Monday, June 29, 2015

Letter from Lakeland Prisoner

My name is Gary Williams and I'm from Benton Harbor, Michigan. I am currently being held captive at Lakeland Correctional Factility on an unconstitutional charge of felony murder.

Now never did I want to be remembered in anyone's eyes as a murderer or just a misfit from Benton Harbor. However, in many eyes that will be the case. In life I have come to understand that we all grow in stages just like anything that is considered alive. While many things and people grow to maturity, others fall off and do not make it past the beginning stages.

I was a child who was always told what to do, how to do it, but I was never shown how to do it. Because it was assumed automatically that I or “we” should know how to do it because so many have failed doing the same thing. Then when I didn't stop doing what I was told not to do I was considered to be hard-headed, ignorant, crazy! It's like we know the math, but not the formula for the division. But if the formula is not ever shown or explained, why is the answer only given? That is how I felt. So until someone came and showed me how to do it right, I was aimless like blown dust.

My mother and grandma did a great job. But those streets taught me things that neither of them could...things like my ability to survive, and learning how to deal with different personalities, how to provide for myself (depending on me when I can't depend on anyone else). It taught me about false love and loyalty as well.

So as I look back in hindsight it was my strength as well as my downfall, because the good lessons I learned I understand now. But the bad lessons I moved off of and didn't have the formula. So the experiment blew up! Now I'm onto a new project, understanding the true knowledge of self.

The majority of the unguided in our world are caught up in a drought, meaning we do not have deep roots that will help provide the necessary water (knowledge, understanding, love) when we need it most. If one does not feel loved or cared for, then it is even harder to love or care about oneself! So then self-destruction begins to take place, whether it's by drugs, suicide, mental genocide.

However, we have many who try hard to bring forth this knowledge to the masses, but unfortunately we have those who want the masses to remain dry! That way they can continue to use us as tools. Therefore, they are working twice as hard for that knowledge not to reach the masses, especially the youth! And, it is done by all of thes faulty images through TV programs, music, schools, etc. There are positive networks out there, however, they aren't being promoted as they should. So the degrading of women, materialism, and drug money is what's encouraged.

Then we have these schools that provide books and lessons they had when I was going to them, which were a complete shame. But try to imagine this...say someone is starving and you push a steak in front of him and he doesn't eat it, naturally we would ask him what's wrong with him, and not take a second to think if it's something wrong with the steak.

Those are just some of my thoughts that I want to share with you. I pray that some of it will provide thought, conversation, and change.

Thank you,
Gary Williams

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Michigan’s #1 Political Prisoner


June 20, 2015 - Rev. Edward Pinkney has been deprived of his liberty for the last six months. Among the most fearless fighters for Black people and poor people in Michigan, he sits in prison falsely accused of vote fraud, separated from loved ones and community, in a blatant case of state repression. The charges stem from a campaign to recall the Benton Harbor mayor who opposed an income tax that would have generated desperately-needed revenue for the city from Whirlpool, Inc. By imprisoning Pinkney, the officials of Berrien County and their corporate master, Whirlpool, hope to intimidate, subdue, and silence the people of Benton Harbor.

Rev. Pinkney’s spirit isn’t so easily broken. According to his wife Dorothy, who speaks with him twice a day to monitor his health and wellbeing, he is “himself”—meaning dynamic, irrepressible, indomitable, still organizing, both inside and outside the prison walls. But unless and until he gets free on appeal, there are urgent needs we can help with right now.
  • Spread the word. 
    • What’s happening in Benton Harbor affects us everywhere. Pinkney’s work is on the front line of the battle against political corruption, corporate greed, and racist genocide. Benton Harbor was the first city in Michigan to be subjected to an Emergency Financial Manager. In Italy, where Whirlpool is buying up the appliance sector, 2,000 Whirlpool workers face layoffs and went on strike last week. From Michigan to Italy and beyond, we’re stronger when we stand together.
    • Learn more about the struggles in Benton Harbor and Black Autonomy Network Community Organization’s campaigns for justice: http://pinkneycentral.weebly.com/info.html and http://bhbanco.org
  • BOYCOTT Whirlpool & subsidiaries (Amana, Estate, Gladiator Garage Works, Insperience, Jenn-Air, KitchenAid, Magic Chef, Maytag, Roper, Acros, Inglis, Bauknecht, Brastemp, Admiral, IKEA appliances and some Kenmore)
  • Write Pinkney in prison.
    • Send some love and solidarity. He appreciates all communications of any length. Send a postcard, letters, clipped articles about important issues, analysis, and current events.
    • Send letters to:

