Write to Pinkney: Lakeland Correctional Facility, Rev. Edward Pinkney # 294671, 141 First St. Coldwater, MI 49036

Sunday, August 02, 2015

The vicious, cowardly attack on democracy in Benton Harbor

“Build a society where the people, not corporations, make the decisions”

Rev. Pinkney and supporters outside Berrrien County Courthouse on the day of his sentencing. Left to right: Marcina Cole, Pati Heinz, Rev. Pinkney, Dorothy Pinkney. PHOTO/MARCINA COLE
Rev. Pinkney and supporters outside Berrrien County Courthouse on the day of his sentencing. Left to right: Marcina Cole, Pati Heinz, Rev. Pinkney, Dorothy Pinkney.
COLDWATER, MI — The vicious, cowardly attack on democracy in Benton Harbor, Michigan, shows that the corporate power structure is determined to crush anyone that stands in its way. The Whirlpool Corporation and government joined together to destroy the people of Benton Harbor. We call it fascism. It is part of the process underway across America in various forms. The once stable working class of Benton Harbor was devastated by automation and globalization and the community began to resist. They have to contain the struggle.
We live in a failed system. Capitalism has no solution to poverty. It does not permit an even flow of economic resources. A small privileged few are rich beyond one’s imagination, and almost all others are doomed to be poor at the same level. It is rich against the poor, the haves against the have-nots, and them, the rich, against the rest of the world. The time is revolution.
But like Rip Van Winkle who (so the story goes) slept though the American Revolution, today there are those among us who are sleeping through today’s revolution. There are those among us who are missing in action. We have to wake up! Today’s revolution is for human rights, freedom, justice and to do away with poverty. Any system that will not feed, clothe and house its people must be overthrown. It is like a monstrous octopus, spreading its nagging tentacles into hamlets and villages all over our world. Over 2/3 of the people of the world will go to bed hungry tonight; they are ill housed and ill nourished, without shoes and shoddily clothed. It is in Latin America, Africa, Asia and right here at home in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
We are demanding that America be true to the huge promissory note it signed years ago. The revolution will not wait. It will not slow down because some claim that progressives like Rev. E. Pinkney are “moving too quickly.” I am here to tell you we can win and will win.
Let’s make this struggle a victory for all who are victims of the economic crisis in every city and town in America. Let’s make the invisible visible: the poor—whether Black, white, red, brown, yellow, and all other people. Let’s take control of this country away from the corporations and build a society where the people, not the corporations make the decisions. The revolution is now. We can win.
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Copyright © 2015 People's Tribune. Visit us at http://peoplestribune.org

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Real Life Ann Arbor Police Stories

All occurred within the last 7 or so years. Details not know beyond what’s here. If we know of this many incidences, there must be many more. 

Ann Arbor Police 

—A Phd student friend, African-American man, rides his bike around Ann Arbor regularly. He said he’s been stopped by police on “numerous occasions,” questioned, asked for ID, and finally let go with cops usually saying he “fit the description” of someone they were looking for. He believes he’s always allowed to ride on because he displays his most polite manners. 

—A white man around 30, 6’8”, said that one night around 2am he was walking in a neighborhood when 2 or 3 AAPD officers attacked him for no reason and beat him up badly. He didn’t want the stress of a lawsuit but the dept. paid his hospital bills. Don’t know details beyond this. This is a guess: he was victimized because of his unusual height, i.e., he looks different. 

—This is an incident which we witnessed and participated in: As we drove east there was an officer “talking to” an African- American man on the sidewalk in front of the post office. It was a sunny, warm afternoon with a lot of people walking around. It was clear from our car that the African-American man was anxious and most likely being intimidated. His gestures indicated anxiety and fear. The cop’s back was to us. We parked and walked up fairly close. The cop was asking questions like, “Where’s your girlfriend?” “How long have you been downtown?”  This black man is around town a lot - he may be homeless, or poor. We interrupted from behind and the officer turned, changed demeanor, and put on a smile instantly. We said we would wait to ask a question when he had a minute. He immediately and very nicely told the man he could leave. The man turned, displaying relief, and walked quickly away. We made up a question to ask regarding our car. 

