Rev. Pinkney Arrested AGAIN, supporters: Lynn Stewart, Voice Of Detroit, EXPOSED,

What's really happening to the people of Benton Harbor:
The thrust [of the Berrien county courthouse] is to physically remove and destroy families through the use
of the criminal justice system. Every person they can put in jail; every person whose voting rights they can
revoke with a felony conviction; every person they can cause to lose their job by putting them on probation;
every person they can cause to lose the ability to pay for basic necessities through imposing ruinous court
costs and probation is all part of the process. 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. --Civil rights attorney, Hugh "Buck" Davis

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The ominous atmosphere of racism and criminal justice bias permeated the preliminary hearings, the trial and the sentencing phase

Civil Rights Leader, Rev. Edward Pinkney’s Sentence Unjust, Politically and Racially Motivated

Rev. Edward Pinkney Sentenced to Two-and-a-Half to Ten Years by Berrien County Court

Rev. Edward Pinkney. (Photo: Dorothy Pinkney)
Civil Rights leader maintains his innocence while supporters see convictions as politically motivated

By Abayomi Azikiwe
St. Joseph, Michigan
Libya 360°
Berrien County Judge Sterling Schrock sentenced the leader of the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO), Rev. Edward Pinkney, to 30-120 months in prison based on five felony counts of forgery by an all-white jury. 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.
Pinkney has been a longtime activist in Berrien County where Benton Harbor is located and his work in the state of Michigan has drawn national attention. This is the second time in seven years that the BANCO leader has been convicted on charges related to efforts to hold local officials accountable to the people.
Prosecutor Michael Sepic requested a 42-month sentence based on the previous convictions in years prior extending back to the 1980s. Atty. Tat Parish, who defended Pinkney during the highly politicized trial and sentencing, requested that the judge exercise discretion by sentencing the activist to probation.
Over 130 people sent letters to the Judge Schrock requesting that he set aside the verdict and release Pinkney. Although the jurist acknowledged the letters he also sought to minimize their significance.
Atty. Parish stressed that the letters came from notable figures from around the country. “Although these people may hold ideas that we may not agree with they are good people who say that the community needs Pinkney,” the defense lawyer told the court.
Outside the courtroom Parish told supporters of Pinkney that he appreciated the role they had played during the difficult trial. “A criminal appeal lawyer, one of the best in the state, will take over the case for the next phase.”
Activists present from various cities were outraged at what they perceived as a total travesty of justice carried out by the local courts. They pointed out that police who have been videotaped killing African Americans were allowed to go free while Pinkney had been convicted and sentenced to prison without any material evidence.
During the prosecution’s presentation of its case against Pinkney during Oct. and Nov., there was no eyewitness testimony that would implicate the Berrien County activist in the alleged crimes committed. Even though the prosecutor and judge said the evidence was circumstantial, there were no clear cut motivations articulated which would place Pinkney in a position to change the dates on the recall petitions.
No handwriting experts testified who could determine that it was Pinkney who changed the dates. A series of witnesses called by the prosecution stated unequivocally that they circulated the recall petitions based upon their desire to replace Hightower who opposed a tax measure that would provide corporate resources for the rehabilitation of Benton Harbor in the interests of its poorest residents.
The courtroom was full for the sentencing hearing while people lined the hallway during the proceedings which lasted for over two hours. Armed white Berrien County sheriff deputies stood up during the entire proceeding guarding the doors and during later portions of the hearing, one of the officers moved to stand behind the prosecutor.
Two other unidentified white men sat next to the prosecutor during the proceedings. After the conclusion of the hearing Pinkney was placed in handcuffs and taken into detention.
People had traveled to St. Joseph from around the United States. Ralph Poynter of the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee based in New York City was on hand for the sentencing. Delegations were also at the courthouse from Berrien County, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Chicago, Nebraska, East Lansing, among other cities.
Rev. Pinkney Addressed the Court
Prior to the sentencing Rev. Pinkney spoke to the court saying that he was not guilty and “would not admit to something I did not do. I am hurt that this jury convicted me without any evidence.”
He later turned to prosecutor Sepic pointing at him saying “you know I did not do anything illegal.” Prior to sentencing Judge Schrock lectured Rev. Pinkney saying that his sentencing is designed to send a message.
Although the judge said that people have a right to seek the recall of a public official, he then turned to sentence the community leader to a lengthy prison term. Later the judge accused Rev. Pinkney of misrepresenting the political situation in Berrien County.
The area has an extensive history of racism and police repression. Benton Harbor’s African American community faces conditions of poverty, unemployment and police brutality.
BANCO through its organizing efforts has exposed the corporate entities in the county in their mad drive to maximize profits at the expense of the most oppressed and exploited within this region of southwestern Michigan. The ominous atmosphere of racism and criminal justice bias permeated the preliminary hearings, the trial and the sentencing phase.
Supporters Protest Convictions as National Struggle Escalates