Rev. Edward Pinkney
Lakeland Prison
Rev. Edward Pinkney # 294671
141 First Street
Coldwater, MI 49036

  • Donate, help raise funds, hold a fundraiser.
    • Dorothy is paying about $300 per month just for phone calls, commissary expenses, and food. She visits weekly so he can at least eat from the vending machine instead of prison food.
    • Case expenses run to the hundreds and thousands of dollars, before attorney fees. The court compelled him to pay restitution to the mayor of Benton Harbor, the target of the recall petition.
    • Dorothy said, “We know the economy’s bad and we’re not asking anyone to give what they don’t have. But if you can give a little, we really appreciate it.”
    • Donate online at http://bhbanco.org (click the Donate button) or send checks to:

BANCO
1940 Union Ave.
Benton Harbor, MI 49022

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Gov. Rick Snyder Says Sending Fewer to Prison Is “Smart Justice”

According to the Detroit Free Press, “Gov. Snyder unveiled a wide-ranging policy initiative on criminal justice in which he called for measures to send fewer people to prison and to assure that ex-convicts are able to get jobs and contribute to society.”

"We should allocate our resources to address the root causes of criminal behavior, such as mental health issues, substance abuse, child neglect and truancy, which can prevent crimes from happening in the first place," Snyder said.



We the people must confront the system. Let's make this struggle a victory for all!

Rev. Pinkney

Thursday, June 18, 2015

NAACP: The Poverty Pimps

by Pati

I attended a NAACP meeting last night, against my better judgment. I totally see why Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and so many others had nothing to do with this group. The group is nothing but a poverty pimp that exploits the black community.

I was a member under the leadership of Rev. Edward Pinkney and during the hostile takeover by Whirlpool Corporation, state president Evan White, and national president Ben Jealous.

At last night's meeting, Larry Feldman (a psychiatrist) claimed that Rev. Pinkney was removed because of lack of activity. The only time the Benton Harbor Chapter was active was when Rev. Pinkney was in leadership! The NAACP do not do anything now. They are worthless.

The Vice President Charles Jenning said they (NAACP) must be careful because Whirlpool has been generous enough to provide the building. This blood sucking bullie has done so much damage to Benton Harbor and its people through gentrification.

I would rather hold a meeting at my house than accept anything from Whirlpool. Maybe I am not seeing this right, but this makes about as much sense as a slave asking his master for his wagon to run away. Why would anyone go to Whirlpool for anything?

I left a little early, just could not take the B.S. any more, but I did express my thoughts as I parted, telling them I do not associate with spineless jelly fish who are led by Whirlpool and that all the fence riders weren't for me. I suggested they get a backbone among other things. I will not join or endorse this group ever!

How to deal with criminal corporations

By Peter Brown        June 2015

OAKLAND, CA — In 2010, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) destroyed part of San Bruno, CA, when a main gas line exploded.  Since then, weekly reports have documented PG&E’s profiteering, mismanagement, and outright criminality.  Pipelines weren’t maintained, weren’t checked, weren’t even up to state standards when installed; reports are “missing” or destroyed.  Pipelines are over-pressured without warning, warnings by PG&E’s own workers are ignored.  Even worse, it’s widespread, not just local.  The company’s response is a PR campaign claiming they’ve “lost their way”.  Really? The same company made notorious in “Erin Brockovich”?
Was there a shareholder revolt, demanding that PG&E transform its criminal ways?  Not a peep.
What has our government’s response been?  The California Public Utilities Commission has covered up and protected PG&E’s ability to maintain profits, at the expense of the public it was charged to protect.
And what would be the response of a government dedicated to protecting the people from the corporations?
Revoke PG&E’s Corporate Charter, seize its assets, and operate it as a public resource.
This is a power government has held from the beginnings of our country.  The corporate charter is what allows the corporation to exist, and can be revoked.  Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson and others argued that corporations should hang by a thread.
And is PG&E the only corporation in need of such dire treatment?  Hardly: the corporate world is rife with criminal behavior.  The new economy driven by the electronic revolution has permanently unhinged capital from productive activity.  It will never return to “the good old days”.
The situation we face demands this: that the resources we all need should be under public, democratic control, so that the public can operate them differently.  It will require a government committed to the needs of the 99.9% of us who must work to live, the working class.
Will our corporate government as it currently exists do this for us?  It is na├»ve to expect that this government will turn around and defend us.  But to create one that does, we must expect that our government should defend us.
It’s not enough just to pressure or influence our government, or to “scare” corporations into behaving better.  We need to take control away from the corporations and create a completely new kind of economic system with a new kind of government.  It must be organized to insure we can all make our contributions to this world, and all have equal access to the sustainable, abundant resources needed to live decent lives.
Taking control of our government can only be accomplished by a nationally organized effort based on a unified platform representing just one thing: the needs of all people, and not corporations.
Imagine the world we can create when we unite for that task, bringing together the huge number of organizations we already have within our national community.
We are told we have no rights which corporations are bound to respect.  It’s time to turn that around; corporations have no rights which the people are bound to respect.
http://peoplestribune.org/pt-news/2015/06/how-to-deal-with-criminal-corporations/