—Some white friends have a teenager in high school who got into trouble. 
TEN AAPD officers showed up at their house to take the child’s computer. 2 cops stationed themselves at the 2 diningroom doors, blocking them. They were told to stay in the room. 8 cops searched the entire house, taking a lot of stuff with them - mostly electronic equipment. The trouble the child got in doesn’t warrant this kind of a police action. Months later, the items taken have still not been returned by the AAPD. (My friends are known to be critical of city hall.) 

—A story from a friend: “I called Ann Arbor police about a tow truck driver who was behaving in a very hazardous way; it ended in a manner that officers on duty totally supported the driver! Could not believe, both that evening and the next day when I called the police station to file a complaint. Got screamed at and threatened. It was then I learned that when it comes to complaints against the police - written complaints ONLY. Those they cannot throw in the trash.” 

—A good friend reported that at least one restaurant in town allows AAPD police to eat and drink at no cost. He thinks there are several. 

—A white male friend leaves a bar and is randomly punched in the face by a stranger. What ensues is written up by AAPD, except it’s exactly the opposite of what actually happened. The man who was punched spends a week in jail for disturbing the peace. Needless to say, it was an awful experience for the man who tried repeatedly to appeal to police for his own justice w/o success. 

—A former taxi driver, said he was repeatedly harassed by a female cop after he beat her traffic ticket in court. He went to the police station to complain repeatedly, and finally the sergeant spoke to the cop, who fully admitted to the harassment. But when the harassment continued and he went to complain again, there was no trace of his former complaints nor of the officer's admission. 

—A good friend’s son graduated from Community High. In his group of friend’s was an African-American boy who left Ann Arbor soon after high school because of police. Too much harassment by AAPD. He was a great kid (with dark skin pigment.) 

4 AAPD incidents from the Black Student Speakout in the Union in Jan. 2015 

--A student said she had worked as bartender at Dream Nightclub. There were themes on different nights: Hip-Hop, Latino, Jewish, Gay, etc. The only time AAPD showed up were for Hip-Hop and Latino nights. A lot of police cars parked on the street and officers got out and harassed people. The owner or mngr. would have to go out and politely ask police to allow people to enter the nightclub. 

--A young man who said he worked at UoM said an AAPD officer knocked on his apt. door last week at 4am, waking him up. The cop said he had a few noise complaints and he was checking to see where the noise was coming from. (The apartment was totally quiet.) This white officer seemed very nervous. The man was questioned for 5 min., asked mundane questions like did he have people over, etc. During this uncomfortable interrogation, the noise from a party in a nearby apt. was obvious. 

--A student said he was walking to a party and was yelled at by officers and interrogated for no reason. They said he “fit the description of...” --A student said she and some friends were walking to a party. Officers stopped she and her friends and brought a dog out of the car. I couldn’t hear part of the story but the cops shut the party down at around 11pm. She said she hates walking around with a “target on her back.” 

Campus Police (Same ‘cop culture’ as AAPD and the rest of the country) 

—A black man I know was physically abused by cops on campus. Will get details. 

—A doctor I know was administering medical assistance to a man when a 6’8” campus officer wrenched her arm back so hard that she’s had phys. therapy on and off ever since. He forced her to stand in a corner for a long time. 

From Black Student Speakout: Campus officers surrounded black fraternity members outside practicing for a show. 6 cars. The cop said he knew they were practicing for the show. No brutality, but made them feel unwanted and watched. 

—This summer (2015) a black man was the only person sitting at a bus stop on Ellsworth in Ypsi. He’s an activist. A UoM canine unit vehicle drove up and stopped in front of him, a matter of feet from him. Windows rolled down and a command was given for dogs to bark. 

