Monday, November 30, 2015

Noel Night in Detroit, Dec. 5: Bring a Free Pinkney Sign!

Calling To All Social Justice Organizations

Detroit's Annual Noel Night is an event full of family fun and laughter. It is the perfect time to have our voices heard and hope for change in the New Year.
We fight against all injustices like the false imprisonment of Rev. Pinkney, Foreclosures, Water Shut-Offs, Fair Wages & Job Opportunities.
For more information contact:
Marcina Cole, Activist/Organizer
Observers In The Court 248.383.3595
Moratorium Now / David Sole: 313.680.5508
* Special Thanks To The Light Brigade
Find this and other events on the Activate!313 Calendar

Marquette prison officials lock down Pinkney

Retaliation for media coverage

by David Sole

Following is a first-hand account of a visit to Marquette Branch Prison by David Sole, a retired Detroit trade unionist and supporter of political prisoner the Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, Mich.

The Rev. Edward Pinkney, already in 24/7 isolation in Marquette Branch Prison, was slammed with bogus charges on Nov. 21 and placed into “segregation,” canceling any prison visits.

Pinkney had been punitively transferred to the western part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on Oct. 6 from downstate Lakeland Prison. At Lakeland, he had absolutely no problems from the prison guards or administration. But many believe this political prisoner was getting “too many” visitors and “too much” media coverage, leading to his transfer.

Read more:

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Holiday Campaign Flyer: Please copy, print, distribute!

Message from Prisoner # 294671
Political Prisoner Rev. Edward Pinkney speaks:
"I was transferred to Marquette Prison, shackled, mistreated, and intimidated. I was forced to strip on five different occasions. I am forced into overcrowding, inadequate exercise, lack of clean clothing, and inadequate medical care. 
"I believe that [they] have put a hit on me, inside the prison system. I believe they are trying to force me to die in prison. If I do not survive this, you will know the reason why." 
"The blatantly unconstitutional conduct by Judge Sterling Schrock, Prosecutor Mike Sepic, Sheriff Bailey, and the all-white jury have placed my life in danger.
"I need you to stand with me against the corrupt, broken system, a criminal enterprise operating in Berrien County and across the country--a lynch mob in black robes and three-piece suits."

My name is Reverend Edward Pinkney and my home is in Benton Harbor. I am an internationally recognized activist who fights for justice for all. I am a political prisoner, locked in a cell in Marquette Prison 500 miles away from my family and attorney.

I am a victim of racial injustice and overreaching corporate power in Berrien County, Michigan. I was sentenced to 30 months to ten years (a death sentence at my age of 67) because I exercised my democratic right to petition to recall Mayor James Hightower, who supported the Whirlpool Corporation and not the residents of Benton Harbor. I was charged with five felony counts of changing dates on petitions! While I was out of town celebrating my wife's birthday on April 24, 2014, Benton Harbor police blocked my street with military trucks and sent in a SWAT team to arrest me on these trumped up charges. There was absolutely nothing presented at my trial (Oct. 2014) to implicate me of any wrongdoing. There was no direct or circumstantial evidence, no eyewitness, no confession—nothing—and yet an all-white jury found me guilty.                                       (over)

National Holidays Campaign
To Save Rev. Edward Pinkney       
1 – CARD: Send a holiday greeting card to Rev. Edward Pinkney, NE-93 # 294671, Marquette Branch Prison, 1960 U.S. Hwy 41 South, Marquette, MI 49855. This will show him, and the prison authorities, his wide ranging support.
2 -  CALL: Call Governor Rick Snyder at 517- 373-3400. Tell him to restore Rev. Pinkney's phone access; transfer Rev. Pinkney back to Lakeland Prison, closer to home; remove Robert Napel as warden at Marquette Prison.
3 – CONTRIBUTE: Give a holiday gift to Rev. Pinkney's legal defense at PayPal or send a check to BANCO, c/o Mrs. Dorothy Pinkney, 1940 Union St., Benton Harbor, MI 49022.
Learn more about how Rev. Pinkney was railroaded to prison at or (search "Pinkney")           313-680-5508                     

As a long-time resident of Benton Harbor, I have steadfastly opposed the conduct of Whirlpool and Harbor Shores, Inc. as I watched the loss of jobs, the loss of homes and the loss of dignity for the residents of my city. I am being punished by the racist Berrien County "justice" system and local authorities for opposing Whirlpool's plan to expand its hostile land take over, gentrify Benton Harbor and turn the area into a multi-million dollar golf resort and playground for tourists.

Whirlpool is a multi-billion dollar global appliance manufacturing corporation with its headquarters in Benton Harbor. GOP Representative Fred Upton from Michigan, heir to the Whirlpool fortune, has spent the past decade outsourcing U.S. workers' jobs (including hundreds from Benton Harbor), grabbing public land illegally (a 22 acre park plus the Warren Dunes along Lake Michigan that J.N. and Carrie Klock gave to the city of Benton Harbor for the children in memory of their only child who died in infancy), and corrupting the county officials (judges, attorneys, public officials and law enforcement) to ensure Whirlpool's success in owning everything in sight: people, lands, businesses, real estate, even churches.

For my opposition and outspokenness, I am paying a debt to society which I do not owe, with my life, my family life, and my community. Prosecutor Mike Sepic claimed that because I was so involved with political and community matters, including those far beyond the Hightower recall effort, I was willing to commit illegal acts to promote my position in the community. Under MRE 404(b) and the Constitution, there was no basis in the case for Prosecutor Sepic to bring up previous court cases or civic affiliations to support an allegation of motivation to participate in other activity that was illegal. Prosecutor Sepic's misconduct violated my Constitutional right to a fair trial.

Berrien County Judge Sterling Schrock ignored the law and evidence during my trial. Schrock and Sepic worked together as a team against me. The jury itself was a rogue jury. We have evidence that some of the jurists knew each other professionally and personally, but did not reveal their relationships. Few of the prospective jurors were Black and all selected were white. Hearing no evidence against me, this jury nevertheless reached a verdict based on prejudice, not based on a desire to achieve a just, fair or moral outcome. The system could not get away with the corruption if the news media would expose the travesties and injustices wrought onto individuals by the system. Too often, the media favors judges and prosecutors just like they favor bosses over workers during a strike. As long as we allow the court system to fill the privately-run prisons to meet the quota demands of for-profit companies (who prefer prison wages over union wages) the system will need a complete overhaul.