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Harbor Shores: The Land Stolen by Whirlpool is Losing Big Money!

June 2015

The golf club and Jack Nicklaus signature golf course at Harbor Shores is losing money, and a lot of money. Harbor Shores Development President Jeff Noel said that the course is where they expected to be, losing a lot of money. He cited the lingering challenges in golf operations and demand nationally and in Michigan as the problems.

Benton Harbor City Manager Darwin Watson, one of the Whirlpool puppets, reported to the City Commission recently that the golf course had an operative income of negative $911,506 last year.

The Harbor Shores lease agreement with the City states that it pays $5,000, or 20% of its annual operating income, to the City of Benton Harbor. As of today, the City of Benton Harbor has received nothing. Noel also added that the City benefits from property taxes as a result of the development, but as of today the City has received no benefits.

Noel said that operating the four-star golf course, which opened the summer of 2010, isn't cheap, plus there are some community costs that other golf courses don't have. For example, he said Harbor Shores pays $200,000 a year to maintain Jean Klock Park because it has the 6th, 7th, and 8th golf holes in the Park, but as of today that money has not been paid.

Noel, who is also Vice President of Communications at Whirlpool Corp., said the course is on track to break even by 2016 if they do not have to pay Benton Harbor any public costs and taxes. They do not have to pay any water bills, so that saves them millions. He said that Harbor Shores is "very satisfied" with the golf operations and that costs are coming down.

Harbor Shores does not want the course to be part of the community until gentrification has been completed. Harbor Shores course conditions were ranked as the lowest in the Midwest, according to survey feedback.

According to Rev. Pinkney, Whirlpool and other corporations began transitioning the area from an industrial economy to a tourist, real estate, and service-based economy. This process has prompted resistance from the people of Benton Harbor. That resistance prompted a political attack on the people by Whirlpool and its local political machine.

Rev. Pinkney: "Let's make this struggle a victory for all who are victims of the economic crisis in every city and town in America. We can win!"

-Rev. Pinkney

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Corruption Rolls On!

In the criminal (in)justice system in Berrien County Judge Schrock says that prison would do white people no good. 

There is no racial equality in our criminal justice system, including the judicial and the prosecutorial decision making.

A recent review by the Vera Institute of Justice found significant evidence that even after controlling for both legal and extra-legal factors, minority defendants are more likely than white defendants accused of similar crimes to be prosecuted, to be held in pretrial detention, to receive higher bail, and to be sent to prison. This is especially true in Berrien County, Michigan.

Another study, by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, found that black men receive sentences that are, on average, 30 percent longer than those given to white men found guilty of committing the same crimes. In some cases the differences are much greater, including those instances when black men are sentenced to prison while white men are granted probation and community service.

I can give one example. A white young boy murdered his step-father by beating him to death and Judge Sterling Schrock gave him probation. He said prison would do him "no good." On the very same day, a young black boy who had killed a white man was given life without the possibility of parole, plus an extra ten years. Then another young man was given 15 years in the same case. He had nothing to do with the murder, and was only seen on tape speaking to the boy. Then a very young girl, only 16 years old, who was also seen speaking to the boy, was given 10 years in prison.

A separate report from the Sentencing Project found that young black defendants were 48% more likely to be sentenced to prison than were young white defendants convicted of the same crime.

These findings are deeply disturbing. Racial differences are not supposed to influence the decisions made by prosecutors and judges, but they clearly do. The judges and prosecutors in Berrien County are rogue. They ignore the law and evidence and base their decision on unrevealed, deeply-held prejudices, not on a desire to achieve a just, fair, moral outcome.

