Sign the PETITION
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
"Other videos feature people speaking in defense of Edward Pinkney, who was convicted of voter fraud in 2007."
As long as Pinkney is around to speak truth to power, we can expect to read this type of thing in the HP. It will never be mentioned that both the Berrien County courthouse where he was convicted and the infamous judge Butzbaugh who convicted him are steeped in the most vicious corruption in Michigan. And, it will never be reported that Pinkney was framed. Much of this story can be found by clicking on the links at the beginning of this website.
Friday, December 26, 2008
By Michael Dee, http://www.ursm.us/
Alaskans have enjoyed constitutional protection to possess marijuana since 1975. I have one question for NORML what happened to the rest of us?
Millions of Americans have been arrested and their property has been seized for violating the marijuana laws.
Millions of us have the right to question the validity of these laws and are denied the right to due process of law.
Marijuana is still illegal because the judiciary does not recognize marijuana users as persons and does not recognize marijuana as property. Only persons and property under the Constitution’s 4th and 5th Amendments are protected from unreasonable deprivation.
Lawyers and judges deny the enforcement of the marijuana laws affect individual rights to privacy, liberty and property secured by the 4th and 5th Amendments.
The courts claim no rights are affected by the enforcement of the marijuana laws because marijuana is not a fundamental right. Judicial review is the rational basis test not the reasonableness standard of the 4th amendment. Reasonable criminal laws are to protect the rights of others from an individual’s activities.
This year, without review, the U.S. Supreme Court is saying that it is rational to search and seize my person, house papers and effects for violating the marijuana laws.
The Bill of Rights was adopted to the Constitution of the United States on December 15, 1791. What happened to 4th and 5th Amendment of the Bill of Rights?
I would have to say “Killed in Action” in the “war on drugs” by those who take an oath to protect them. http://www.counterpunch.or/dee12262008.html
Interesting related 10 minute video: http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/505.html
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
The hearing was to set bond and allow for Rev. Pinkney's release as he appeals a 3-10 year prison sentence for violating his probation for writing an article which was published in the Peoples Tribune. PeoplesTribune.org
Obviously furious and out of control emotionally, Judge Dennis Wiley was like a crazy man with hair standing up. Literally. For people who had traveled from afar, it was a rude shock to hear Judge W announce that the 10am hearing was being postponed until 3pm.
This judge, true to reputation, was anything but objective, and openly displayed a lot of anger. The ACLU's win in court, resulting in the release of Pinkney, is the last thing Berrien County power players want. Judge W didn't want to hear the case, said he didn't have time for rebuttal, and tried to persuade prosecutor Vigansky who he seemed at odds with to postpone the hearing. He eventually decided to hear the case. Vigansky appeared to care about how he conducted himself, Wiley did not and behaved like a drunken sailor. He threw two people out of the courtroom for slight chuckles, shouting to "get out!"
Rev. Pinkney, appearing on closed circuit TV from Jackson prison, was represented by two ACLU attorneys, both present in the courtroom. It was obvious from their astonished expressions that they may never have been subjected to this type of "legal proceeding" in their careers. Berrien County refused to bring Pinkney to the courtroom citing bad weather.
Judge W granted Pinkney a ten-thousand dollar cash surety bond -- more than had been sought by either Pinkney or the prosecutor. "I could have set $150,000.00!," threatened Judge W.
Despite last week's one and only order by the Court of Appeals for Judge W to set the bail amount, he set a long list of (outrageous) conditions to Pinkney's bond release:
no cell phone, no pager, no speaking engagements, no preaching in church, may engage in no defamatory or harassing behavior - including through the use of print or electronic media, no election activity, must wear a GPS tether and be under 24-hour curfew, may not go near Judge Butzbaugh, may not use a credit card ("you may as well cut up your credit card"). Also, Pinkney must keep away from the Berrien County Courthouse until his day in court on the appeal. Pinkney is known for his court observer activism. Attorney Michael Steinberg said the restrictions are excessive, and some are unconstitutional.
Get the feeling they are just a little afraid of this reverend?
From WSJM: Pinkney Granted Bond With Strict Conditions
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Having family and friends in prison teaches you a lot about what things are like from "the inside." MWRO's comrade and Benton Harbor political prisoner, Rev. Edward Pinkney, has been moved around to at least half a dozen Michigan prisons since he was sentenced a few months ago for quoting the Bible. Doing time is a difficult experience for all involved and the guilty should be punished. But punishment should be fair and not exploit an already marginalized group.
In Michigan, incarcerated men and women in many prisons work for Michigan State Industries (MSI)--a 1980 Dept of Corrections program that assigns jobs to all able-bodied prisoners. Fundamentally, MSI goals sound like a good idea, i.e., they provide "an opportunity for prisoners to learn marketable skills and to acquire sound work experience" while attempting "to address the problem of crime and the tension and idleness in prison resulting from overcrowding...." MSI has a map of all prison production locations where they sell and bid out items such as furniture, bed sheets, and outdoor banners online or through its Lansing showroom.
However, Rev. Pinkney's experience has given him and us some insights into prison conditions and prison work. Last week he wrote:
"Prison officials can control virtually every aspect of a prisoner's life. They can decide her/his actions - when (s)he will awake and when (s)he sleeps, how much is spent on food, who can visit prisoners and for how long, whether to force a prisoner to sleep on a metal grating without a mattress, how long a prisoner waits for medical treatment, whether a prisoner spends 24 hours a day in a cell or 12 hours a day at back-breaking labor, and what arbitrary (useless) rules will be followed. How and when to punish prisoners in many different ways, including depriving them of all food except "nutri-loaf" (tasteless ground-up leftovers pressed into a loaf). It is all up to the Dept. of Corrections.
In many states there is a move to remove gov. administration of prisons and privatize them for corporate profit. The labor of the prisoners belongs to the state but when the state transfers their interest to a private corporation, the labor of prisoners belong to the corporation. A corporation will run the lives of prisoners and decide how they shall labor and what they shall labor at. Do you see chances for profit here?"
Prison labor is not new. It's been used for centuries to help contain incarceration costs and keep prisoners disciplined and busy. But in recent times, it's being increasingly used in for profit ventures. MWRO opposes the slave labor practice of requiring incarcerated human beings to make or build products for the highest bidder. Not only do these conditions prevent a worker from demanding a fair price for his or her labor, it contributes to abusive and inhumane conditions beyond typical institutional incarceration.
(Image courtesy of Flickr)
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
America will never be the land of democracy and equal justice as long as the power of money places corporations above the law, or, in Rev. Pinkney's case, allows the corporate class to cause the incarceration of a civil rights leader.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Continuing to attend meetings, I would hear about police killings occurring weekly and decided to keep track of these deaths. I began my own newspaper research and compiled the results. When I could, I contacted family members for their version of events. I have yet to come across an eyewitness account which corroborates the police version of events."
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Undoing the Bush-Cheney Legacy: A Tool Kit for Congress & Activists, edited by Ann Fagan Ginger (Meiklejohn Civil Liberties, Berkeley, California, 2008) Compiled by a veteran constitutional and human rights attorney, through this paperback (see mcli.org) Ann Ginger cites specifically the legislation, regulations, executive orders and presidential signing statements that violate our constitution, treaties and other basic laws. She urges an omnibus "Restore Democracy Act" in 2009 to repeal the official illegalities of the Bush regime.
The Power of the Peddler by Jeno F. Paulucci with Les Rich and James Tills (Paulucci International, 2005). Jeno is a quite different kind of peddler--creating more companies challenging giant corporations into his nineties than you can count, supporting and insisting on labor unions in his factories, defiantly defending the peoples right to "sue the bastards." This generous man even printed blurbs on his book jacket from detractors.