I am sitting in prison for opposing this rotten system, so that Whirlpool Corporation can gobble up and "revitalize" Benton Harbor and deprive residents of the right to enjoy the beauty of the white sands of Lake Michigan. I ask for your help in overturning this unjust, racist and anti-worker conviction. As the labor movement has said for over 100 years, AN INJURY TO ONE IS AN INJURY TO ALL.
Rev. Edward Pinkney
Issued by: Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice              313-680-5508      
(labor donated)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

BREAKING: Rev. Pinkney in Solitary Confinement

As of Saturday, Rev. Edward Pinkney has been "segregated" (i.e. placed in solitary confinement and isolated from other prisoners and all visitors). The reason given was so trivial, it's obviously an excuse for retribution against Rev. Pinkney for exercising his First Amendment rights. We do not yet know how long the solitary confinement will last. He had already been in 24/7 "lockdown" for bogus charges concerning telephone use and the lockdown was supposed to end Nov. 25th. Clearly, the prison is seeking to isolate him from the public and from his many supporters by any pretense. As Rev. Pinkney wrote us previously, Marquette Branch Prison has had 4 killings and 17 assaults in the past four months, yet they find it necessary to send Rev. Pinkney, who poses no physical threat to anyone, to solitary confinement.

Read on below for David Sole's account of the developments in Marquette over the weekend.

Please continue to call MDOC and the Governor's office, and continue to send cards, letters, and books to Rev. Pinkney. Distribute the holiday campaign leaflet widely. And join BANCO in Berrien County tomorrow, Tuesday, 11/24, 11am to protest this outrageous abuse and miscarriage of justice!

Local supporters protesting Rev. Edward Pinkney's solitary confinement
at Marquette Branch Prison, Nov. 22, 2015.

Short report on Nov. 20-22 visit to Marquette, by David Sole

I flew into Sawyer airport at 3:10 pm on Friday. A supporter of Rev. Pinkney picked me up and we drove to the county courthouse where Gov. Snyder maintains an office. At 4:30 pm we held a press conference outside the building. ABC TV 10 and NBC TV 6 attended. We had three Marquette activists plus myself. We opened a “Free Rev. Pinkney” banner and gave interviews. ABC ran the story at the 10 pm news and has it posted on their website. All Marquette media received a press release earlier in the week and a phone call the day before.

I went to prison that evening and had a 3 hour visit with Rev. Pinkney. He was in good spirits. Except for visits and 15 minutes for meals he was restricted to his cell – part of punishment that also includes loss of phone access. His blood pressure is up (he didn’t suffer from this before his transfer to Marquette) and they ordered his pressure checked once a week (clearly inadequate). The food in Marquette is worse, if possible, than at Lakeland prison.

Rev. Pinkney received the many birthday cards and has been getting letters and some books. The prison guard handed me a Workers World newspaper and a book that they had refused to allow in to him. He greatly appreciates all correspondence, even when he can’t answer.

Rev. Pinkney is challenging the bogus “tickets” written against him for misusing the telephone. He was supposed to get out of the lockdown on Wednesday, Nov. 25.

During the visit, Rev. Pinkney gave me blank paper and a pen to take notes. I was given paper and pencil at Lakeland by the guard and allowed to take and carry out notes. The guard at Marquette was right in view while I took two pages of notes and said nothing.

On the way out a guard demanded I empty my pockets. Of course, they were empty and checked when I went in, so I handed over the notes I had just taken. These consisted mainly of copying the “ticket” charges against Rev. Pinkney, ideas of places for people to contact, and the need for more protests. The guard confiscated these, saying that one could not take anything out from the visiting area.

On Saturday I went with one supporter to NMU campus and left leaflets about Rev. Pinkney around the library. We went to the public library where an art fair was happening and stood outside handing leaflets to about 50 people.

At 5 pm we drove to the prison for another visit. Before I could get out of the car, Officer Johnson came out to the parking lot and said that “Pinkney is in segregation and can see no visitors.” I asked why and he said “for smuggling information out to his wife.” I stated that I wrote the notes and I attempted to carry them out, not Rev. Pinkney. He refused to discuss this and started shouting at me to get off prison property. 

We left and called the TV stations to announce that we would be protesting Sunday morning at the prison gate. We didn’t expect the media to attend on short notice, Sunday morning, as they have very small staffs. Myself and two supporters gathered at the gate to Marquette prison at 9:30 am Sunday morning. We opened the Free Pinkney banner, took some photos, and held the banner for the prison cameras and the traffic on Rte. 41 to see (photo above). No media attended.

We later attended a luncheon that followed services at the St. Paul Episcopal church where two Pinkney supporters attend and had arranged for me to speak. About 25 congregants listened to a presentation and got leaflets. We urged them to send a holiday card to Rev. Pinkney, call the governor to express concern, and make a holiday donation (see holiday campaign leaflet).

The Dr. Esiquio Uballe and his wife Susan Uballe who invited us to the church will be working to see if their priest or the bishop can visit Rev. Pinkney despite the segregation blockade. Esiquio and Susan will also bring up the issue of Rev. Pinkney to a peace and justice council in which they participate to work on generating more local support.

Educational System in Prison Is a Joke: Letter from a Prisoner in Marquette Branch Prison

Written by Lee Lambert, #398191, Marquette Branch Prison.

During my 16 years of incarceration in the Michigan Department of Corrections, I've noticed an alarming trend.

Young African American men are being locked up and funneled into the Prison Industrial Complex. The State of Michigan incarcerates these young men with no concrete plan on how to rehabilitate them, educate them, or steer them in a positive direction. These young men enter the prison population with no idea that incarceration is the new form of slavery.

It is not uncommon to see large groups of black men, crowded around the day room television, watching the latest "Love and Hip-hop" or "Basketball Wives" or "Black Ink," shows that portray black men and women in a very negative light. The conversations are laced with profanity, disrespect and rap lyrics. Very rarely do I find a young black man involved in elevating his mind.