After the hearing concluded supporters of Pinkney stood and comforted Mrs. Dorothy Pinkney, his wife. When asked outside the courthouse about where her husband would be detained, she said that “I have been told nothing.”
In the parking area supporters held a prayer vigil, an impromptu press conference and demonstration. People began to chant “Free Rev. Pinkney.”
Soon enough police cars began to arrive on the scene. Security personnel from inside the courthouse came out and told protesters that they would have to clear the area where cars drove into the county complex to park.
Law-enforcement vehicles from the city police force and state police were deployed.
Activists and defenders of Pinkney placed the sentencing within the broader context of the racist attacks against African Americans from Ferguson, Missouri and New York City all the way to California. Since the killing of Michael Brown on Aug. 9, the U.S. has been hit by a continuous wave of anti-racist demonstrations and rebellions.
Since late Nov. and early Dec., these manifestations have taken an even more mass character where protesters have drawn the links between police repression, judicial misconduct, the grand jury system and the corporate rule over U.S. cities and suburbs. These demonstrations have closed down streets, shopping malls, highways and low-wage employment centers.
The blatant acts of the capitalist corporations and their agents in government are causing greater political consciousness and intolerance among African Americans and many people of goodwill. In Berrien County and throughout the state of Michigan, majority African American municipalities, including the largest city of Detroit, have been taken over by politicians operating on behalf of the banks and multi-national firms–where fundamental voting rights and due process guarantees have been terminated.
These efforts by the racist power structures in cities, states and at the federal level are taking place without a response from the oppressed and working people. The demonstrations which have drawn hundreds of thousands into the streets across the U.S. will increase in their numbers and militancy.
New alliances and organizations will emerge to provide a consistent and ideologically directed focus to the burgeoning struggle. The racist capitalist system can no longer hide from the penetrating analysis of the growing mass movement against racism and capitalist exploitation.
Developments in Berrien County, Michigan serve to illustrate the character of the current crisis and the willingness of people to resist this renewed onslaught by the ruling class.

Abayomi Azikiwe 
is the editor of Pan-African News Wire , an international electronic press service designed to foster intelligent discussion on the affairs of African people throughout the continent and the world. The press agency was founded in January of 1998 and has published thousands of articles and dispatches in newspapers, magazines, journals, research reports, blogs and websites throughout the world. The PANW represents the only daily international news source on pan-african and global affairs. To contact him, click on this link >> Email

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Gail Freehling: A dishonest juror

Rev. Edward Pinkney filed a motion for a new trial based on the violation of his rights to impartial jury.  He became aware after the verdict that Gail Freehling did not truthfully respond to inquiries as whether she knew or was connected with one of the prosecution's main witnesses, Sharon Tyler.

Freehling was called to the petit jury box around 1:39pm October 23, 2014 when defense attorney Tat Parish specifically asked the jurors during the voir dire, while juror Freehling was in the petit box, whether they knew or had connection with either of the two particularly important witnesses James Hightower and Sharon Tyler. This was around
4:18-4:19pm in the video for October 23, 2014. Gail Freehling lied to get on the jury in order to help her friend Sharon Tyler.

Gail Freehling was also asked at other times, more than once, whether they knew or had connection with any of the persons on the witness list, including Sharon Tyler. Juror Gail Freehling said nothing in response to these inquiries and did not honestly respond that she is a friend of Sharon Tyler and has had contact with her through the Three Oaks Flag Day Parade from 2010 through 2014 and through the Miss Blossomtime Festival pageant. Juror Freehling in fact listed Sharon Tyler on Freehling Facebook web page as a friend. We have the page to prove it. 