For stimulating reflection try: A Year With Emerson edited by Richard Grossman (David R. Godine, 2005). Long-time Ralph Waldo Emerson scholar, Grossman selects a thought, musing or observation by Emerson for each day of the year--all 365 of them. What a way to start or end a day for a man who took time to think and urge us toward self-reliance.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
"We are thrilled that Rev. Edward Pinkney will be home with his family celebrating Christmas instead of sitting in prison for criticizing a judge," said Michigan ACLU Legal Director Michael J. Steinberg. "The court properly recognized that serious constitutional questions are raised when a minister is thrown in prison for predicting what God might do."
Rev. Pinkney is a Baptist minister in Benton Harbor, a predominantly African American community with a troubled relationship with its predominantly white sister city, St. Joseph. Rev. Pinkney has long been an outspoken community activist and advocate, frequently denouncing injustice and racial inequality in Benton Harbor, its local government, and the Berrien County criminal justice system in particular.
In 2007, Rev. Pinkney was sentenced to probation for violating Michigan election law. But his probation was revoked and he was resentenced to 3-10 years in prison solely because of an article he wrote for a small Chicago newspaper. Quoting a passage from the Bible, Rev. Pinkney predicted that God would "curse" the judge unless he "hearken[ed] unto the voice of the Lord thy God to observe [and] to do all that is right." Rev. Pinkney also expressed his opinion in the article that the judge was racist, dumb, and corrupt.
The ACLU argued in its motion for bond pending appeal that the statements Rev. Pinkney made in his newspaper editorial, while offensive to many, are clearly protected speech under the First Amendment. The ACLU further urged the Court of Appeals to release Rev. Pinkney on bond while it considers the appeal of his sentence.
In an order issued yesterday, the Court of Appeals granted the ACLU motion and has asked the Berrien County Circuit Court to set the amount of bond. A date has not been set yet for a hearing to determine the bond amount, however, the ACLU will ask for the earliest date possible. The Court of Appeals is expected to decide the merits of Rev. Pinkney's appeal in 2009.
In addition to Steinberg, Rev. Pinkney is represented by ACLU Cooperating Attorneys James J. Walsh and Rebecca O'Reilly of the respected corporate law firm Bodman LLP.
To read the Court of Appeals order, go to: http://www.aclumich.org/pdf/pinkneybondbrief.pdf.
To read the ACLU Brief in Support of Bond Pending Appeal, go to http://www.aclumich.org/pdf/pinkneybondbrief.pdf
To read Rev. Pinkney's article, go to http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2007.11/PT.2007.11.18.html
CONTACT: Michael J. Steinberg, ACLU of Michigan Legal Director at 313.578.6814
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Most of the comments after the article are propaganda, obviously posted by Whirlpool/Harbor Shores ruling elite. But here's one grounded in reality, containing some chilling facts:
"I am a life long resident of Benton Harbor for 36 years. A golf course is not going to help our community. It will destroy it. As real estate profits surge and code enforments compliance will make it impossible for the existing people to live in our community.
You all say it's good for Benton Harbor but all the profit making businesses are being built in St Joe and Benton Twp.
What about the jobs that Harbor Shores was to provide for Benton Harbor? The entire project was already reviewed by Judge Schofiled along with the other Berrien County Judges prior to the presenting to the City Government.
He has a vested interest in this project which should make him ineligible to make any decisions on how to proceed.
The Friends of Jean Klock are on point. The Golf Club is not going to allow any and everyone who is a citizen of Benton Harbor to be a member; it will be handled just like the Republicans Economic Club, and Rotary Clubs.
One will need to have a certain status to be a member and it will only be by recommendation.
The plan for the layout is eliminating the parking to a bare minimum and making renovations to have walk ways to the beach from the City of St Joesph. How is that a benefit to us?
Harbor Shores states that it will not build business on BH land due to soil. WTH! Then let's take time to get the soil treated and put the businesses there that will employ residents and give our community a better lifestyle.
Harbor Shores is using BH because most of the land is located in a Renaissance Zone and will not pay taxes to the cities. So all of the 200 to 600 homes will be tax free.
Our Mayor, City Manager and Commissioners better wake up or this will be their last tenure in the seats they are in.
Change is what we need but hidden agendas to benefit those who are already financially stable is not!
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Two ways you can make your support known: 1. Call the governor's office, 517-335-7858
and state your support for clemency for Rev. Pinkney. 2. Contact the Executive Clemency Advisory Council members by writing to them in care of the governor, or use contact info. below.
Council Contact Info. -
Dr. Charles G. Adams of Detroit, pastor of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, 19472 Suffolk Dr., Highland Park, MI 48203, 313-368-0210, appointed to represent the general public.
Ms. Gloria L. Baker of Roseville, accountant with Urban Science, 200 Renaissance Ctr. #18100, Detroit, MI 48243,
313-259-9900, appointed to represent crime victims or their families.
Ms. Joyce M. Braithwaite-Brickley of Traverse City, retired, appointed to represent the general public.
Info. not located.
Ms. Mary Beth Kur, private practice: 523 Mitchell St., Petoskey, MI 49770, email@example.com, 877-746-4625, former Charlevoix County prosecutor, appointed to represent law enforcement.
Rabbi David A. Nelson, Beth Shalom, 14601 W. Lincoln Rd., Oak Park, MI 48237, firstname.lastname@example.org,
248-547-7970, of Southfield, appointed to represent the general public.
Ms. Janette L. Price of Eaton Rapids, former warden for the Michigan Department of Corrections, now retired, appointed to represent the general public. Info. not located.
The Honorable Rudolph A. Serra, private practice: 18953 Mallina St., Grosse Pointe, MI 48236, 313-331-7839, former judge of the 36th District Court, appointed to represent law enforcement and designated chair of the council for a term expiring at the pleasure of the governor.
Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, P.O. Box 30013, Lansing, Michigan 48909 517-335-7858
Monday, December 08, 2008
Sunday, December 07, 2008
An anonymous poet (1700's) on crime: "The law will punish a man or woman who steals the goose from the hillside, but lets the greater robber loose who steals the hillside from the goose."
From 3/12/93 Wall Street Journal article, "Common Criminals--Just About Everyone Violates Some Laws, Even Model Citizens" byline by Stephen J. Adler/Wade Lambert stated: We are a nation of lawbreakers. We exaggerate tax-deductible expenses, lie to customs officials, bet on card games and sports events, disregard jury notices, drive while intoxicated--and hire illegal childcare workers. [not to mention convict and incarcerate innocent people or steal lakefront property from residents of a city]
Crime is big Business
...political decisions of bankers are about who will be poor. Corporate decisions in '50s to remove industry from communities of color were about who would be unemployed. Decisions by developers/bankers about redevelopment (redlining & gentrification) are about who will be homeless.
In 1984 American Catholic bishops called poverty in America a "social and moral scandal that must not be ignored," "works of charity cannot and should not have to substitute for humane public policy. The Physicians Task Force on Hunger in America reported on a 2-year national study: despite 58 months of economic expansion, hunger became more widespread(affecting some 20 million Americans), largely because of "governmental failure."
Hunger/homelessness are deliberately imposed socioeconomic conditions...rich get richer, while the poor get prison and early death...board rooms/White House are social policy makers who increase social repression by building more prisons, creating harsher legal sanctions (i.e., 52 death penalty laws, three strikes you're out), and becoming ever more heedless to the social implications of poverty as an impetus to committing crime.
...crime pays. The U. S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics announced on 7/15/90: federal, state & local gov. spent $61 billion for civil and criminal justice in ‘88, a 34% increase since ‘85.
Annually, laws are changed to ensure profitability in the crime industry. Social conditions serve to maintain levels of poverty and feed the industry of crime.