The prison educational system is a joke! My prison job is "tutor" for Employment Readiness and G.E.D. I see, firsthand, how the prison system doesn't care whether you learn how to create a resume or if you obtain your G.E.D. They only care that the public knows that it's offered to inmates. I've seen men in G.E.D. classes for 2-3 years, unable to pass the tests because the teachers don't care. The adage, "The money isn't in the cure, it's in the treatment" applies here. "Why teach them to think for themselves. Let's keep them ignorant and locked up."

It is our duty to lift each other up to higher ground. We must not just plant information, but impart wisdom to these young men. The effort of planting information must result in making a man think and do for himself.

I have approximately 96 days left on my prison journey. I have dedicated myself to speaking out about mass incarceration. We need to lift the incarcerated black man to a higher ground.

Will you help?

Lee Lambert #498191, Marquette Branch Prison

Pinkney Writes from Marquette Branch Prison

Before his confinement to "segregation" (solitary), Rev. Pinkney sent us the writings below.

Federal, state, and local governments spend over $200 billion annually in tax dollars to ensure that one out of every 75 Americans is behind bars. Prison Profiteers (Tara Herivel and Paul Wright, eds., 2007) traces the flow of capital from public to private hands, and reveals how monies designated for public good with the help of wardens end up in the pockets of enterprises dedicated to keeping prison cells filled with your relatives and keeping the pubic in total fear. This is the weapon used by law enforcement to control the public.

Michigan Department of Correction's statement about Marquette Branch Prison is the biggest lie that has been told. The lie states: You have been placed at Marquette Branch Prison, 500 miles from your home, into a reduced security facility because department staff feel that you are a responsible individual who no longer needs confinement behind a wall or fence. But today we have three cast-iron faces. Serving time in a reduced security setting is much different from being in a regular prison because specific threats of death, forcible sexual attacks, and substantial bodily injuries occur more often. Many complaints are reported, but there is no relief. There is less freedom, no jobs, and the school is a joke. It's only about the federal dollars that MDOC receives.

Marquette Branch Prison is a place where prisoners are mistreated, poorly fed, beaten, and some even killed. This is an issue of moral standards and human rights. We must hold the MDOC accountable for their actions and inactions of wrongdoing. We demand that Warden Napel of Marquette Branch Prison be terminated immediately!

Pimping the Taxpayers

Although there is an expanding body of writing and analysis regarding the harms caused by mass incarceration in America, there is little discussion about the increasing number of entitites that profit from and subsequently engender the growth of prisons. Beginning with the owners of private prisons and extending through a whole range of esoteric industries from the maker of tazer stun guns, to riot security training companies, to prison  healthcare providers, to the politicians, lawyers, and bankers who structure deals along with the warden to steal money from the taxpayers.

While there are many industries that make money from prisons, they are eager to make use of the enormous labor pool of prisoners for whom the usual restrictions of labor protections do not apply. The public well-being is not one of the priorities of the profiteer.

The prison phone company contracts, awarded by MDOC on the basis of the largest kickback and with rates unequalled in any other setting and featuring price-gouging of prisoners' loved ones, enriches telecommunication firms and MDOC alike. The cost of a 15-minute phone call at 23 cents per minute is $3.45. The telecommunication company charges MDOC 2-3 cents per minute. The profit for MDOC is $3 per call.

The correctional guards are poorly educated and inadequately trained, with weapons like tazers where the companies profit from supplying these weapons to prison and jails.

On the surface, prison jobs appear to serve a number of positive aims. They provide pocket change for people who have no other money-making prospects, keep prisoners busy in an idle environment, and build skills prisoners might use after release. But prison labor is generally exempt from basic labor protections like worker's compensation, labor and industry safeguards, benefits of any kind, or the ability to unionize. This is a situation that has captured the interest of private businesses eager to circumvent such irritants as expensive regulations. The real beneficiaries of prison labor are the private companies who reap all the profit to the detriment of both captive and free world labor, which suffers the consequences of what is essentially unfair competition.

Let's face the facts: the Michigan Department of Corrections is pimping the taxpayers for every dollar they can get. When will the taxpayers say NO MORE?!

Cop Excuses

10 outrageous excuses cops have used to kill unarmed people over the past year

by Justin Gardner

Informed readers are well aware that U.S. police have the dubious reputation of killing lots of civilians compared to other countries. The War on Drugs provided much of the basis for this abomination. In four days, U.S. police killed as many people as Chinese police did in 2014, and more than five European countries' police did in 2014. In the first 24 days of 2015, U.S. police killed more people than England and Wales did in the last 24 years.

The worst part about this is how many of these victims were unarmed. As of June 1, 2015, 102 people killed by police were unarmed. We can add more to this number, including the killing of Zachary Hammond who was shot by a policeman through a car window over a bag of marijuana. Here are five of the most outrageous excuses police used for killing unarmed people during the last year.

1) He was walking with a purpose. Officer Vanessa Miller killed Ryan Bollinger (28) after witnessing him dancing in the street during a traffic stop. After a low-speed chase, Bollinger exited the vehicle and was "walking with a purpose" toward Miller who then shot him from inside the car through the rolled up window.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Rally Tuesday, Berrien County Courthouse! Free Rev. Pinkney Now!

Please join the Free Rev. Pinkney Now Rally! 

Where: Berrien County Courthouse, 811 Port Street
When: Tuesday, November 24, 2015. 11 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

We will gather on the sidewalk at the entrance of the parking lot. Any questions, please call Emma Kinnard at two-6-nine-0-two-7-four-8-three-6.