Gail Freehling lied to get on the jury to convict Rev. Edward Pinkney.

Juror Gail Freehling also is chairperson of the Three Oaks Flag Day Parade and has held this position from January 2010 to present. We have the documentation to prove it. Sharon Tyler was a participant in the Three Oaks Flag Day Parade each summer between 2010 and 2014. We have documentation.

The parade in 2014 was held in June, a few months before Pinkney's trial. During the voir dire of the jurors, they were asked if they knew or had contact with police officers. Juror Freehling did not respond to these inquiries and did not honestly respond that she knows 
and has contact with a number of police officers.

Several police officers and police entities are at the forefront of the Three Oaks Flag Day Parade. The first thirteen are all police officers. Thirty-four is the Berrien County Sheriff Department Mounted Division. Also included are Berrien County judges, elected officials including Fred Upton, and many more. Also, Juror Gail Freehling is a Chairperson for the Miss Blossomtime Festival pageant and has been in this position from 1991 to present.

Sheriff Bailey and Undersheriff Chuck Heit are on the board of Directors for the Blossomtime Festival, with Heit being on the board from 2010
to the present.

Undersheriff Heit's daughter, Kyra Heit, won Miss Blossomtime in 2010. During the Blossomtime pageant, Sharon Tyler was invited to be in a photo with the blossom time court. Kyra is also one of Freehling's Facebook friends. Rev. Pinkney filed 11 recalls on Sharon Tyler the county clerk.

Juror Freehling was actually biased and impartial as a juror during Rev. Pinkney's trial based on her relationship with Sharon Tyler and her relationship with law enforcement officers and other officials.

Gail Freehling had one thing in mind: to convict Rev. Pinkney at all cost. Even to commit perjury and violate the law. 

We are also investigating several other jurors who may have been part of this corruption.  How can you convict a person with absolutely no evidence against him? Well, part of the answer is to hand pick biased jurors.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The fight in Benton Harbor is a war - article published today

Convicted With No Evidence by an All-White Jury, Black Community Leader Faces Life in Prison

Friday, 12 December 2014 12:12 By Victoria Collier and Ben-Zion PtashnikTruthout | News Analysis 
(Image: Judge and gavel via Shutterstock)(Image: Judge and Gavel via Shutterstock)The fight in Benton Harbor is a war, it’s not a conflict. It’s a war over whether America will have prosperity and democracy, or live in poverty under the heel of open corporate rule. - Rev. Edward Pinkney
As reports escalate of police assaults and murder of unarmed black men for "suspected" crimes, a jury trial certainly sounds like welcome justice.
Not so for many in Michigan, where a 66-year-old black activist, Rev. Edward Pinkney, convicted of felony election fraud by an all-white jury, faces a life sentence, amid accusations of trumped-up charges and no direct evidence of wrongdoing.
When an all-white jury is chosen to try a prominent black community leader of an embattled, impoverished city with a 90 percent black population, when the powers that be have numerous reasons to want him discredited, and when the evidence is entirely lacking and the punishment is draconian, there is ample cause to suspect another egregious breach of justice, as blatant as refusing to indict the police who killed an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, and choked a father of six to death in Staten Island.
To be clear, there is nothing illegal about trying a black man with an all-white jury in the United States. In the 1986 Supreme Court ruling, Batson v. Kentucky, the court held that a defendant is not entitled to a jury containing or lacking members of any particular race. But in this case of activist, Reverend Edward Pinkney, his supporters believe it is equivalent to a white mob lynching an "upstart Negro."
For decades, Rev. Pinkney has been a highly irritating thorn in the side of the Whirlpool corporation and the power structure in Michigan; a state where racial and economic divisions are ugly and stark. In recent years, democratic governance of six low-income, majority African-American cities has been forcefully suspended by state "Emergency Management."

No direct evidence was presented to the all-white jury to implicate Rev. Pinkney, who was charged with altering data on public petitions to recall Mayor Hightower, as a Michigan State Police forensic technician testified.