Friday, December 05, 2008
Paredes Faces Parole Board
Ex-Store Clerk Testifies in Murder Trial
Berrien Drug Treatment Programs Get Boost [let's wait to see where the money ends up]
Judge: Stabbing Case Evidence Strong
Trial Begins in Slaying of Mobil Clerk
Suspect Risks Life Cold Chase
Three Sought in Pot-Growing Case
Are jobs deliberately removed from this county so the crime business can expand to proportions unknown in almost any other midwest counties with similar sized populations?
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Last Tuesday, 11/25/08, he was moved to Jackson. On Monday, 12/1/08, he called his wife to tell her he was being moved to Muskegon. Today we learned he is in Kingsley, Michigan, at Pugsley Correctional Facility.
Just because you move a 'truth speaker' doesn't mean you'll stop the truth! Then again, it does make it easier for this courageous leader to share his story and build up the people's army on the government's dime.
Continue signing the online petition to free Rev. Pinkney, and send your letter requesting clemency to Gov. Granholm.
(Image courtesy People's Tribune/DaymonJHartley.com)
1. certain people in the county are wrecking the land and peoples' lives, so set up a business in Benton Harbor! and, 2. live in fear: our law enforcement & court system are out to get you. These "certain people"/Whirlpool need to keep Rev. Pinkney locked away. As the most vocal resident whistleblowing about all of this, it is essential that Rev. Pinkney remains behind bars to prevent him from hampering "business as usual" in Berrien County.
Lining up for Harbor Shores
Don Campbell H-P - Parcel 4 of the Harbor Shores development is pictured Thursday. The 8.3 acres will host holes 3, 4 and 5 of the Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course that anchors the development. Developers say they have taken 115 deposits for house lots in the project.
115 people put down money for residences in new development
Sun. Nov. 30, 08
Benton Harbor - Potential homebuyers and developers are lining up to get a piece of Harbor Shores, the 530-acre residential and resort development being built around a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course in Benton Harbor, Benton Township and St. Joseph.
Kerry Wright, the development's property specialist, said 115 people have put down $1,000 deposits for residences in Harbor Shores. The deposit essentially reserves their place in line, so they will have priority to buy the lot or home they want when building plans are finalized.
More than a quarter of those reservations are from people who do not already live in the Twin Cities area, a news release said.
Mark Hesemann, managing director of Evergreen Development, said 115 deposits is a remarkable number considering the current economic environment. He said some golf and residential communities under development in other parts of the country are not receiving any reservations. (con't. at link above)
Don Campbell H-P http://www.heraldpalladium.com/articles/2008/12/02/local_news/82644.txt
The Kitchen Mart building along Main Street is one of the buildings targeted for development in downtown Benton Harbor. Although it had fallen into disrepair, developers plan to revive the structure as retail space and apartments.
Much has been done, but unsightly buildings remain
Kevin Allen, Mon., Dec. 1, 08
BENTON HARBOR - Several old, neglected buildings in downtown Benton Harbor have been renovated into useful, attractive places for living, working and entertaining in recent years. But, despite all the progress, eyesores still abound, from abandoned gas stations to vacant buildings with crumbling facades.
Several investors have put time and money into helping the downtown rise again, and they want the city to take action against owners of derelict buildings that they say are hurting their efforts. "The lack of activity by individuals, either speculating on buildings or holding off for significant amounts of money more than the buildings are worth in today's market, are greatly impeding the momentum of the redevelopment effort in downtown Benton Harbor," said Tony McGhee, vice president of physical development and business attraction for Cornerstone Alliance. (con't. at link above)
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Pinkney is a well known political figure in Benton Harbor, one of Michigan’s poorest and most racially segregated towns. He has been a prominent critic of the county’s criminal justice system and of efforts by the locally based Whirlpool corporation to build a golf course on the town’s lakefront park.
In May 2007 Pinkney was sentenced to a term of probation by Berrien County Chief Judge Alfred Butzbaugh following his conviction of election law violations in connection with a campaign to recall one of Benton Harbor’s most prominent politicians. Continue reading:
Rev. Pinkney has received much attention in recent weeks--at the frustration of prison officials--due to: media attention on his Green Party candidacy (BTW he received 3500 votes!), the recent press ban by prison authorities against interviews, the ACLU motion filing with the Michigan Court of Appeals, and the on-going clemency letter drive and online petition.
We're hopeful that this latest move to a facility closer to Benton Harbor means that he is on track for a decision by the courts. In the meantime, please continue to send letters for clemency to Gov. Granholm. According to Attorney Buck Davis, Rev. Pinkney's clemency petition has been transferred from the corrections dept committee to the Governor's office. She can decide whether or not to hold public hearings for clemency. Please push the Gov. Granholm to hold a hearing for Rev. Pinkney!
Please send your letters of clemency to:
Honorable Jennifer Granholm
Michigan Department of Corrections
Office of the Parole Board
Pardons and Commutations Coordinator
P.O. Box 30003
Lansing, Michigan, 48909
Include your name and address.
Read more about the ACLU Michigan motion and brief. Listen to Atty Davis, Mrs Pinkney, and BANCO member Belinda Brown speak about Rev. Pinkney and Benton Harbor on KPFK Pacifica Radio in SoCal.
(For the KPFK interview, go to show "Sojourner Truth with Margaret Prescod," Tuesday, 11/25/08. After the introduction, Davis begins at 5:30 min, Mrs. Pinkney at 22:00 min, and Brown at 38:30 min)
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Shirley Stinson, Benton Harbor
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Metro officers hurt during training sue company, say warnings didn’t suffice
by Abigail Goldman
Several cops got on their knees on a rubber gym mat. Kneeling in a line, they linked arms, interlaced hands, and looked up. All they knew of what comes next is this: It's going to smart.
This was called the "daisy chain." It was part of the Metro Police Taser training program, the alternative to hitting a single individual with thousands of volts from the weapon. It was the option officer Lisa Peterson chose, a decision she regrets.
The officers were at a training seminar in November 2003 to learn how to use the newest weapon on their belts, a device the manufacturer claimed would incapacitate a person but not do permanent harm. You can't really comprehend the Taser, students were told, until you're Tasered.
So an instructor attached alligator clips to each end of the daisy chain. Two officers became electrical bookends, strung at the shoulder by wires feeding back into a Taser gun. Pull the trigger and the daisy chain shudders, seizes and pitches forward, the pile of police officers becoming a portrait of Taser's selling point: neuromuscular incapacitation. Full article:
Sat., Nov. 22, 2008
BENTON HARBOR - Police arrested one person and are seeking warrants for the arrest of two others after raids on an apartment and a house in the city Thursday and Friday.
The Berrien County Sheriff's Department Narcotics Unit, with help from county road patrol and Benton Harbor police, raided 922 Buss Ave., Apt. 1, around 8:15 a.m. Friday and arrested Ezia Terrance Brown, 28, for investigation on charges of possession of marijuana and maintaining a drug house, both second offenses. He also has warrants for a traffic offense and driving on a suspended license, police said.
According to a sheriff's department news release, the apartment was searched on a warrant that resulted from a monthlong investigation into alleged drug sales from the residence. Police seized suspected marijuana and $128 under civil forfeiture law and arrested Brown. A 26-year-old woman at the house was not charged, and two children were turned over to a family member.
In another case, police are seeking arrest warrants against a 36-year-old woman and 31-year-old man after a raid on 563 McAllister St. at 5:15 p.m. Thursday.
Acting on a search warrant that resulted from a weeklong investigation, police seized about $200 worth of suspected marijuana and other evidence of drug trafficking, along with $446 cash.
Three adults at the house at the time of the search were released, and two juveniles were turned over to family members, police said.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Does it concern people that, if found guilty of embezzlement, Michiana village official Mary Jo Nallenweg may be sent to prison for 10 years at a cost to taxpayers of over $300,000? Why the eagerness to confine her in our overcrowded prisons when the loss so far has been estimated at less than $10,000? Does this make sense to you? Who would benefit from that? At the current expense of over $30,000 a year per prisoner, our prison system is bankrupting our state.
