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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.
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.
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.
In March 2011, Michigan Public Act 4 (PA-4) was enacted that gives the governor's office the power to appoint so-called "emergency managers" for any broad, vague set of criteria. These emergency managers can then take over the entire operations of local communities or school districts, replacing elected officials.
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.
An all-white Berrien County jury had convicted Rev. Pinkney, the founder of Benton Harbor's Black Autonomy Network of Community Organizers (BANCO) and an associate pastor of Hopewell Baptist Church, in March 2007 on allegations of voter fraud. He won release from prison on bond in December 2008 only after the Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) took an interest in his case and helped with his defense.
A Court of Appeals granted the ACLU's motion for bond on behalf of Rev. Edward Pinkney, who is serving a 3-10 year sentence for harshly criticizing a judge.
Due to the great outpouring of support in Michigan, Rev. Edward Pinkney has become the Green Party candidate in the 6th District Congressional race. He is running against incumbent U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, a political heir to Whirlpool Corp.-Harbor Shores Community Redevelopment Inc.