Pinkney is founder of BANCO, the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization, and is arguably the loudest, most outspoken activist in Benton Harbor, which fell under the dictatorship of emergency management, imposed by the state, in 2010. His organization holds spirited rallies and takes direct political action against what the group claims is rampant government-corporate collusion, police corruption, economic injustic, and a discriminatory - even "genocidal" - plan for gentrification of the city.
Rev. Pinkney has also taken on the dominant power in the city of Benton Harbor - the Whirlpool Corporation. The criminal charges against him stem from his attempt to recall Mayor James Hightower for foisting a multimillion-dollar loan on the citizens of the city to balance the budget, while refusing to tax Whirlpool, a $19 billion Fortune 500 behemoth that pays absolutely no taxes to Benton Harbor, where it is headquartered.
A majority of city commissioners voted against the loan, but they were simply overruled by the "emergency manager."
According to Rev. Pinkney, the recall petition against Mayor Hightower was due to his support of the loan and lack of support for a proposed city income tax, which could have produced $3.5 million annually to pay off the city’s debt, forcing corporations - including Whirlpool - to pay their fair share. While the income tax vote lost in a public referendum in November, 2013, Rev. Pinkney believes more voters would have supported it had they known about the upcoming loan.
The charges against Rev. Pinkney derailed the petition to recall Mayor Hightower, who many believe would likely have been ousted had the election taken place, including former Benton Harbor City Commissioner Trenton Bowens, who just retired.
"I’ve never seen this many citizens so frustrated. They feel the mayor is for big business and not about people. Pinkney is a radical, he wasn’t on anyone's payroll, he was protesting at the hospital, the courthouse, the mayor's house, city hall. If the status quo does not like you, they will do anything to get rid of you. It's a sad day."

There was a palpable sense of something being done wrong to everyone in the room as we watched the proceedings in both events, as basic rights were being violated.

No direct evidence was presented to the all-white jury to implicate Rev. Pinkney, who was charged with altering data on public petitions to recall Mayor Hightower, as a Michigan State Police forensic technician testified. The charge was that some signatures were made one day prior to the 60-day window required by state law, and that dates were later changed to make the signatures valid.
The signatories testified that they had signed the petition on the correct date in question, and no one claimed that they saw Rev. Pinkney change any dates. Mark Goff, a forensic document examiner with the Michigan State Police, stated the dates were written with two different inks, but that he could not determine who made the changes, or when they were made.
The crime itself of altering data on petitions is only a misdemeanor offense under Michigan law. Despite all this, the white prosecutor decided to charge Rev. Pinkney with five counts of felony election fraud "forgery." The 66-year-old activist was convicted on November 3 and now faces a up to a maximum life sentence; he will be sentenced by a white judge on December 15.
Rev. Pinkney’s arrest began with similar overkill in May, when neighbors reported that an armed police team had stormed into his house to arrest him. "They could have just called me on the phone," says Rev. Pinkney, who had taken his wife out to dinner for her birthday. His attorney, Tat Parish, had already informed the state that his client would turn himself in. "They put me under house arrest and said they would monitor me by satellite. Very unusual for a recall petition."
In stark contrast, the surprise write-in victory of white outsider candidate Mike Duggan as Detroit Mayor in 2013 was riddled with public accusations of fraud and numerous submissions of evidence, but that highly questionable election was never even officially investigated. Jean Vortkamp, former Detroit mayoral candidate and Election Integrity activist, presented evidence of Duggan’s write-in ballots, with clearly identical handwriting to elections officials, but was completely ignored.
"The common point between Reverend Pinkney's prosecution and the Duggan recount," says Vortkamp, "is that in both places these people felt free to do anything, no matter how downright ludicrous. There was a palpable sense of something being done wrong to everyone in the room as we watched the proceedings in both events, as basic rights were being violated. It was something you could almost touch. These people live without shame or fear, with a pathological righteousness grown from hatred."
Since 2000, the state has installed "Emergency Managers" with nearly dictatorial powers in nine economically struggling cities, including Flint, Detroit and Benton Harbor. The purpose is to implement corporate- and bank-led financial "restructuring," which has included forced bankruptcy, privatization of public assets, slashing city budgets, disabling unions, cutting worker’s pensions, and - in Detroit this summer - shutting off water to thousands of low-income families in what the UN called a human rights violation and public health crisis.
Promising to create jobs by the right-wing playbook, Republican Governor Rick Snyder has lowered state corporate taxes overall, raised individual taxes, cut public education, and in 2012, Republicans used a lame-duck session to rush through a union-busting "right-to-work" bill.
Yet, while unemployment in Michigan has lowered along with national levels, analysts point out that job creation has dropped every year of Snyder’s administration. Today the state remains saddled with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Once a vibrant manufacturing center, Benton Harbor is now one of the state’s poorest cities, where over half the population survives with public assistance.
Though blaming the poor for their plight is a central tenet of far-right-wing ideology, the reality, as most Americans agree, is rather more complex. But how much does white America really understand about the myriad unequal underpinnings of our poorest minority communities?
As with other similarly distressed cities, Benton Harbor’s demise must be examined in light of the long-term government-sanctioned structural racism in housing, schooling, lending and employment throughout the 20th century. Combine this with corporate economic policies - radically accelerated in the past 40 years – explicitly designed to benefit the wealthy at the expense of the poor and working class.