Berrien County prosecutors and judges are racist, including in their decisions on whether or not to prosecute, what charges to bring, and length of sentence.

The first step is to start sending judges and prosecutors to prison. We must say enough is enough.

Rev. Pinkney

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Forensic Is a Fraud

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI have formally acknowledged that 26 of 28 examiners in the FBI's Laboratory Unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence in the two-decade period before 2000. The testimony overstated forensic evidence in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95% of 268 trials reviewed so far. There are many cases where the forensic expert overstates the evidence or just outright lies.

This information was provided by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Innocence Project, both of which are assisting with the post-conviction review of questioned evidence, under their agreement with the government. They were to release findings after reviewing the first 200 convictions. Of the cases reviewed, 33 resulted in death sentences and 9 of those defendants have been executed. 5 died of unknown causes while on death row. 4 defendants were previously exonerated.

In Rev. Edward Pinkney's trial, forensic expert Sgt. Goff could only say that two inks were used on the recall petitions. He claimed somebody changed the dates in the middle of the page, which makes no sense at all, on two recall petitions. Sgt. Goff, who is nothing but a hired gun for the prosecutor, overstated the evidence in a way that favored the prosecutor. This is another case where the forensic expert overstated the evidence.

Forensic evidence is evidence used in court, evidence arrived at by scientific means. The problem is that over 90% of the time the forensic expert overstates the evidence or fabricates evidence in favor of the prosecutor.

In order for a trial court to submit a case to the jury on an aiding and abetting theory, there must be constitutionally sufficient evidence that a person other than Rev. Pinkney committed the crime as principal and that Rev. Pinkney aided and abetted that person. Although there was not sufficient evidence to allow charges to be submitted to the jury on an aiding and abetting theory, Berrien County Trial Court committed a critical error by giving an aiding and abetting instruction to the all-white jury, motivated by something other than the truth. This conviction must be reversed.

The Berrien County (in)justice system is nothing but a criminal enterprise which has been operating for years in Berrien County, with a group of criminals running the system. We must stand up to them and say enough is enough!

-Rev. Pinkney

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Urgent: From Italy to Benton Harbor, the Same Struggle Against Whirlpool

Judge Ferdinando Imposimato, Honorary President of Italy’s Supreme Court, Is First Signatory of Call to Support Italian Metal Workers Striking Whirlpool on June 12 to Keep Their Jobs and Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, Michigan, Fighting to Free a Whirlpool Company Town

From Varese, Italy to Benton Harbor, Michigan: The Same Struggle Against Whirlpool

Webster G. Tarpley, Ph.D.
TARPLEY.net
June 12, 2015
Ferdinando Imposimato


Having examined a summary of the legal action against Reverend Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, Michigan (USA), I feel the duty to express my gravest concern about abuses of civil and human rights against this of this minister of the gospel, who is at the same time the main leader of popular resistance against the anti-freedom regime imposed in that area by the multinational corporation Whirlpool, which has its world headquarters precisely in Benton Harbor.

Whirlpool represents the largest appliance company in the Western world. Pinkney was indicted with the accusation of having forged the dates of a few signatures on petitions circulated to recall Mayor Hightower, a Whirlpool ally, and force him to justify his behavior in office before the voters through the device of calling an early election. Pinkney was sentenced to up to 10 years’ imprisonment, despite the absolute absence of any proof against him. Normally, according to Michigan law, this entire matter would have been considered a misdemeanor, but in order to take down Pinkney, the head of the opposition in the city, this charge was inflated to the level of being an extremely serious felony. In addition, Pinkney’s trial was polluted by so many intrigues among the judge, the sheriff, the county officials, and a member of the jury who committed perjury, all of which makes Pinkney’s conviction invalid, and requires that it be struck down, in my opinion.

In recent days, I have seen the beginnings in Italy of that same process of urban degradation and economic impoverishment which has ruined the city of Benton Harbor. In recent years, Whirlpool has bought up large chunks of our splendid Italian appliance industry, including especially the appliance manufacturer Indesit. Now, Whirlpool executives have issued a proclamation from Benton Harbor announcing with absolute arrogance that they intend to wipe out about 2,000 jobs, which means more than a third of the current personnel of the Italian branch of Whirlpool. This mass firing would be a devastating blow for Varese, Caserta, Turin, Naples, Siena, and the other Italian cities which Whirlpool is targeting.