If she is found to be guilty, do we really want to subject this young woman to a system which cannot prevent the abuse and neglect of its inmates? Or would we rather have her apologize to her victims and make generous restitution, followed by years of community service to atone for her mistakes? The notion that prisoners are “paying their debt to society” overlooks the basic fact that it costs the rest of us more to lock them up than we spend on the education of children in Michigan. When restorative justice has been tried, it has been more effective in preventing future offenses, as well as having been a humane and financially sound method of correction.
The European Union scoffs at how our country wastes tax money on imprisoning more citizens per capita than any other civilized nation in the world. EU nations have agreed that it is neither necessary nor productive to imprison offenders who don’t pose a threat to society. In other nations, a prison sentence is considered to be a last resort, not the first option a prosecutor would announce even before a conviction. The time has come for taxpayers to let our prosecutors and legislators know that we want restitution for the victims of crime, not a huge bill for unnecessary incarceration. It’s time to give non-violent offenders opportunities to make up for their misdeeds, rather than to charge taxpayers with the enormous expense of locking them up for years.
Send a letter to Art Cotter, Berrien County prosecutor, to ask him to find a better way to spend our money – on crime prevention, restitution for the victims and on our children’s education. Let your voice be heard!
Joyce Gouwens St. Joseph
Sentencings (HP, 11/16/08) Berrien county Trial court St. Joseph SenTenceS
**********, 21, ++++++++t, Benton Harbor, 270 days in jail and $860 for larceny from a person, stealing a purse from ******* on Oct. 23, 2006, at ++++++++++, Benton Town ship.
******* was sentenced to a concurrent, 180-day jail term and assessed $120 for larceny from a vehicle, stealing a stereo from a vehi cle owned by ******** on Sept. 17 at +++++++, Benton Town ship.
***********, 18, ++++++++, Coloma, 90 days in jail, 60 days tether, 2 1/2 years pro bation and $2,320 for larceny from a person, stealing a bicycle from ************ on Sept. 21 at ++++++++, Watervliet.
Fleeing or resisting police
**********, 26, +++++++++, Benton Harbor, 16 months to 15 years in prison for resisting and obstructing Benton Harbor Officer Wesley Smigielski on July 13 at +++++++++, Benton Harbor.
*********s, 42, ++++++++, Benton Harbor, 150 days in jail and $1,620 for resisting and obstructing Berrien County Sheriff’s Deputy Carol Vaughn on Sept. 19 at +++++++++ in St. Joseph.
********, 41, ++++++++, Three Oaks, 47 days in jail (credit for 47 days already served), 45 days tether, 18 months probation, $2,621 restitution, and $1,920 fine and costs for receiving and concealing property valued at $1,000 to $20,000 (welding equip ment) on Sept. 23 at +++++++++, Lake Township.
*********, 36, ++++++++, Benton Harbor, 30 days in jail, 90 days tether, two years probation, $2,160 and 480 hours of community service for third-offense operating a vehicle while under the influence of liquor Sept. 25 in Benton Harbor.
niles criminal sexual conduct
*********, 66, ***********, Niles, 38 months to 10 years in prison for two counts of assault with intent to commit sexual penetration with a ++++++++++ in Niles.
***********, 49, ++++++++, Niles, 5 1/2-20 years in prison for assault with intent to murder state Trooper Duane Shears with a shotgun Oct. 3, 2007, at ++++++s’ residence.
Fleeing or resisting police
**********, 25, ++++++++, Niles, 56 days in jail (credit for 56 days already served) and $120 for fourth-degree fleeing and eluding Berrien County Sheriff’s Deputy Amber Sriver on April 19, 2007, on +++++++++, Niles Township.
**********, 22, +++++++++, Niles, 67 days in jail and $155 for resisting and obstructing Buchanan Officer Michael Troup, and assault and battery on ********** on May 4 at +++++++++, Buchanan.
********, 36, ++++++++++, Berrien Springs, 180 days in jail, 180 days tether, five years pro bation and $2,420 for attempted use of a computer in his home to solicit a girl for sex on March 20.
**********, 39, ++++++++, Niles, 18 months probation and $1,900 for attempted larceny in a building, stealing electronic equip ment April 14 at +++++++++.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Once again the corruption in the Berrien County “legal” system rears its ugly head, in the state that pretended to be so sanctimonious about human life that it imprisoned Dr. Jack Kevorkian for ending the suffering of the terminally ill, and where a judge in Berrien County once joked about the terminal illness of the late Maurice Carter, a man many believed was wrongfully imprisoned.
Then there’s the case of Floyd Caldwell. The judge who sentenced Caldwell to a double-life sentence had refused to recuse himself from the case even though he was friends with the accusers. Yet when one of these accusers became a defendant in this same judge’s courtroom, after being involved in a traffic fatality that killed a little girl, suddenly he developed the “integrity” to recuse himself. Now there is the case the Rev. Edward Pinkney, who was recently sent to prison for wishing eternal damnation on a Berrien County judge. The hypocrisy and danger of this action is so transparent it defies logic. Clearly there are people who attain power who do not deserve it, and who misuse or abuse the authority they have been given. If one cannot criticize them, then how can the public be informed? Also, nature has decreed that all power vested in humans is limited by their own mortality.
Religious people believe that eventually everyone will face the ultimate judge. Whether this is simply a vain hope that evildoers will not triumph, I do not know. But I know this: If the judge Pinkney criticized acted correctly, then a just God would not condemn him regardless of Pinkney’s words, and if he acted unfairly, then all the censorship in the world would not redeem him. To imprison Pinkney on the idiotic notion he can somehow influence God’s judgment should be recognized for what it is – blatant contempt for the fundamental right to freedom of speech, a right that apparently doesn’t exist in Berrien County.
David R. Hoffman Mishawaka
Friday, November 14, 2008
Try googling: Michigan pastor says free speech violated - and be amazed!
Comment posted at the end of the article on ABC website WZZM 13:
"This situation is a total travesty. The land should never have been sold for a golf course, the Klock Family Park donated for the enjoyment of the residents of Benton Harbor residents in perpetuity has been stolen from the people and sold for the greed of the developers.
The article fails to mention that this conviction was only after the 1st trial with a mixed race jury failed to convict and the prosecutor retried it with an all white jury and the court doors were locked to the public during the 2nd trial so outside news coverage to monitor the trial was prevented.
It's corruption here plain and simple and it keeps getting ignored. We need a federal justice department investigation in this whole land grab and the attempts to silence anyone opposing.
I don't live in Benton Harbor I live very close and am a lifetime resident of this county I'm not African American either. Right is right and wrong is wrong.
The 2nd trial was a sham; he shouldn't have been convicted."
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Mr. Michael Curley, Warden
Ojibway Correctional Facility
N5705 Ojibway Road
Marenisco, MI 49947-9771
Re: Reverend Edward Pinkney, # 294671
Dear Warden Curley:
We have received communications that Correctional Officer R. Axley was purportedly directed to shakedown Reverend Pinkney’s cell and control area on November 1, 2008. According to reports, he did so in a destructive and illegal manner, soiling clean clothes, destroying food and reading legal mail. This is the second report that I have received of violation of the prohibition against the reading of legal mail. Axley apparently spent approximately 30 minutes doing so.
I have advised my client to grieve this action. In addition, this is a separate complaint, requesting an investigation. Do you have written records of the order for shakedown and the results? Videotapes? Witnesses? This is to request that you gather and preserve them.
You know by now that Pinkney is the clearest example of a political prisoner within the MDOC. He was attacked by the Berrien County establishment after he successfully recalled the most powerful and corrupt politician in Benton Harbor and convicted by an all white jury, based on the testimony of bribed and intimidated prostitutes, drug dealers and people with pending criminal charges. The case is on appeal.