We certainly cannot expect to see white Wall Street bankers in a deadly police chokehold over their "suspected" crimes against millions of defrauded Americans.

Neoliberal trade agreements have decimated manufacturing in Rust Belt states like Michigan, while Tea Party-driven politics undermined collective bargaining and support for increases in the minimum wage. Add predatory corruption to the mix: In 2008, Michigan was among the states hardest hit by the financial crisis, where criminal lenders had targeted low-income, predominantly African Americans for loans they could not afford.
Those criminal banks and lenders, as we know, have yet to fall under the purview of American justice - of any kind. We certainly cannot expect to see white Wall Street bankers in a deadly police chokehold over their "suspected" crimes against millions of defrauded Americans.
As minority cities like Benton Harbor sank over generations into poverty, drugs infiltrated neighborhoods. The explicitly racist war on drugs thus commenced its relentless persecutions of the poor - particularly young black men - while turning a blind eye to the rampant drug culture of the wealthy elite, who are not subjected to daily harassment, frisks, beatings, home invasions or demonization for their myriad - sometimes celebrated - addictions.
Over time, this galling prejudice undermines respect for law enforcement in poor communities. The lack of trust is only compounded by police criminality including planting evidence, falsifying search warrants, and stealing money and property from residents - some of which got two Benton Harbor officers convicted and jailed in 2010, including the head of the narcotics unit. "Benton Harbor has the most corrupt police department in the nation," wrote Rev. Pinkney of the nearly all-white law enforcement in the nearly all-black town.
The same dangerous racial imbalance is found on the Ferguson, Missouri, police force, and many more across the country.
Growing public outrage and mass demonstrations is allowing racist police corruption to be more safely exposed by whistleblowers, such as former St. Louis cop, Redditt Hudson, who writes in The Washington Post:
"The problem is that cops aren’t held accountable for their actions, and they know it. These officers violate rights with impunity. They know there’s a different criminal justice system for civilians and police. Even when officers get caught, they know they’ll be investigated by their friends and put on paid leave. My colleagues would laughingly refer to this as a free vacation. It isn’t a punishment. And excessive force is almost always deemed acceptable in our courts and among our grand juries. Prosecutors are tight with law enforcement, and share the same values and ideas."
Finally - and not least - the drive to corporate privatization of the American prison system has turned poor and minority citizens into fodder to fill for-profit target quotas of 100 percent cell occupancy. Over 2 million people are currently behind bars in America, providing a source of third world-style prison labor for major corporations from Starbucks to Victoria’s Secret, to the United States Military.
Such complex social malignancy is poorly understood by the affluent classes and never discussed by the white, 1%-owned corporate mainstream media. Today this means that blighted minority communities are easy pickings for the wealth-engorged vulture-capitalist class. Using unequal media access to defend their brazen land and resource grabs, they spout simplistic, racist justifications that "those people" are lazy and cannot govern themselves. Some even promote the "post-racial" theory, denying that racism plays a fundamental part in shaping present American society.
In fact, 26 racist hate groups are known to be operating in Michigan today, and the state was a major hub of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, targeting black people in the Great Migration north from southern states to industrial centers. In the late '90s, when the Klan appeared in Benton Harbor again, it was Rev. Pinkney who organized citizens to avoid their demonstrations and "deprive them of an audience."
