this time in the Michigan Supreme Court. There have been a large number of irregularities in Berrien County’s prosecution of Rev. Pinkney.
In these days of tremendous change and social upheaval, it’s good to know that a man of impeccable integrity is back in the public arena. After two and a half years in various Michigan prisons, Rev. Edward Pinkney has returned to his home in Benton Harbor, Mich. A bulldog for social justice, the reverend, who turns 69 this year, shows no sign of slowing. As a fighter for justice, Rev. Pinkney brings many gifts to the table.
Now, as the San Francisco Bay View newspaper’s 40th birthday year comes to a close, is the time to bring up to date the historical sketch of our paper that I began with Part 1 in the January paper. Piles of old papers rest on my desk, waiting to be read once again – a banquet of stories and pictures of our lives, our hopes, our goals. Let me let you taste the flavor of the freedom we continue to fight for in the age of Trump.
Rev. Edward Pinkney is the kind of preacher that Martin Luther King would have admired. Pinkney has for years advocated for his community, fighting for water rights, fair elections and social justice for the people of Benton Harbor, Michigan. Because of his political activities, he’s been targeted by the government, tried by the Michigan political machine before an all-white jury and, with no evidence, convicted of allegedly altering five petition dates!
The deliberate lead poisoning of the people of Flint, especially its children, babies and those still in their mothers’ wombs, likely ranks among the greatest genocidal crimes in the U.S. in the 21st century, an act of domestic terrorism comparable only to the thousands of murders of unarmed Blacks, Latinos and poor people by law enforcement since 2000. Direct action by the people can be the only appropriate response.
On Dec. 14, civil rights leader and political prisoner Rev. Edward Pinkney will have spent a year in Michigan state prison. An all-white jury convicted him of five felony counts of forgery for changing dates next to signatures on a petition drive for a recall election, though no evidence of guilt was presented. While Pinkney’s appeal proceeds slowly through the grinding gears of the judicial system, he remains in the clutches of the state.
A heavy and cruel hand has been laid upon me. On Oct. 6, 2015, I was transferred back to Marquette Branch Prison, a two-day ride on the bus, shackled, mistreated and intimidated. I was forced to strip on five different occasions. I am forced into overcrowding, inadequate exercise, lack of clean clothing and inadequate medical care which violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
St. Louis County declared a state of emergency for Ferguson on Monday due to the officer-involved shooting that took place on Sunday. Protesters were mourning the anniversary of the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown when shots rang out. The shooting victim is Tyrone Harris Jr. of St. Louis, 18, who was “real close” to Brown, his father says. In a rally the next day, dozens of protesters were arrested during a demonstration against police brutality.
If we assume that life is worth living and that man has a right to survive, I will say the body of assorted judges, prosecutors and politicians must be held accountable for their wrongdoing – their action and inaction. We must find a right alternative to injustice in America. Rev. Edward Pinkney has been deprived of his liberty for the last six months. He sits in prison falsely accused of vote fraud, separated from loved ones and community.
Another post-conviction motions hearing took place on April 14 in St. Joseph, Michigan, involving the conviction by an all-white jury late last year of a leading civil rights activist, Rev. Edward Pinkney. People traveled from throughout the state of Michigan and across the United States to support the Berrien County leader who many feel has been denied justice by a corporate-controlled racist system in the southwest region of the state.
Michigan political prisoner Rev. Edward Pinkney is now being held in Jackson state prison. He remains in good spirits despite the racist injustice that has landed him in detention over manufactured claims that he changed the dates on five signature entries on a recall petition designed to remove Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower. This is not the first time that Pinkney has been imprisoned for his political activities.
Berrien County Judge Sterling Schrock sentenced the leader of the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization, Rev. Edward Pinkney, to 30-120 months in prison based on an all-white jury’s verdict of guilty on five felony counts of forgery. The charges stemmed from a successful recall petition drive against Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower, who is perceived as a tool of the Whirlpool Corp. and the political power structure in the area.
The USA proclaims itself the “land of freedom,” but the reality is we live under the world’s most corrupt legal system. It has rigged courts, bribed judges, phony trials, extortion by lawyers and over 2 million prisoners. That’s more prisoners than any other country, in real numbers and proportionately. You can be sent to prison and even put to death with absolutely no evidence.
Hundreds marched in the streets of downtown Detroit on July 18 to protest water services being shut off for thousands of residents too poor to pay their utility bills. Nurses organizing the demonstration declared a public health emergency and called for a moratorium on the water shutoffs, a violation of human rights. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department announced a brief reprieve.
Benton Harbor reminds me of Mississippi in the late 1950s and early 1960s. I have never been one to rave about how much progress my generation has made, but I had hoped to see an end to these horrors in my lifetime. All citizens have the civil right to recall an elected official or initiate a referendum by way of petition. This is our only outlet. Berrien County sheriffs are intimidating, harassing and using Gestapo tactics to infringe on the civil rights of citizens of Benton Harbor.
Rev. and Dorothy Pinkney have been leaders in the fight against the corporate (Whirlpool) and state government’s direct takeover of the poor, largely African-American Rust Belt town of Benton Harbor, Michigan, the first American city to be placed under Michigan’s draconian new Emergency Financial Manager law. Join them on their Justice Tour in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and Fresno Sept. 27-Oct. 1.
Hundreds of people gathered in Benton Harbor Wednesday, April 27, to protest the emergency manager law that has stripped power from the local government. Leading the march and rally, Rev. Pinkney decried the hostile takeover of Benton Harbor by the emergency financial manager, intensifying the racist influence by Whirlpool that has grabbed much of the city’s priceless lakefront, including a large portion of Jean Klock Park, dedicated in perpetuity to the children of Benton Harbor. He invites everyone to Benton Harbor Saturday, May 7, to protest Gov. Snyder when he comes to town as grand marshall of the Blossomtime Parade.
In the 1960s, it was called Negro removal. In Bosnia, it was called ethnic cleansing. It could be called genocide: the removal of the minority population for the purpose of redevelopment of the land. That’s what’s happening in Benton Harbor and the foremost leader of the resistance is Rev. Edward Pinkney.
For well over five years now, Rev. Edward Pinkney, living in the depths of the de facto apartheid-type township of Benton Harbor, Michigan, has been waging a relentless struggle on behalf of the people of Benton Harbor (Berrien County) against the avaricious, blood sucking, wily Whirlpool Corp. and its mentally somniferous lackeys. It has been and remains, a real people’s struggle to, in the words of Huey P. Newton, “determine and control institutions, so that they reflect the integrity of the people” – in this case Benton Harbor. After he was locked up for over a year in eight different Michigan prisons, an appeals court has ruled in his favor.
A Michigan judge ruled this week that the Rev. Edward Pinkney, a Benton Harbor minister and longtime vocal community activist who recently served 13 months in jail, couldn't attend his own hearing in Grand Rapids before the Michigan Court of Appeals because he is under 24-hour house arrest and probation for quoting the Bible.
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