From a trusted friend, 30ish UoM professor

-- In my white friend's home, a woman concerned with her white boyfriend's mental stability called 911; Ann Arbor police came and were very forceful with him; they restrained him on the floor, his arms folded back, and he was forcefully removed from the house. There was no specialized psychological personnel in attendance. 

—In another white friend's home, a white woman called Ann Arbor cops complaining of assault by an African-American man who was also living there. When cops showed up, the man and my friend were calmly speaking in the living room. The police immediately cuffed the man; when my friend asked, “Why did you cuff him?", the cop who cuffed him said, “He looked  dangerous." The man was taken outside to be questioned, still handcuffed, in front of all the neighbors. 

-- An African-American Ann Arborite noticed an AAPD patrol car following her and her family day after day. She stopped to ask the officer why he was following her, and he answered that he was "trying to get to know who's living in the neighborhood." He also admitted to having received complaints and was disciplined in another jurisdiction for discrimination. 

--An African-American woman, a student at UM, has a boyfriend who goes to Wayne. They were stopped for speeding when he was driving her back to Ann Arbor. They were made to leave the car and were searched, police (maybe A2 but not sure of jurisdiction) made comments about the boyfriend's tatoos, and told my friend something along the lines of "do you really want to lose your degree, hanging out with this Detroit guy?" 

-- An older African American man told of his son who came to visit and was stopped by police (not sure of the jurisdiction) and searched on the way because he was speeding. As the son was leaving, the man advised his son to set his speed on cruise- control, so as not to go over the limit. On his way home, the son was stopped for being 5 miles below the speed limit. 


—A woman I know is helping black youth who get in trouble with the AAPD. She states that young black people who get arrested with a minor infraction are sent by the judge downstairs to get a drug test. If it is positive they automatically get 30 days in jail for which they are charged $99.00 a day. So, they end up owing the county $2970.00 when they get out and that does not help poor kids. Also, she is now trying to help one youth who is in jail to get his insulin shots as they do not give them to him. (White youth may also get this treatment.) 

—An African-American single mom I know is a UoM prof. She’s been researching countries to find out where humane policing is in practice. She’s become very afraid for her young son’s future under our current police system and is willing/planning to give up her job to move to a safer country. 

—Oregon story. Not related to A2 except that they share the same US ‘cop culture.’ A good friend who lives on the west coast attended a peaceful anti-war protest. Her boyfriend was beaten badly by cops and has been confined to a wheel chair since (3 years). The couple met with an attorney in hopes of filing suit against the cops. The attorney said he would no longer attempt to sue police for this reason - his words: “it’s impossible to win since the American public now gives unlimited power to police because they think police work is extremely dangerous and difficult — when, in fact, for the majority of working hours, cops have nothing to do.”

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Pinkney jailed for being a spokesperson for the poor

From the editors of the People’s Tribune

July 2015
Rev. Edward Pinkney speaks at a Detroit event to discuss plans to fight the mess banks and corporations have forced on the cities. PHOTO/DAYMONJHARTLEY
Rev. Edward Pinkney speaks at a Detroit event to discuss plans to fight the mess banks and corporations have forced on the cities.

Rev. Edward Pinkney, convicted without evidence of changing dates on petitions in a recall election of corporate-backed Mayor James Hightower, is filing a motion to be released from prison pending the appeal of his conviction. That they have refused to allow him to remain free while his appeal is pending shows how much they want him silenced.

At the center of it all is the Whirlpool Corporation, the largest producer of household appliances in the world, and the dominant political force in the area. While it’s international headquarters is in Benton Harbor, they ceased production there long ago. The electronic automation revolution that has been going on for decades affected not just Whirlpool, but all manufacturing in Benton Harbor (and the surrounding area) and decimated the job market. As jobs left, in exact proportion, poverty, hunger, destitution and homelessness increased.