But if Rev. Pinkney has taken the role of David in Benton Harbor, he clearly sees Goliath as the Whirlpool Corporation. The multi-national appliance giant has closed factories and cut five thousand jobs nationwide in recent years, outsourcing some manufacturing to Mexico, citing the race-to-the-bottom of free-trade economics as the grounds for abandonment of American workers. Though Whirlpool closed its last Benton Harbor plant in 2010 and laid-off hundreds, it remains the primary industry in the area.
Whirlpool is among many Fortune 500 companies that have pulled the "Get out of Taxes Free" card. Congress has authorized hundreds of millions in tax credits for Whirlpool, whose total income taxes - including foreign, federal and state - were (negative) -$436 million in 2011, -$64 million in 2010, and -$61 million in 2009, according to The Boston Globe. The company carries forward federal credits as "deferred tax assets" that it can use to lower future tax bills. "Multinational companies and banks, including General Electric, Citigroup and Ford Motor Co., with investment earnings from overseas accounts, won tax breaks collectively worth $11 billion - a return on their two-year lobbying investment of at least 8,200 percent," according to a Globe analysis of lobbying reports.
Rev. Pinkney writes, "Whirlpool should pay taxes. Whirlpool is among the wealthiest, greediest corporations in the world. Somebody needs to ask the Whirlpool Corporation and Mayor Hightower how they can sleep at night. Mayor Hightower continues to support and enable the greed at Whirlpool at the expense of Benton Harbor residents.  Because of his corporate collusion, he joins all of the giant corporations who are directly responsible for the severe poverty in the city of Benton Harbor."
Whirlpool begs to differ, citing the Habitat for Humanity homes that its employees helped build, the Whirlpool Foundation’s funding for a Benton Harbor Boys and Girls Club and large grants to the city’s poorly performing public school system.
Countering that Whirlpool exploits the poor using the model of predatory home loans, Rev. Pinkney points to the 1999 conviction of Whirlpool Financial and one of its dealers in Alabama, caught in a fraudulent state-wide, door-to-door sales scheme. Peddling drastically overpriced satellite dishes on so-called "Whirlpool Credit," with a 22 percent interest rate, according to law firm Beasley Allen, Whirlpool bilked millions of dollars out of thousands of people. "A former agent testified that Whirlpool specifically targeted illiterate and unsophisticated people, and that he had trained others to lie about the terms of the financing."
Today a bitter source of contention between Benton Harbor residents and Whirlpool is what many see as the hostile take-over of Jean Klock Park, a green- and dune-scape, bequeathed to the city solely for public use in 1917. The real estate fronts gorgeous Lake Michigan. In 2008, a consortium of Whirlpool Foundation and two other nonprofit groups privatized the heart of the park as part of a $500 million development called Harbor Shores, a planned enclave of high-end homes, shops and hotels, including a "Jack Nicklaus Signature" golf course. Harbor Shores Community Redevelopment promised to attract business, tourists and new middle- and upper-class homeowners.
In May, 2012 Rev. Pinkney organized Occupy PGA, boisterously marching 100 protesters to the Golf Club at Harbor Shores during the 73rd Senior PGA Championship, a $2.1-million golf tournament. Occupy PGA demanded that 25 percent of the Senior PGA profits be provided to the city. They also called for boycotts of KitchenAid, the Senior PGA's presenting sponsor, and Whirlpool.

Today this means that blighted minority communities are easy pickings for the wealth-engorged, vulture-capitalist class.