Thank you,
Emma Kinnard, Community activist from Benton Harbor

More Writings from Rev. Pinkney in Prison

1) Rev. Pinkney Speaks from Prison
2) Marquette Branch Prison
3) Political Persecution
4) "Black Men in America Incarcerated at Higher Rate than Black Men Under Apartheid"
5) Excerpts from the New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

1) Rev. Pinkney Speaks from Prison

The state of Michigan convicts more than 75,000 people a year of committing felonies. More than 50,000 plead guilty to a plea bargain. At each stage of the process, law officials make discretionary decisions that are unchecked by other officials. The police decide who to arrest, then the prosecutors decide whether to prosecute. Prosecutors decide what charges to bring, and district judges decide whether there is probable cause to make the defendant stand trial. More than 99.9% of the time the judge will rule with evidence in favor of the prosecutor, and the circuit judges and juries decide whether the evidence shows guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. But not in America, where the white judges and juries have unrevealed, hidden, deeply-rooted racial prejudices.

This carefully constructed system of unchecks and unbalances  is designed to control the use of overwhelming government power against the accused, and against the people.

The price of failing to place any limits on the exercise of discretion is very high, for all taxpayers. The average cost of keeping innocent people in prison is about $35,000 to $40,000 a year. If half of those currently eligible were released, the savings would approach $17 million. The criminal justice system is a complete failure of integrity.

The function of judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys are effectively usurped by the corporations, which have merged with the government--not just in Berrien County, but across the country. For prisoners and their family members, the shift in emphasis from rehabilitation to punishment destroys the hope of the people, who can never earn their way home.

The price we the people are paying for unchecked discretion is tremendous. The prosecutor has all the resources and the home court advantage, including the judge in his pocket and the public defenders working with him. We find that evidence does not lie, but judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, and all white juries do. Let's stand together and fight back!

2) Marquette Branch Prison

Marquette Prison opened in 1889, one of the oldest prisons in Michigan. It is also the most racist. Marquette has a Level V section and an unsecured Level I, which operates like a Level V. Marquette is a prison where there are specific threats of death, forcible sexual assault, or substantial bodily injury in the immediate future.

In the last four months, there have been four killings and 17 assaults, which include a correctional officer tazing an inmate to death. This is not unusual. Warden Robert Napel would make Adolf Hitler proud.

Lansing, Michigan, is the headquarters of the Department of Corrections. Marquette Prison takes orders directly from Lansing. Lansing has condoned the actions at Marquette. They forgive and overlook their misdeeds. The Michigan Department of Corrections does not care about how many inmates are killed, assaulted, or sexually molested. They only care about me making a phone call. MDOC is trying to silence the voice of the people. Let me give you a few things to think about.

The telephone contract: Prisoners are charged 23 cents per minute for a call. GTL is charging 2-3 cents per minute. MDOC is making over 20 cents per minute revenue. I would like a copy of the prisoner phone contract for prisoner review, and to answer questions brought forth by the population. MDOC said the contract will not be provided to the prisoner population for review. The warden said the contract is between GTL and MDOC, not the prisoners. The warden forgets that prisoners are spending their families' money.

The commissary vendors charge the prisoners three times what the product costs. The warden said that the current store contract has been extended based on the same contract, that MDOC will operate the store in the manner it is currently running, and that there's nothing prisoners can do about it.

The warden is pimping the prisoners and the taxpayers. We must spread the word. We must stop the Department of Corrections and stand together!

3) Political Persecution

I am sitting in Marquette Branch Prison with a warden who thinks he is Adolf Hitler. He rules with an iron fist; what he says, goes. He is the Man. He believes in the capitalist system. We are living in America, where young Black men are being incarcerated at a rate of 10,000 per 100,000 (10%). The fact is Black people are targeted to go to prison. This isn't only about me, it's about the future of our children. Our criminal justice system is less about punishing the unjust and more about reflecting the power inequities we have in the United States. We must stand together. We can win!

4) Black Men in America Incarcerated at Higher Rate than Black Men Under Apartheid

Nearly forty percent of the 2.2 million Americans in prison are Black men. This amounts to one out of every nine Black men between the ages of 20 and 34, meaning one in three Black men will be imprisoned at some point in their lifetimes. Beginning in the 1970’s, statutes meant to lower crimes rates and deter the drug trade facilitated the explosion of the US prison population, with most of the increase coming from nonviolent drug offenses.  -April V. Taylor
Read more.

5) Excerpts from the New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

When someone is convicted of a crime today, their “debt to society” is never paid. The “cruel hand” that Frederick Douglass spoke of more than 150 years ago has appeared once again. In this new system of control, like the last, many black men “hold up [their] heads, if at all, against the withering influence of a nation’s scorn and contempt.” -p. 163
In 1987, when media hysteria regarding black drug crime was at a fever pitch and the evening news was saturated with images of black criminals shackled in courtrooms, the Supreme Court ruled in McClesky v. Kemp that racial bias in sentencing, even if shown through credible statistical evidence, could not be challenged under the Fourteenth Amendment in the absence of clear evidence of conscious, discriminatory intent. -p. 109
Read more.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Struggle Continues: How You Can Help

Protesters stood in solidarity with Rev. Pinkney and all political prisoners, and made some noise today outside MDOC headquarters in Lansing. Many passersby took flyers and even some people driving by shouted, "Free Pinkney!" Excellent speakers broke down the situation and gave an update on the outrageous harassment Rev. Pinkney has faced in recent weeks at Marquette Branch Prison. After the protest, supporters visited offices of legislators at the state capitol and delivered information on Rev. Pinkney's case.

Rev. Pinkney has had his phone privileges cut, has been falsely accused of infractions and been given tickets, mail from his lawyer has been opened (illegally) before he receives it, he has been harassed and called names by guards, etc. Another prisoner recommended him to give sermons to other inmates, but his assignment was suddenly revoked without explanation. His health has suffered since his transfer to Marquette, exposure to black mold, and exposure to the stress of a situation made hostile and dangerous by prison staff.

Rev. Pinkney asks that we PLEASE KEEP CALLING MDOC officials. See below for details.

Also contact: Rep. Fred Durhal, Jr. 1-517-373-0844, Senator Bert Johnson,-1-517-373-7748, and other state representatives and senators about Rev. Pinkney’s case.

Also, please add your name to the NEW PETITION calling on Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Congressman John Conyers to help secure Rev. Pinkney's release. Help us reach the goal!

Funds are still urgently needed! See PayPal donate button on the upper right corner of this page. Follow this link for details.