Then, his probation was violated for quoting the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy regarding the curses that will be visited upon the unjust by God if they do not change their ways. The Court decided that it was a “true threat” outside the parameters of the First Amendment and therefore a violation of probation. He thus became the first preacher in the history of America to be imprisoned for quoting the Bible.
We assume that he was transferred to your institution because of the state and national publicity surrounding his case and the requests for interviews and visits by the press and supporters. Obviously, as the Green Party nominee to oppose Congressman Fred Upton, he has powerful and influential enemies in the state and local governments. The question is whether you will allow your institution to aid and abet this ignoble enterprise.
We have a clemency petition pending before Governor Granholm. We are FOIA’ing all of Pinkney’s MDOC records. We intend to protest and publicize every illegal, retaliatory or vindictive action taken against him.
I suggest that the MDOC does not have a dog in this fight. Pinkney is clearly no threat to anyone, including institutional security. The authorities in Benton Harbor and Berrien County have tried in vain for years to catch him doing anything wrong and they could not even come up with a parking ticket. However easier it might be to run your institution without a sympathetic political prisoner in it, mere inconvenience is no basis for any mistreatment of Pinkney.
By separate letter I am advising Pinkney to grieve and press through the third step every wrongful action taking against him, including opening or reading legal mail. We won on that point while he was in the Berrien County Jail. For your information, Pinkney has the following attorneys:
His trial and appellate counsel:
Hugh M. Davis
Constitutional Litigation Associates, P.C.
450 W. Fort Street Suite 200
Detroit, Michigan 48226
Elliott S. Hall
Dykema Gossett, P.L.L.C.
400 Renaissance Center
Detroit, MI 48243
Timothy M. Holloway
P.O. Box 296
Taylor, MI 48180
His counsel on the probation violation appeal and for bond.
Michael J. Steinberg, Legal Director
Daniel S. Korobkin, Staff Attorney
ACLU of Michigan
2966 Woodward Avenue
Detroit, MI 48201
(313) 578-6814/Fax: (313) 578-6811
James J. Walsh and Rebecca D’Arcy O’Reilly
201 S. Division Street, Suite 400
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
His clemency counsel:
Kelly A. Flint
530 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
(734) 763-9920/Fax: (734) 936-0844
In short, Reverend Pinkney will be receiving numerous communications from various counsel on a regular basis. We understand that it is an unusual situation, but we do not expect his Sixth Amendment right to counsel to be interfered with in any way, particularly including opening and reading of mail to and from Pinkney.
Thank you for your attention to this.
Hugh M. Davis
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 12, 2008
CONTACT: Michael J. Steinberg, ACLU of Michigan Legal Director at 313.578.6814
DETROIT– The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan has agreed to represent a Benton Harbor minister who was sentenced to 3-10 years in prison for writing a newspaper article that criticized the judge who presided over his trial. Today the ACLU filed a motion asking the Michigan Court of Appeals to release him on bond pending a decision in the appeal of the sentence.
“In a democracy the government cannot simply throw citizens in prison for criticizing public officials – even if the criticism is offensive and even if the public official is a judge,” said Michigan ACLU Legal Director Michael J. Steinberg. “To our knowledge, this case marks the first time in modern history that a preacher has been imprisoned for predicting what God might do.”
Rev. Edward Pinkney is a Baptist minister in Benton Harbor, a predominantly African American community with a troubled relationship with its predominantly white sister city, St. Joseph. Rev. Pinkney has long been an outspoken community activist and advocate, frequently denouncing injustice and racial inequality in Benton Harbor, its local government, and the Berrien County criminal justice system in particular.
In 2007, Rev. Pinkney was sentenced to probation for violating Michigan election law. But his probation was revoked and he was resentenced to 3-10 years in prison solely because of an article he wrote for a small Chicago newspaper. Quoting a passage from the Bible, Rev. Pinkney predicted that God would “curse” the judge unless he "hearken[ed] unto the voice of the Lord thy God to observe [and] to do all that is right." Rev. Pinkney also expressed his opinion in the article that the judge was racist, dumb, and corrupt.
In the brief filed today, the ACLU argues that the statements Rev. Pinkney made in his newspaper editorial, while offensive to many, are clearly protected speech under the First Amendment. The ACLU further urged the Court of Appeals to release Rev. Pinkney on bond while it considers the appeal of his sentence. The minister is currently incarcerated at the Ojibway Correctional Facility in the Upper Pennisula, nearly 500 miles from Benton Harbor.
In addition to Steinberg, Rev. Pinkney is represented by ACLU Cooperating Attorneys James J. Walsh and Rebecca O’Reilly of the respected corporate law firm Bodman LLP.
To read the ACLU Motion for Bail Pending Appeal, go to http://www.aclumich.org/pdf/pinkneybondmotion.pdf
To read the ACLU Brief in Support of the Motion, go to http://www.aclumich.org/pdf/pinkneybondbrief.pdf
To read Rev. Pinkney’s article, go to http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2007.11/PT.2007.11.18.html.
Rana Elmir, Communications Director
ACLU of Michigan
2966 Woodward Ave
Detroit, MI 48201
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
By GLEN FORD
The demise or ill health of U.S. investment banks has deprived finance capital of its headquarters sector, the evil geniuses who hatch long range schemes for ethnic cleansing of the nation's cities. Now, more than ever, progressives must become city planners, and in the process of devising these plans forge unity among the various contesting communities that comprise the city. Community empowerment begins with community planning. The void left by finance capital's catastrophe demands that the Left - most particularly, the Black, urban left - make sense of the chaos and stench left by wounded and dying corporate elephants.
The breathtaking statistics on paper wealth suddenly extinguished and once mighty bastions of capital laid low, do not begin to describe the economic meltdown's effect on finance capital's ability to rule the rest of us. It is not merely that giants such as Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns and others have been swept into the historical dustbin, as if by a righteous, wrathful storm. The demise of investment banking as a central tool of capitalist planning means the rich have at least temporarily lost the ability to remake the cities as they see fit. While some gentrification projects are on hold, due to the death or ill health of the investment bankers at the heart of most "Black removal" schemes, tenant and community forces must seize the time to devise their own plans for rational ways of living in post-meltdown urban America.
--full article: counterpunch.org, 10/30/08
Scholars consider it to be the most ancient writing we know
of which was the starting point of the world's major religions.
From Chapter 29, translated by Ursula K. Le Guin:
"Those who think to win the world
by doing something to it,
I see them come to grief.
For the world is a sacred object.
Nothing is to be done to it.
To do anything to it is to damage it.
To seize it is to lose it."
Sunday, November 09, 2008
--sentencings, Berrien county, st. Joseph, druG courT sentences (HP, 11/8/08)
**********, 29, +++++++++ Avenue, Benton Township, 1-10 years in prison for possession of the controlled drug MDMA, known as ecstasy, June 25 at ++++++++ Ave., Benton Harbor.
**********, 24, ++++++ Avenue, Benton Harbor, 1-20 years in prison for possession with intent to deliver less than 50 grams of cocaine Sept. 23 at ++++ and ++++++ streets, Benton Harbor. ************, 31, Plymouth, Ind., 1-10 years in prison for possession of methamphetamine Sept. 23 at the Berrien County jail in St. Joseph.
**********, 22, South Bend, Ind., 180 days in jail and $120 for possession with intent to deliver less than 50 grams of cocaine Sept. 18 at +++++++ St., Niles Township.
*********, 16, +++++++ Road, Benton Township, 64 days in jail (credit for 64 days already served), two years probation and $1,960 for possession with intent to deliver an imitation controlled drug June 7 on +++++++ Court, Benton Harbor.
***********, 31, +++++++ Street, Benton Harbor, 45 days in jail for marijuana possession July 11 on ++++++++.
--Berrien county Trial court, st. Joseph
assault, **********, 26, ++++++++, Benton Township, 2-4 years in prison for assault with a dangerous weapon (knife) on Demetrious Simpson on Sept. 20 on +++++++++, Benton Township.