Additionally, Rev. Pinkney and others claim the 530-acre Harbor Shores deal violates the 1977 Land and Water Conservation Fund Act protecting the Jean Klock park under the condition that the land remain forever open to the public or, if closed, be replaced with land of equal fair market value and reasonably equivalent recreational use. However, according to two citizen opposition groups, the land given in exchange is scattered and contaminatedwith industrial chemical waste.
Reporting on both Harbor Shores and a new $68 million, 270,000-square-foot corporate campus for Whirlpool (subsidized with millions in tax credits), The New York Times stated:
"The juxtaposition of Benton Harbor’s impoverished population and its two rising monuments to wealth - all wedged into a little more than four square miles - make it almost a caricature of economic disparity in America. But at the same time, it offers a window into one possible future for towns across the country, places that can no longer support their own economies or take care of their citizens and may ultimately have no choice but to turn their fate over to private industry and nonprofits. The way things are going, more and more states may start to look like Michigan, and more and more towns may start to look like Benton Harbor."
The Times noted that the Harbor Shores proposed economic and cultural revitalization in Benton Harbor included a free, 10-week course called Bridges Out of Poverty, designed to "prepare residents culturally to join the middle class." The course description states:
"Moving out of the culture of poverty requires more than an increase in financial means . . . and accepting achievement as the driving force in one’s life. It will require one to learn and use middle-class language and behaviors."
But many residents fear that Whirlpool and wealthy developers are planning to turn their town into an expensive vacation resort that in truth can only exist by driving out current low-income population. Benton Harbor officially exited Emergency Management and returned to local control in March, 2014, with a small transition team comprised in part by former Whirpool managers.
Local social justice activists are proffering a radically different, grassroots-driven vision for Benton Harbor and other cities. Seeking post-industrial solutions for the Rust Belt and beyond, they include - in fact, require - greater democratic empowerment of poor communities in building their own future.
Prominent activist leader Charity Hicks was beloved in Detroit for her capacity to articulate this hopeful vision; an "irresistible narrative" of societal transformation that affirms human dignity, inspires tolerance and diversity, rebuilds the commons and challenges gentrification, corruption, and centralization of power. "Repeat after me," said the always colorful, strikingly beautiful Hicks at McGill University in 2013, "Resistance. Resilience. Restoration. Reimagining."
Hicks was killed in 2014 by a hit-and-run driver. The loss of her leadership is deeply felt among Michigan activists, struggling to find paths forward into a future made more uncertain by the undermining of democracy in their communities.
The loss of Rev. Pinkney would also leave a deep hole in the activist community of Michigan, but it wouldn't be the first time. A recall attempt of a city commissioner in 2005 also landed Rev. Pinkney in court, where after an initial mistrial he was convicted on March 22, 2007, of five counts of election fraud including possession of four absentee ballots, which he denies, insisting he was framed to silence his political activism. Speaking of the new charges Rev. Pinkney says, "I didn’t see this coming. I just didn’t think they could do this to me again."
Appealing for support in his case, Rev. Pinkney writes in his well-known rabble-rousing style:
"This is not a thing of Blacks against Whites. It is Rich against Poor and the Haves against the Have-nots. Corporate fascism is here now. We must stand together and fight this Police State. Together we stand, divided we fall. There is more Power in the People, than the People in Power."
Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Prosecutor Sepic Protects His Friend, Robert Wooley

It was another sad day for Berrien County. 

Prosecutor Mike Sepic's friend, Robert Wooley, was charged with embezzling almost a million dollars from seniors.

A warrant was authorized by prosecutor Mike Sepic for the arrest of Wooley who
was allowed to turn himself in -- without a Swat Team surrounding his house.

He was released on $25,000 bond; a hearing was scheduled for Monday, December 15.  Mike is trying to protect his friend by only charging him w
with one count of embezzling which Robert Wooley accomplished over seven years. If Robert was a black man in this county, his bond would have been set at 1 million dollars. My bond was set at $30,000 dollars for a recall petition.

In the seven year period, Wooley was stealing from the poor and giving to himself. He transferred money into an investment account from the Senior Center accounts; he then regularly moved funds from the investment account into his own account. It should be more than 50 counts of embezzlement, but prosecutor
Mike Sepic and Robert Wooley are friends and friends in high places take care of friends in Berrien County, Michigan.  To the detriment of many others.

The fellow County Commissioners were in total shock. Who would believe someone would file criminal charges against a County Commissioner who is connected to the power structure? Who would have the nerve?

Prosecutor Mike Sepic and Robert Wooley are friends and both are members of the Berrien County (GOP).

Which Berrien County Commissioner will be next to get arrested? As corruption rolls on in this most corrupt of (probably) all Michigan counties. 

Rev. Edward Pinkney
Pinkney to Pinkney show
Every Sunday at 5pm ET
Burn Baby Burn
Burn all NAACP Membership Cards