Lastly, thank you to East Bay artist and activist Rich Black for his beautiful artwork below. Free Rev. Pinkney!

Writings from Rev. Pinkney

1. Judge Schrock Stole 30 Months of Rev. Pinkney's Life
2. Showdown Between the People and the Courts Over Press and Media
3. Berrien County Court Says No to Free Speech! Forget the Constitution

1. Judge Schrock Stole 30 Months of Rev. Pinkney's Life

With his sentence, Judge Sterling Schrock stole 30 months from my life, costing the Pinkney family hardship that will never be compensated. I have raised issues in the appeal which, if successful, will prevent retrial. One issue is the sufficiency of the evidence as to whether I could be convicted as a principal or an aider and abetter. In order to sustain a charge of aiding and abetting against an accessory, the guilt of another person as principal and some evidence of concerted action between the defendant and the principal must be shown.

This case provides one of the rare instances where the sufficiency of the evidence issue is so compelling. I was convicted, by an all-white jury, of forgery of dates on petitions to recall Benton Harbor Race Manager Mayor James Hightower. However, 1) I did not have exclusive possession of the petitions, 2) no one testified that they saw me forge petitions, 3) I did not confess to forging the petitions, 4) the forensic handwriting examiner from the Michigan State Police indicated that he could not determine who made changes to the petitions, 5) the prosecution's own witnesses indicated that persons other than me circulated some of the petitions, and 6) defense witnesses indicated another person forged the petitions.

Evidence does not lie, but Judge Schrock, Prosecutor Sepic, Sheriff Bailey, County Clerk Tyler, Election Clerk Toliver, and juror Gail Freehling do. We must all stand together and we will win in the end!

2. Showdown Between the People and the Courts Over Press and Media

The meat and potatoes of reporting on what's happening in the legal system is achieved by sending reporters into the courts to watch and force the New Media to tell the truth. There is a lot of vital news happening in our courts today that is simply not being covered. The functions of the judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys are effectively usurped by the corporations. An unfair system with little transparency and no accountability is worthless. People who sit back and watch shows such as Law and Order, NCIS, CSI, Cops, and Perry Mason have no idea about the court system in this country, especially in Berrien County where Whirlpool controls the court system and the news media.

As a person who has observed in courts for more than two decades, it's my distinct impression that the nuts and bolts of court reporting has taken a huge hit because corporations have taken control. Newspapers that used to have a reporter in every courthouse in their coverage area now are lucky to have a single reporter covering a dozen or so courts.

We the people must take a stand, not only to become reporters of the criminal justice system, but to expose the corrupt judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, and all-white juries. We must say enough is enough!

3. Berrien County Court Says No to Free Speech! Forget the Constitution

The situation in Berrien County was described by Michigan civil rights attorney Hugh "Buck" Davis like this:
In the 1960s, it was called Negro removal. In Bosnia, it was called ethnic cleansing. It is called genocide today, the deliberate destruction of a race of Black people, the removal of minority populations for the purpose of redevelopment of the land. That's what's happening in Benton Harbor, and leading the resistance is Rev. Edward Pinkney.
The Berrien County court gave a resounding "No" to freedom of speech in my trial. An important civil liberties issue in my case is whether the prosecution improperly admitted evidence of my legally-protected First Amendment political activity. The problem is that much of my community activism is not popular with most of the white people in the county where I was prosecuted. We are living in a time when prosecutors are allowed to make up things and violate Constitutional protections to fit their purpose. Judges have given themselves judicial immunity for their judicial function. However, judicial immunity does not exist for judges who engage in criminal activity by aiding in the criminal activity of the prosecutor. Berrien County Judge Sterling Schrock and Prosecutor Mike Sepic are operating criminal activities in the Berrien County court and must be stopped!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Update on Rev. Pinkney's Appeals

Supporters have asked about the status of Rev. Pinkney's appeals. There had been two appeals underway, one regarding the appeal bond issue, the other regarding the appeal itself which was filed on 9/21/15.

On 10/21, the state supreme court declined to review the decision denying Rev. Pinkney bond pending appeal. The court's decision is very disappointing, but not surprising since they seldom review bond decisions. We hoped they would in this special case, since one of the three-member panel of appellate judges (Judge Shapiro) would have granted bond pending appeal and would have granted reconsideration.

On 10/23, a new panel of judges from the 3rd District appellate court denied the motion for remand. This motion requested an evidentiary hearing at the trial court level to determine whether Rev. Pinkney's defense attorney at the trial failed to provide adequate representation because he didn't object to the judge's instructions to the jury regarding the "aiding and abetting theory."

Now the appeal will move to oral arguments before a panel of appellate judges drawn from throughout the state. The ACLU and NLG plan to submit amicus briefs in support of Rev. Pinkney's appeal. The entire appeals process could still take many months.

Keep calling MDOC and your representatives to protest mistreatment of Rev. Pinkney in Marquette Branch Prison!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Visiting Rev. Pinkney in Marquette

This past weekend, Mrs. Dorothy Pinkney and Marcina Cole were able to travel the 480+ miles to Marquette, Michigan, to visit Rev. Pinkney in prison. Although there was snow the second day, luckily they were able to visit both days for a total of about 6 hours. The following is Marcina Cole's account of the visit.


November 11th, I set out on my journey to go to Marquette Branch Prison to see Reverend Edward Pinkney. Hours passed, we arrived in Benton Harbor, Michigan, and knocked on Mrs. Dorothy Pinkney’s door. I was so happy to see her, we embraced. I looked at the many pictures on the wall of Reverend Pinkney with dignitaries and Danny Glover, the actor, posted in the vestibule. The next morning we left early, the three Women Justice Warriors, brave enough to face the atrocities of inequality in the Political and Judicial System. When we arrived on Thursday, November 12, in the prison parking lot we saw ahead of us an old brick building looking like something from a horror movie. Guards were walking around entering and exiting the building. I was relieved that when I handed my driver’s license to the guard at the front desk and he checked the computer, my name was on the visitor list, thank God.