********, 23, ++++++++, Benton Township, 60 days in jail, 18 months probation and $300 for assault with a dangerous weapon (knife) on ********* on Sept. 1 at +++++++++ Ave., Benton Township.
*********, 27, +++++++Road, Benton Township, three days in jail (credit for three days already served), 18 months probation, $1,620 and 30 hours of community service for attempted assault with a dangerous weapon (broom handle) on ********** on July 26 at ++++++++, Benton Township.
criminal sexual conduct
***********, 28, ++++++++, Berrien Springs, 15-30 years in prison for first-degree criminal sexual conduct, second offense (penetration), with a 10-year-old boy over a period of time in 2003 and 2004 in +++++++++++++.
***********, 36, +++++++++, +++++++++, 1-10 years in prison for assault with intent to commit sexual penetration, reduced from first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a 7-year-old girl from Jan. 1, 2006, through Jan. 1, 2008, in +++++++++++++.
**********, 27, +++++++++, Benton Township, 1 1/2-10 years in prison and $23,003 restitution for breaking and entering Feb. 25 at ++++++++++++++, Benton Township.
*********, 28, ++++++++++, Benton Township, 1-2 1/2 years in prison for attempted third-degree home invasion, breaking and entering Sept. +++++++++, Benton Harbor.
***********, 25, ++++++++, Niles, 150 days in jail, two years probation, $3,600 restitution, and $2,010 fine and costs for third-degree home invasion, breaking and entering May 19 at ++++++++ Ave., Benton Township.
Fleeing or resisting police
************, 27, ++++++ Street, Benton Harbor, 1-2 years in prison for resisting and obstructing state Trooper O.J. Hamilton on Sept. 20 at +++++++++++++, Benton Harbor.
***********, 36, +++++++ Street, Benton Harbor, 180 days in jail and $120 for resisting and obstructing state Trooper O.J. Hamilton on Sept. 18 at ++++++++++, Benton Harbor.
***********, 18, ++++++++++, Benton Harbor, 330 days in jail, two years probation, $2,180 and 320 hours of community service for carrying a concealed weapon (pistol) on his person and in a car May 22 on the ++++++++++++++, Benton Harbor.
************, 25, ++++++++++, St. Joseph Township, 180 days in jail and $120 for carrying a concealed weapon (pistol) on his person Aug. 20 at +++++++++++ Street, St. Joseph Township.
**********, 20, +++++++++++, St. Joseph Township, 150 days in jail (part of sentence may be served in the Kalamazoo Probation Enhancement Program), two years probation and $2,060 for carrying a concealed weapon (pistol) in a car Aug. ++++++++++++++++, Benton Harbor.
************, 31, +++++++++++, Benton Harbor, 45 days in jail, one year probation and $2,240 for carrying a concealed weapon (pistol) on his person Sept. 11 at ++++++++++
***********, 18, +++++++++++, Benton Harbor, 19 days in jail (credit for 19 days already served), 45 days tether, 18 months probation and $2,000 for possession of a loaded rifle in a vehicle Aug. 10 near ++++++++++, Benton Harbor.
receiving stolen property
*********, 46, +++++++++ Street, Benton Harbor, 1-5 years in prison for receiving and concealing stolen property valued at $1,000 to $20,000, ++++++++++++++, Sodus Township.
*********, 24, ++++++++++++, Coloma, 180 days in jail and $1,520 for receiving and concealing stolen property valued at $1,000 to $20,000, brass bars valued at $!2,000 taken June 10 from +++++++++++++++++, Weesaw Township.
**********, 41, ++++++++++++++, Bangor, 16 days in jail (credit for 16 days already served), two years probation, $4,413 restitution, and $1,320 fine and for attempted receiving stolen property $1,000 to $20,000 brass plaques, flower holders and other items taken July 18 from +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Hagar Township.
**********, 37, +++++++++++, Benton Harbor, five days in jail, two years probation, $6,532 restitution, and $2,160 fine and costs for embezzlement by agent or trustee of $1,000 to $20,000, stealing cash and merchandise from July 8 through Aug. 10 from her employer, ++++++++++++++, Benton Township.
***********, 46, +++++++++++, St. Joseph, one year probation, $2,697 restitution, $1,760 fine and costs, and 25 hours of community service for embezzlement by agent or trustee of property valued at $1,000 to $20,000, ++++++++++++++++++, ++++++++, ++++++++ Highway, Benton Township.
**********, 31, Stewart Avenue, Benton Harbor, 30 days in jail, 60 days tether, five years probation, $17,765 restitution, and $2,120 fine and costs for welfare fraud over $500, +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++.
**********, 29, ++++++++, Niles, one day in jail, one year probation, $5,825 restitution, and $1,940 fine and costs for welfare fraud over $500, failing to report information to the state Department of Human Services office in Benton Harbor that would affect the amount of public assistance she received from May 1, 2006, through July 31, 2008.
sex offender registration
***********, 43, ++++++++++, Benton Harbor, 90 days in jail and $120 for violating the state sex offender registration law by failing to report an address change on Sept. 11 in Benton Harbor.
***********, 33, +++++++++++, St. Joseph Township, 120 days in jail and $120 for violating the state sex offender registration law by failing to report an address change June 20 in Benton Harbor.
**********, 17, Chicago, 240 days in jail and $120 for escape from the Berrien County Juvenile Center, Deans Hill Road, Berrien Township, on Sept. 14.
************, 30, +++++++++++, Benton Harbor, 150 days in jail and $1,420 for aggravated stalking, repeatedly harassing and threatening ********** on Aug. 1 in St. Joseph.
**********, 22, +++++++++++++, Benton Township, 120 days in jail and $120 for attempted possession of a Molotov cocktail (explosive device) May 26 at an apartment at++++++++++++, Benton Township.
*********, 25, ++++++++++, St. Joseph, 61 days in jail (credit for 61 days already served), 45 days tether, two years probation, $600 restitution, and $2,060 fine and costs for larceny of a firearm, stealing a pistol owned by *********** on Aug. 5 from an apartment +++++++++++++, St. Joseph.
************, 22, +++++++++++, Bridgman, 50 days in jail, 18 months probation, $247 restitution, and $2,100 fine and costs for identity theft, obtaining personal information about ************* to use in obtaining money with a financial transaction card.
***********, 28, +++++++++++, Coloma, 90 days in jail and $652 for two counts of writing noaccount checks, a check for $64.13 on June 9 and a check for $95.13 on June 10, both at +++++++++++, Benton Township.
**********, 55, +++++++++++++, Niles, 90 days in jail, one year probation and $120 for attempted assault with a dangerous weapon (knife) on ******* on Aug. 13 ++++++++++++ Niles.
***********, 18, Marshall, 51 days in jail (credit for 51 days already served), 90 days tether, two years probation, $2,060 and 100 hours of community service for attempted assault with intent to rob while unarmed, ********** on Aug. 17 at ++++++++++++St., Buchanan.
receiving stolen property
**********, 33, ++++++++++, Berrien Springs, 90 days tether, two years probation and $840 for receiving and concealing stolen property valued at $1,000 to $20,000, possessing various personal property on July 11 that was stolen from five vehicles at +++++++++++++++ Niles Township. She was sentenced to pay to $4,670 in restitution, and $840 fine and costs, for a related offense of inducing a minor to commit a felony
Fleeing or resisting police
**********, 41, ++++++++++++++, Niles, 90 days tether, 18 months probation and $1,900 for third-degree fleeing and eluding Niles Officer Scott Swanson on May 17 on +++++++++++++, Niles.
**********, 34, Greenwood Village, Colo., $1,100 restitution, and $870 fine and costs for attempted larceny in a building, stealing racing paraphernalia from a trailer July 27 at +++++++++++++, Buchanan Township.