A once thriving working class community of more than 20,000, it is now being economically transformed into a population less than half that size with a growing new class of impoverished workers who are permanently under-employed and unemployed. At the core of this new class are the homeless and completely dispossessed workers. It is Reverend Pinkney who has been the most vocal spokesperson for their interests. It is for this reason that he has been railroaded to jail.

This is an attempt to silence the demands of the new class for food, clothing, housing, health care and education and a new society that provides for their interests. The fascist control of our society by private corporations like Whirlpool, now merged with the government, will not allow these demands to be met. The problem can only be solved by public, not private ownership of the new and developing automated means of production so the necessities of life can be provided for all based on need. The struggle in Benton Harbor is a harbinger for all of society.

Donate to Rev. Pinkney’s appeal. Send to BANCO, 1940 Union St., Benton Harbor, MI, 49022, or visit bhbanco.org

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Copyright © 2015 People's Tribune. Visit us at http://peoplestribune.org

Monday, July 27, 2015

ACLU of Michigan Supports Release of Faith Leader, Activist, in Election Fraud Case

from Benton Harbor BANCO (Black Autonomy Network Community Organization)

Contacts (call 269-925-001 for contact information)
David Sole
Joe Peery


ACLU of Michigan Supports Release of Faith Leader, Activist, in Election Fraud Case
Constitutional rights violations alleged in case of Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor

GRAND RAPIDS—The trial of Rev. Edward Pinkney, 66, of Benton Harbor violated his constitutional rights according to a motion filed with the Michigan Court of Appeals. Supporters of Pinkney—including ACLU of Michigan who filed an amicus curiae brief backing the motion—are calling for his immediate release on bond pending appeal.

A veteran community activist from Benton Harbor, Pinkney was convicted last November on five felony counts of forgery based on allegations that he changed five dates on a petition intended to recall Mayor James Hightower. Currently in Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater, he maintains his innocence and faces 30 to 120 months in prison. According to the ACLU brief, his appeal is “almost certain” to lead to the reversal of the conviction. Pinkney has already spent over seven months in prison since his sentencing last December. Visitors from around the state attempt to monitor his health and safety.

“There are so many violations of Rev. Pinkney’s rights it’s hard to believe. Three witnesses stated emphatically that Rev. Pinkney was not present when another person altered the petition,” said Michigan civil rights attorney Hugh Buck Davis. “The prosecutor in the case was allowed to use Rev. Pinkney’s community activism as evidence. This is a serious violation of the Reverend’s First Amendment rights and due process. When the defense attorney raised objections, the judge called his constitutionally-based arguments ‘emotional rhetoric.’”

Pinkney and his supporters believe his human rights activism has made him a target of political persecution by local government and business interests. According to Davis, "Given the thousands of irregularities in election petitions in Michigan every year, it's clear that this is political prosecution in retaliation for successful community and electoral organizing. They like it until it looks like you are going to win. Two-and-a-half to ten years? He's a political prisoner.”

In just one recent example, Pinkney’s arrest warrant for the non-violent charges was served by a SWAT team surrounding his home at gunpoint. Such tactics, Pinkney says, are designed to intimidate all Benton Harbor residents who speak up against Whirlpool Corporation and local officials. Supporters charge that the unjustified prosecution amounts to election fraud.

Pinkney and other members of the Benton Harbor community group, BANCO (Black Autonomy Network Community Organization), have led multiple petition drives to recall local officials as one strategy of their campaign to promote democracy, civil rights, and economic justice in the county. Whirlpool Corp. is headquartered in Benton Harbor, which is 96% African-American and has among the highest unemployment and poverty rates in the state. Mayor Hightower’s opposition to a city income tax that would have affected Whirlpool Corp. resulted in the community’s effort to recall him.

BANCO and Pinkney have protested the four emergency managers, appointed by the governor under Michigan’s controversial Emergency Manager Law, who have operated the city instead of democratically-elected officials. BANCO was also among the most vocal opponents of the Harbor Shores golf course and luxury development that appropriated lakeshore land formerly designated as a Benton Harbor city park.