Mrs. Pinkney and I had to go in a room with the female guard. Before entering the locked steel gates, the guard instructed us one at a time to remove our shoes, lifting each foot so that she could see the bottom of it. I then faced the wall with my arms extended out for the female guard to do a pat down. Mrs. Pinkney and I were cleared to go past the front desk where we signed our names on the sign in sheet. We stood by the steel gate; I heard a loud clank sound, then the gate opened. We entered, and proceeded to go through the metal detector. Then there was another glass partition with a guard to our right to get our hand mark, and I had to place my hand face down for the ultraviolet light to shine on my hand.

After that, there was another metal gate, the loud clanking sound again, the gate opened. We went down a few stairs to a big open space, and that’s where the visiting room was, in the vestibule. Vending machines, with pop and other junk food, no hot foods, no microwave. The female guard grabbed three chairs, one was a different color than ours, the white chair was for the inmate. Mrs. Pinkney said the guard stated that the seat that her husband was going to sit at had to face the guard. On each side of the hallway where we were sitting were several glass partitions with phones for prisoners to speak to visitors who could not be in physical contact with the prisoner. Behind me there was a large glass partition room for the prison guards. Many walked through the room throughout the three-hour visit. Those guards were coming out of the front gate, side gate, and going in the rear room.

Reverend Pinkney came through the metal bars with a male guard, and entered the visiting room. He greeted his wife with open arms. The female guard told Mrs. Pinkney earlier that when Rev. Pinkney came they were allowed only one hug and one kiss when he enters in the room, and when visiting hours are over, only one hug and one kiss, no other touching allowed.

Rev. Pinkney was very surprised to see his wife because no one told him who had come to visit him. Unfortunately we were not able to tell him in advance because his phone privileges were cut off. He had a big smile to see his wife standing in front of him. He kept saying her name over and over again: Dorothy. It was a touching moment to witness.

Rev. Pinkney mentioned that he heard even in prison that the MDOC demonstration went very well. I noticed as we sat back in our seats, the female guard had all eyes on us. By the way, there were white visitors sitting not too far from us, but they were not getting the gazing that the female guard gave us. We were being watched the entire time of our visit. I suspect the guard was told to keep her eyes on us at all times. Mrs. Pinkney and I stared back at her, I smiled, the guard had a smirk on her face. Reverend Pinkney and Mrs. Pinkney talked at length. I dared not interrupt because Rev. Pinkney would not like that, I waited patiently for my turn to speak.

The prison conditions are horrible for Rev. Pinkney. The name calling continues, lights are still being shined on him through the night causing sleep deprivation, no change of clothing, 24/7 locked down in his cell. The only time he can come out is when he has a visitor. One person was killed last week by a prison guard. Yes, Marquette is a very dangerous place to be for Rev. Pinkney.

Reverend Pinkney gave me some instructions, and the overall campaign is to Get the Word Out about the mistreatment of him at Marquette Prison. These are some of the things we discussed on the two-day visit at Marquette prison with Reverend Edward Pinkney, Mrs. Dorothy Pinkney, and Marcina Cole:

  • Contact Michigan Election Commissioner
  • Contact Rep. Fred Durhal, Jr. 1-517-373-0844, Senator Bert Johnson,-1-517-373-7748, and other State representatives and senators about Rev. Pinkney’s case.
  • Need more people to get involved spreading the word of the mistreatment of Rev. Pinkney in Marquette Prison by the prison guards and Warden Robert Napel.
  • Mark Fancher, staff attorney with the ACLU, sent a letter to MDOC and Marquette Branch Prison about the mistreatment of Rev. Edward Pinkney at the prison facility.
  • A lot of tax dollars are spent to run the prisons. It costs the state of Michigan 2 billion dollars annually. It would be feasible to shut down some prisons, particularly Marquette prison, with its mold in the air vents and the walls, affecting inmates' health. The money would be better spent on education than spending on housing prisoners for 20, 30, 40+ years in a penal institution.

I was very uncomfortable at Marquette Branch Prison, and I felt an ominous presence and sense that something is not right at this prison. Yes, we must try very hard to get Reverend Pinkney out of this Concentration Camp called a prison that’s filled with killers. With the help of a legal team, supporters across this country and abroad, his wife and other members of his family, we will help set free Reverend Edward Pinkney now!

Letter from ACLU of Michigan to Director Washington and Warden Napel

Transcription of text:

Dear Ms. Washington and Warden Napel:

The ACLU of Michigan has received reports that Rev. Edward Pinkney, who is currently housed in the Marquette Branch Prison, has been subjected to ongoing harassment and conditions of confinement that are hazardous to his physical and mental health. Specifically, it is alleged that he was housed for some period of time in a small area that was contaminated by extensive black mold which caused him to become ill. There are complaints that: his phone privileges have been arbitrarily suspended; his mail has been handled inappropriately; he has been denied adequate clothing; guards have engaged in conduct intended to isolate him; and various other actions that have created unacceptable conditions.

With this letter we are apprising you of the reports we have received and we urge you to investigate and determine the extent and nature of Rev. Pinkney's conditions of confinement. Further, we ask that you remedy forthwith any conditions that fail to meet constitutional and legal standards. Deliberate indifference to such conditions can result in liability. See Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294 (1991); and Hadix v. Johnson, 367 F.3d 513, 525 (6th Cir. 2004).

We respectfully request that you take whatever actions necessary to ensure the health, safety and welfare of Rev. Pinkney, and that you provide us with your assurance that conditions that concern us have been fully addressed. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Mark P. Fancher
Staff Attorney - Racial Justice Project

Friday, November 13, 2015

Pinkney's life is in danger

The possibility of me losing my life at Marquette Branch Prison is real.  A genuine servant of Jesus implies real commitment, pledging one's whole existence to service of the people.  If we try to save our physical life from death, pain, suffering, discomfort, or even prison, we may risk losing our future, true eternal life.

If we try to save or protect ourselves from death, pain, suffering, discomfort, or even prison without Jesus in our lives, we begin to die spiritually and emotionally.  Our lives turn inward, and we lose our intended purpose.  When we give our lives in service to Christ, to the community, we discover the real purpose of living.  We the people must come together and fight the corrupt Mich. Dept. of Correction (maybe it should be Corruption.)