***********, 23, ++++++++++++, Berrien Springs, 60 days tether, 18 months probation and $2,450 for uttering and publishing a stolen check for $50 June 20-30 at ++++++++++++++++, Buchanan Township.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Change, Change, Change?
Morning in Obamerica
By ISHMAEL REED counterpunch.org
[excerpts]"What does this promise land look like? This Obamerica? Shortly after Obama is sworn in, the police, instead of subjecting blacks and Hispanics to capricious traffic stops, will only stop them to offer free tickets to the policeman’s ball. Throughout the country, they will address blacks and Hispanics as sir and ma'm. The overcrowding prison problem will end, because all of the blacks and Hispanics who’ve been sent there as a result of prosecutorial and police misconduct,-probably half- will be set free. And all of those police who have murdered unarmed blacks only to be acquitted by all-white juries will be retried. Blacks will have the freedom to shop in department stores without being watched."
"Rush Limbaugh will inaugurate a series called “Great African American Inventors.” Spike Lee will be invited to run Columbia Pictures... The Newspaper Society of America will apologize for the lynchings and civil disturbances caused by an inflammatory media over the last one hundred or so years. A choked up Rupert Murdoch will read the statement on behalf of his colleagues."
"All of the blacks and Hispanics who have been driven out of New York, Oakland,and San Francisco, [& Benton Harbor] as a result of the policies of ethnic cleansing, ...will be invited to return. The banks that aimed toxic mortgage loans to blacks and Hispanics, who would have qualified for conventional loans had they been white, will halt the foreclosure process and renegotiate these loans."
Friday, October 31, 2008
Part of your platform focuses on the prison-industrial complex. Can you explain what that means - many people don't understand that term - and describe its economic and social impact? How you propose changing the current system?
It's based off President Eisenhower's use of the term "military industrial complex." It is the idea of corporations and the state - particularly corporations - controlling how prisons are run and operated. It also includes any aspect of policing. The phrase was coined in the early 1990s when organizers like myself began seeing the connection between private corporations owning and operating prisons and the goods and services produced by prison labor in these prisons. Then Bill Clinton passed the Juvenile Justice Crime Bill, which made young people eligible to be sentenced as adults, expanded mandatory minimum drug laws, allowed 16 year-olds to be on death row, and got rid of the right of the writ of habeas corpus for many people in prison to be able to challenge their sentences. This has created a system where at any given time over 3 in 10 African American men and 1 out of every 8 Latino men are either in prison, on probation, or on parole. In this past year, we surpassed 2 million Americans incarcerated. 1 out of 100 Americans are either in prison, on parole, or on probation. I've been intimately involved in that struggle - fighting against the death penalty, stopping mandatory minimum sentencing, and not imprisoning people for non-violent felonies, particularly drug charges.
This is related to NAFTA and CAFTA - it's all interconnected. Once the borders were opened up for "free trade," when manufacturing industries started leaving in greater numbers during the 1980s and 1990s and corporations started shipping jobs overseas, communities became blighted. There were no jobs. So, as a Senator from New York said, if we build the prisons, they will come. Particularly in upstate New York and parts of rural Ohio, prisons provide some of the biggest job opportunities for communities where people lost manufacturing jobs with good benefits and good wages. Now they are working on incarcerating other human beings. Economically, that impacts the communities from which the incarcerated young men and women come from. For example, many in prison come from urban areas, and the Census doesn't count them where they actually live, but instead counts them where they are incarcerated. That helps those rural communities where prisons are built get more money and funding.
Socially, the impact is devastating for probably the next two generations, at least. Young people of color, young men and increasingly girls, are harassed and brutalized every day. When they go to the bus stop, there are police. When they go to school, there are police, and when they leave school, there are police. When they get back on the subway there are police, and when they get home, there are police. For me and my generation, this is the most devastating thing that has happened to us.
Neither party has even bothered to reference the prison industrial complex, or made the correlation between the people who are incarcerated and these larger issues. Young people of color, particularly working class young people, get caught up in the prison industrial complex, and when they come out they can't get jobs that allow them to live. It was like this even before capitalism began falling down around us.
As for how I would propose changing it, I would completely dismantle it. Rehabilitation is necessary in some cases, but in some cases I think the police need to be restrained. In some communities, young people can go and have fun and not be arrested, but black and Latino kids in their communities - doing the same things that white kids in the suburbs are doing - shouldn't get arrested. Neither should the white kids. There's no tolerance, particularly for young men of color, in this country. I think white police officers, at the end of the day, see black men clearly as the enemy. Police are trained to see a black man as their enemy, not as someone they are there to serve and protect.
Where can people dealing with these situations go? What resources are available to them?
One organization is Critical Resistance, which works to stop the prison industrial complex.....
White Out: The Continuing Significance of Racism (Paperback)
by Ashley W. Doane (Editor), Eduardo Bonilla-Silva (Editor)
Publisher: Routledge, Paperback: 304 pages
Reviews from Amazon.com -
An immensely valuable book. Here you will find vital information and analysis, both of the payoffs racism offers to whites, and of the immense costs racism imposes on the white psyche.
–Howard Winant, author of The World is a Ghetto: Race and Democracy Since World War II
Moving beyond static conceptualizations of whiteness, White Out redirects the focus of whiteness studies and produces an empirical understanding of white identity and the practices it produces.
–David T. Wellman, author of Portraits of White Racism
This wide-ranging and often brilliant collection places the critical study of whiteness right where it belongs--squarely within the larger framework of an analysis of a larger racial system that produces inequality and misery. Of all of the anthologies on whiteness, White Out is far and away the most successful at detailing how and why social structures matter when racial ideologies are made.
–David R. Roediger is the author of Colored White: Transcending The Racial Past
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
California's Prop. 5 Will Save Lives and Money
Alternatives to Incarceration
By MARGARET DOOLEY-SAMMULI, Counterpunch.org
Saving Land Lowers Taxes
From www.savejeanklockpark.org -
There are 27 golf courses within a 30 mile radius of Benton Harbor, some are exclusive, some are not. Some have closed to become residential properties and some are struggling to keep the courses open. Jack Nicklaus Signature golf courses also fail and that is a huge concern. There is no guarantee that this course will succeed and it’s the opinion of many that it will not. Not in this area. To use Jean Klock Park on speculation that the course will survive is not only risky but highly irresponsible. Jean Klock Park should not be sacrificed for other’s lack of vision. Instead it should serve as its own centerpiece as an historical and natural resource.
Friends of Jean Klock Park are joined by the Alliance for the Great Lakes and local citizens and organizations in their effort to preserve the natural heritage of the park.
We are also part of the Defense of Place Michigan coalition of park advocacy groups. For more information about why parks are for future generations please visit www.defenseofplace.org.
Thanks to the sponsorship and support of the Michigan Environmental Council the Friends of Jean Klock Park were awarded a grant from the Great Lakes Aquatic Network Fund (now Freshwater Future) for various expenses.
The efforts of others in the cause to "Save Jean Klock Park" are expanding!
Please visit www.protectjkp.com.
Wall Street Journal excerpt on golf courses:
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
A note or letter can be as simple as, "I support clemency for Rev. Edward Pinkney."
Sign your name address.
Send letters to:
Honorable Jennifer Granholm
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, Michigan, 48909
Please contribute to Rev. Pinkney's Legal Defense Fund for the ACLU's appeal case.
Send donations to:
Reverend Edward Pinkney Defense Fund
1940 Union Street
Benton Harbor, Michigan, 49022
See 10 Reasons to Donate $10 to the Rev. Pinkney Defense Fund
Excerpt from the Detroit Metro Times story on clemency in Michigan (8/22/07):
"In Michigan, any prisoner may apply for a pardon or commutation of sentence to the state's Parole Board, which reviews the applications and makes recommendations to the governor. Public hearings must be held before the board makes a recommendation for executive clemency. Victims, their families or other interested persons who have told the Department of Corrections Office of Crime Victim Services they want information about prisoners — including notification of parole hearings — will receive updates.