Michigan could save nearly $17 million a year by paroling just half of the aging low-risk lifers who have been eligible for release for decades.

The only legal barrier to continued incarceration is the Maximum Sentence which lifers at Marquette do not have.  Prisoners can no longer appeal parole denials to the courts, but prosecutors and victims can appeal decisions to grant release.  Without judicial review, guidelines that are meant to inform parole board decisions are unenforceable.  The parole board decisions that are supposed to be based on the prisoner’s re-offense risk are justified by subjective assessments of the person’s insight, remorse, and empathy.

Marquette Prison is the oldest prison with over 70% of prisoners never going home.

The warden Robt. Napel rules with an iron fist.  It is like Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler is in control.   Napel bullies prisoners.  He has a history of sending his guerrilla army to carry on irregular warfare against the prisoners.  He engages in harassment of prisoners.

We must continue to call and plan a major protest in front of the MDOC as soon as possible.

My phone was cut off without a hearing;  due process was violated.  The warden is trying to intimidate me;  I will not let him.  I need people to call state senator Bert Johnson ASAP — and also house rep. Fred Durhal Jr.   Keep calling and tell them there was a Due Process rights violation.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Rev. Pinkney Speaks Out

A heavy and cruel hand has been laid upon me, Rev. Edward Pinkney, writing from prison. On Oct. 6, 2015, I was transferred back to Marquette Branch Prison, a two-day ride on the bus, shackled, mistreated, and intimidated. I was forced to strip on five different occasions.

I am forced into overcrowding, inadequate exercise, lack of clean clothing, and inadequate medical care which violates the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. I estimate over 75% of the prisoners in Marquette have mental problems.

I have been an eye-witness to at least five incidents where prisoners were beaten by corrections officers. The Michigan Department of Corrections has been able to dismiss the majority of allegations of abuse and misconduct by claiming that inmates lie and the correctional department always tells the truth. The privileged public believes that the prison system is doing its best to protect them. In the eyes of the public, law enforcement and corrections do not lie.

Once a dozen prisoners were lined up and one of the prisoners asked if he could use the restroom because he could not hold it. In response he was beaten and ordered to strip and get on his knees, then he was further beaten by a number of corrections officers.

The problem I am facing is that the long and cruel arms of Berrien County can reach the Michigan Department of Corrections. They will use the correctional officers to use the inmates to carry out their acts of violence.

I believe that Berrien County officials have put a hit on me, inside the prison system. I believe they are trying to force me to die in prison. If I do not survive this, you will know the reason why. Their boss, the blood-sucking vampire Whirlpool Corporation, is financing this hit. Corporations like Whirlpool can only commit crimes through flesh and blood people. It is only fair that people who are responsible for committing crimes violating human rights be held accountable, including judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, juries, and most importantly, corporations.

The public needs to have confidence that there is one system of justice. We now have two systems of justice, one for the rich and one for the poor. Equal justice should apply to all regardless of whether the crime occurs on the street corner or in the board room.

The blatantly unconstitutional conduct by Judge Sterling Schrock, Prosecutor Mike Sepic, Sheriff Bailey, and the all-white jury have placed my life in danger. A prison hit has been placed on me.

I need you to stop watching all the courtroom drama and law enforcement movies. I need you to stand with me against the corrupt, broken system, a criminal enterprise operating in Berrien County and across the country--a lynch mob in black robes and three-piece suits. An injury to one is an injury to all.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Nelson Peery, My Hero

Note: Although we do not know of anyone receiving a letter from Rev. Pinkney since his phone privileges were cut two weeks ago, we had previously received letters from him and will post those messages over the next few days. The posts concerning keeping the pressure on MDOC and fundraising remain top priority at the top of this blog!

From Rev. Pinkney

To my brother and leader Nelson Peery:

It saddens me, because I cannot be there to give you a real live Rev. Pinkney send-off, but in my heart you will always be with me.

What I learned from you, and I learned a lot, most of all, I learned we are seriously underestimating the American people.  We are underestimating their readiness for a new kind of politics.  We must stand together, Black, White, Brown.

You told me in 2005 that what is needed today is a core of eduators who are capable of helping the people understand what they actually already know.  More than that, we need speakers who are capable of explaining the situation and the inevitable resolution in such a way as to excite people for their historic revolutionary tasks.  You said, "Rev. Pinkney you are that person who can excite people and educate them to a level beyond belief."  You said the future is up to us.

You said:  As we better understand our history, we can better figure out our future and our strategy to get there.  For this revolution to go forward, each of us needs to ask the questions and seek the answers  The dialectitian understands the world is knowable, and studies relentlessly to learn and contribute.  The future is up to us.

You said:  Some people say heaven sounds a little dull.  But if things were dull in heaven, so many people wouldn’t spend so much time and effort to get there.  We are going to do all the things that make us happy, raising our children, seeing them graduate from college, and making sure they are safe.  These are things that make us happy.

When we set about reconstructing the Earth, for example reclaiming the Earth, becoming part of the Earth again, that will be a real accomplishment.  The first task of communism is to rebuild the Earth to clean it up, understand its rhythm, and become part of that rhythm.  The first part of it is to stabilize the Earth, and consequently stabilize humanity.  Happiness will arise in that process.

You said:  What would you do with yourself if you no longer had to worry about your food, shelter, and clothing?  You said you knew what you would do.

You were more than just the founding member of the League of Revolutionaries for a New America. You were my friend, my mentor, my wise and faithful friend, adviser, teacher, my hero!  Sleep on my fellow comrade!  Sleep on!

Rev. Edward Pinkney

More about Nelson Peery

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Rev. Pinkney in danger – faces prison harassment, cut off from telephone

Rev. Pinkney in danger – faces prison harassment, cut off from telephone

By David Sole posted on November 3, 2015

Lansing, Mich. — Michigan political prisoner, the Rev. Edward Pinkney, was transferred on Oct. 6 from a prison close to his wife and attorney to Marquette Branch Prison, 483 miles north. Pinkney, a victim of a frame-up trial and conviction by an all-white jury in Berrien County in western Michigan, was also deprived on Oct. 22 of access to making telephone calls.

On Nov. 2, supporters from around Michigan rallied at the doors to the Michigan Department of Corrections in Lansing, the state capital, to demand an end to the harassment of Rev. Pinkney. They ask supporters to send letters and call prison officials.

Dr. James Anderson, Second from left, speaking outside the Michigan Department of Corrections in Lansing, Nov. 2.Photo: Lou Novak

Dr. James Anderson, Second from left, speaking outside the Michigan Department of Corrections in Lansing, Nov. 2.Photo: Lou Novak
Photo: Lou Novak

At the rally, Workers World talked to Dr. James Anderson, who made the long trip upstate to visit Rev. Pinkney on Oct. 30 and 31 at Marquette Branch Prison. According to Dr. Anderson, “Rev. Pinkney doesn’t know why he was rushed to Marquette Prison. He noticed the transfer document carried in the MDOC van said ‘Expedite’ in large bold letters.

“He feels extremely unsafe. Prison officials tolerate, if not encourage, fights among prisoners. He felt much safer in Lakeland [downstate prison].

“His phone service was cut off without a hearing. He has received four ‘tickets’ but flatly denies the charges, saying they are trumped up. He can lose his phone privileges for up to 6 months!

“Rev. Pinkney reported prison misconduct and harassment against him. Mail from his lawyer has been opened before it reaches him. A fellow prisoner recommended that he conduct church services, but the assignment was suddenly withdrawn without explanation.

“He reports that he is being subjected to name calling by prison staff, with guards telling other prisoners that he is a ‘scammer’ and cannot be trusted. Clothes sent to the prison laundry for washing were never returned to him. He has only one set of clothes to wear.

“The first location in the prison where he was housed had extensive black mold which made him ill. One guard, noting his weakness early in the week, told him ‘Well, you won’t be around here very long.’ Over and over again, sometimes 20 times a day, he is summoned over the public address system. When he reports as ordered, they tell him simply to return to his cell.

“Rev. Pinkney said that at Lakeland [a higher security facility] there were five prisoner headcounts per day. Marquette prison is doing 18 counts per day, including hourly counts through most of the night. [The guards] shine flashlights on the inmates trying to sleep. Rev. Pinkney says he is often awakened by the flashlights and is getting little sleep. This process is known to be destructive to one’s health.

“Rev. Pinkney expressed how grateful he was for the large number of birthday cards sent to him. [His 67th birthday was on Oct. 27.] He urges people to keep sending him cards and letters.”

Readers can write to Rev. Edward Pinkney, NE-93 #294671, Marquette Branch Prison, 1960 U.S. Hwy. 41 South, Marquette, MI 49855. They can call Michigan Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington at 517-241-7238 to urge that phone privileges be restored to Rev. Pinkney and that he be transferred downstate to Lakeland Prison.

Readers can also call Marquette Branch Prison to urge that Rev. Edward Pinkney’s phone privileges be restored and that harassment of this political prisoner stop. Ask for the Deputy Warden’s office 906-226-6531.

Source: Workers World

Goodbye, Hightower! There's a New Mayor in Town

We are happy to report that yesterday city commissioner Marcus Muhammad won the mayoral election in Benton Harbor. The reign of Whirlpool stooge James Hightower is over. We look forward to seeing Mayor Muhammad work closely together with residents to improve lives, reduce poverty and unemployment, fight police racism and brutality, and clean up political and corporate corruption. We also hope that now he will speak even louder in support of #Justice4Pinkney!

For more:
Herald Palladium

Monday, November 02, 2015

Petition to Attorney General Loretta Lynch: Rev. Pinkney Needs Justice! Jailed For Defending Democracy And Challenging Corporate Power

From, please click to sign this new petition!

"We the signers of this petition call for the immediate release and dropping of all charges against Rev. Edward Pinkney.  Rev. Pinkney, has been unjustly convicted and sentenced  to 2.5 - 10 years on trumped up charges of changing dates on a mayoral recall petition.  Rev. Pinkney needs to be freed from a Michigan prison because he has been and continues to be denied justice, like so many other Americans who have become irritants in the eyes of those in power, even though they have broken no laws:

• Justice is denied when phony, trumped-up charges of recall petition fraud are filed against a 67-year-old community activist in an attempt to silence him.

• Justice is denied when a jury convicts without a shred of evidence.

• Justice is denied when a jury ignores the testimony of eyewitnesses that someone else committed the crime without Rev. Pinkney’s knowledge.

• Justice is denied when evidence that a juror lied to get on the jury is ignored.

• Justice is denied when a crime defined by the law as a misdemeanor is prosecuted as a felony to guarantee draconian punishment.

• Justice is denied when a jury violates the required minimum standards of evidence laid out in the Michigan Constitution.

• Justice is denied when an all-white jury is chosen to try a prominent black community leader of an embattled, impoverished city with a 90% black population. This is not a jury of his peers.

• Justice is denied when timely consideration of appeals is delayed.

• Justice is denied when this is the second time Michigan authorities have illegally imprisoned Rev. Pinkney. In 2008 an illegal conviction was overturned on appeal after a year of illegal imprisonment.

• Justice is denied when Rev. Pinkney is the victim of official harasment because he has been leading a 20-year fight to keep the Whirlpool Corp. from gentrifying Benton Harbor, from turning an economically devastated poor community into a private playground for the wealthy.

• Justice is denied as Corporations expand their control over our democracy and threaten all our freedoms.

• Justice will continue to be denied to innocent persons out-of-favor with the power structure as long as they can get away with persecuting innocent, law-abiding, upstanding community activists like Rev. Edward Pinkney."

Lee Camp, a comedian, rallying support for Rev. Pinkney

Nov 2, 2015 — This is Lee Camp, a comedian who covers real news on Redacted Tonight. A brief version of the show is below. This 67-year-old minister continues to be harassed and persecuted in an unjust incarceration. We are fighting harder than ever for Rev. Edward Pinkney. ‪
#‎justice4pinkney, visit us at‬.

Watch, laugh, learn, and share. (Warning: some strong themes and language.)

Free Rev. Pinkney now!