If the governor grants a commutation, the prisoner's sentence is reduced to the number of years served and the prisoner goes on parole. If the governor pardons someone, the sentence is effectively voided and the prisoner is freed.
A pardon implies society's forgiveness. A commutation says justice is not served by keeping the prisoner locked up.
Overall, prisoners' requests for clemency from Michigan's governors have had varying success with the last three administrations even as the prison population has grown and pressures to control costs have increased. Granholm, a Democrat in the first year of her second term, has granted 12 commutations and one pardon...In nearly five years in office, Granholm has granted a dozen, all for medical reasons...."
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Reverend Edward Pinkney is an activist from Benton Harbor who for years has spoken out against discrimination against African Americans in Berrien County courts. Recently, Rev. Pinkney was charged with election law violations and convicted by an all white jury. While on probation pending a motion for a new trial, he wrote an article for a small Chicago newspaper about his case in which he severely criticized the judge who presided over the case. Paraphrasing the Bible, Rev. Pinkney predicted in the article that God would bring harm upon the judge and his family if he did not do the right thing. Based solely on the newspaper article, the judge found that Rev. Pinkney violated the terms of his probation and another judge sentenced him to 3-10 years in prison. The ACLU is representing Rev. Pinkney on the appeal. We will argue that a judge cannot punish a person for writing an article critical of the court and that Rev. Pinkney's prediction of what God might do to a judge cannot be construed as a "true threat." People v. Pinkney.
American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan,
Fall '08 Newsletter, page 4
(Click on Print Materials and then Newsletters or download PDF)
Friday, October 24, 2008
Michigan Minister Runs for Congress From Prison
(excerpt)...Pinkney says he’s being harassed for his outspoken opposition to an upscale, 530-acre residential and commercial development in southwestern Michigan. Pinkney is upset that Benton Harbor city leaders are allowing the developers to use 22 acres of a city park that borders Lake Michigan for three holes of a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course that is the heart of the project.
Pinkney decided to run for Congress to bring attention to his situation and “stand up for what is right.”
“The only way that we can get the word out and bring these people to justice is if I ran for office,” Pinkney says.
See this story in:
Detroit Free Press
Even the Corrections Connection Network News is watching!
GOLF COURSE TAKES SHAPE
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
"Cornerstone, the CWCC and the CPC are no more separate altruistic entities than are the tentacles of an octopus."
Sunday, October 19, 2008
More Benton Harbor lives ruined - Poverty (ie, no jobs) has always been main cause of "crime" - Keep jobs out of BH, the easier to lock people up
Officer: Two nabbed in alleged drug deal
; Detective says men sold suspected crack to undercover officer, By H-P STAFF, 10/18/08
BENTON HARBOR — Two men were arrested Thursday after one of them allegedly sold crack cocaine to an undercover police officer, Berrien County sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Robert Boyce said. The suspects tossed suspected crack cocaine out the window of their car as a uniformed deputy stopped them after the buy, said Boyce, of the sheriff’s Narcotics Unit.Terrance Scott, 24, of 344 High St., Benton Harbor, was booked at the county jail on charges of cocaine delivery and possession with intent to deliver cocaine, both second offenses. Scott is also charged with driving with a suspended license and was being sought on a warrant for nonsupport.Dwayne Yarbrough, 25, of 1087 Monroe St., Benton Harbor, was booked on a charge of second-offense possession with intent to deliver cocaine. Boyce said the undercover officer made the purchase around 2:15 p.m. The two suspects then drove away from the sale scene and were stopped by a deputy in the 800 block of Colfax Avenue. When the deputy made the stop, the two men began throwing suspected drugs out of the vehicle, Boyce said. Police seized $223 in cash and two cell phones subject to civil forfeiture proceedings in Berrien County Trial Court.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Benton Harbor will be stuck paying off the cleanup of all the contaminated lands for the whole project
Thank goodness for deeds of an ‘audacious few’
Monday, October 13, 2008
Published Oct 9, 2008 9:04 PM
By Andrea Egypt, Detroit
Rev. Pinkney won the nomination even though Berrien County’s criminal justice system has locked him away on a 3-to-10-year prison sentence. The reverend is Benton Harbor’s community activist and minister for the oppressed and dissident African-American, Latin@ and white populations.
Despite his imprisonment, Rev. Pinkney remains defiant and vigilant against the ruling elites of this southwest Michigan community.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Justice Rally, Benton Harbor
An unidentified woman walks towards some of the expensive homes
being built near Jean Klock Park on the shore of Lake Michigan in
Benton Harbor. PHOTO /DAYMON J. HARTLEY
Park Protestors Arrested in Standoff with Police
The Whirlpool Corporation-backed Harbor Shores Community Redevelopment, Inc., started destroying the natural resources of Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor, removing 90-year old trees from the Lake Michigan shore and destroying some of the park's dunes to create an asphalt parking lot.
Residents who filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C. in August to stop the construction of an exclusive private golf course in Benton Harbor's only beachfront park, rushed to Jean Klock Park with other community activists as soon as they saw the bulldozers.
Three Benton Township residents sat on downed, historic cottonwood trees destroyed by the bulldozers and were arrested for civil disobedience.After the arrests, the developers continued the destruction of the park by cutting away some of the southern dunes.
All of this destruction is part of the illegal conversion of Jean Klock Park. A federal lawsuit is pending. The plaintiffs filed a motion for a restraining order to halt the destruction. For more informatino, visit defenseofplace.org and Protect Jean Klock Park, protectjkp.com
Excerpted from a press release from Defense of Place
How Do You Rape a City?
The way a city is raped is to take everything out of it that is of some value. Benton Harbor was a city of businesses, of restaurants, of schools and factories. You take out all the local busineses and bring in new development, but they come in with their rules and the local people don't have any jobs, don't have a chance for anything. If the downtrodden people don't adhere to the new rules, they come in with law enforcement. Do that sound like a city we know? As for what happened in Jean Klock park, "how can you trespass on your own park? How can you be arrested for trespassing in your own city, in a public park, on a public beach on the lakefront? The city has been taken over, given over by city officials, and now we are the trespassers.
- MC, a community activist
Friday, October 10, 2008
You can help rectify the injustices in Benton Harbor and, particularly, against BANCO leader Rev. Pinkney as they fight alongside local and statewide residents to promote economic and social justice in this community. Please make a contribution to the BANCO Legal Defense Fund so we can "Free Rev. Pinkney!"
Use the "Make a Donation" button on the BANCO homepage for PayPal, or mail your check or money order to:
BANCO, 1940 Union St, Benton Harbor, MI 49022
Your $10 will help:
1) Support the right of Benton Harbor citizens to take a stand against a corrupt political and judicial system;
2) Free Rev. Pinkney from Marquette Branch Prison as a political prisoner living in horrible conditions!;
3) Defend our friend and colleague Rev. Pinkney who was imprisoned after an unjust trial on trumped-up charges;
4) Fund the appeal to have Rev. Pinkney's erroneous conviction heard before a higher court;
5) Defend the right of Benton Harbor residents to speak out against injustice without intimidation and reprisals;
6) Stop the disenfranchisement of Benton Harbor voters (a valid recall election was overturned);
7) Support BANCO's fight against brutality and sexual harassment by police;
8) Improve the conditions in a community with 90% unemployment and under-employment (material aid is needed);
9) Challenge economic and racial apartheid in the U.S. today;
10) Spread the word as we join with others worldwide--like Danny Glover, Ed Asner, Howard Zinn, Rachel Maddow--calling for justice in Benton Harbor. Together we can make a difference!