We have to ask ourselves if Whirlpool is trying to drive these Italian cities down to the same level of plantations of despair which we observe today in Benton Harbor. God forbid!

I therefore call on the Italian government to intervene to protect these jobs in our country. The Italian government should call in the American ambassador in Rome and demand explanations about the Pinkney case, emphatically reminding him that the United States, as signatories along with Italy of the Final Act of the Helsinki Treaty (1975) are required to respect human rights and civil rights, with voting rights at the top of the list — meaning exactly the right which Reverend Pinckney was attempting to exercise.

Ferdinando Imposimato, Honorary President of the Supreme Court of Italy, anti-terror and anti-Mafia investigator, former candidate for President of the Italian Republic

http://tarpley.net/judge-ferdinando-imposimato-first-signatory-to-support-italian-metal-workers-and-rev-pinkney/

Monday, June 08, 2015

Innocent and still in prison: Rev. Pinkney on Mass Incarceration

Rev. Pinkney appreciates all mail.  Any length, any topic!

Rev. Edward Pinkney
Lakeland Prison
Rev. Edward Pinkney # 294671
141 First Street
Coldwater, Michigan 49036

Incarceration facts from 2013 still relevant:                                           An Introduction to Rev. Pinkneys article
- The U.S. prison population is more than 2.4 million.
- That's more than quadrupled since 1980.
- That means more than one out of every 100 American adults is behind bars.
- About 14 percent of the prison population is in federal prison -- that's the group Holder is talking about.
- The single largest driver in the increase in the federal prison population since 1998 is longer sentences for drug offenders.
- The average inmate in minimum-security federal prison costs $21,000 each year. The average inmate in maximum-security federal prisons costs $33,000 each year.
- Federal prison costs are expected to rise to 30 percent of the Department of Justice's budget by 2020 .
-  Sens. Dick Durbin, Pat Leahy, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul have all endorsed legislation to give federal judges more flexibility when sentencing non-violent offenders. Holder backs the bill, too.
- The most serious charge against 51 percent of those inmates is a drug offense. Only four percent are in for robbery and only one percent are in for homicide.
- The most serious charge against 20 percent of state-prison inmates is a drug offense. That's much lower than the 51 percent in federal prisons, though it's still larger than any other single category of offense in state prisons.
- At least 17 states are currently experimenting with Holder-like reforms.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/08/13/wonkbook-11-facts-about-americas-prison-population/



Mass Incarceration

According to the New York Times, the US prison population has quadrupled to 25 million.  It is the largest prison population in the world and is 5 to 10 times the incarceration rate of other "democracies."  More than half of state prisoners are serving time for nonviolent offenses;  one in nine is serving a life sentence.

Mass incarceration is often viewed in three major categories:  reducing the number of people entering prison, reducing the length of time persons remain in prison, and reducing the number of people who return to prison.

There are many ways to approach the problem:  1. stop discriminating against people of color.  2. change sentencing guidelines to stress restorative justice  3. provide alternatives to incarceration - and not just for the whites, but for everyone.  We must improve our legal defense system which is ranked one of the worst in the country.  We must hold officials accountable for their action and inaction of wrongdoing.  We must ensure that all eligible persons have access to problem-solving courts (drug, mental health, and vets) and reduce wrongful convictions.  Berrien County leads in wrongful convictions only because there are no check and balances in place.  The judges and prosecutors are the main criminals involved.  We must initiate presumptive parole and truth in sentencing, and implement good time to all prisoners.  When Michigan’s truth in sentencing law was enacted, it went further than nearly every other state in the country.  Instead of requiring people to serve 75% of the minimum sentence in a prison, Michigan requires someone to serve 100% of the minimum sentence in a secure facility.

During Gov. Granholm’s administration, a bill was introduced that would have reinstated good time, allowing someone to be paroled prior to the earliest release date, making Michigan consistent with most other states.  The bill, which was supported by the Dept. of Corrections and opposed by the corrupt prosecutor, did not get through the legislature.  It is time to reconsider reinstating good time.  

We must do something about the high rate of incarceration in Berrien County and the country.  We cannot do it without your help.  We must say enough is enough.  American hypocricy has no limit!

Rev. Pinkney



Monday, June 01, 2015

“We have to educate the people,” says Rev. Pinkney from prison



By Rev. Edward Pinkney

Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate in 2012, speaking at rally to Free Pinkney outside Berrien County Courthouse.
PHOTO/SANDY REID, PEOPLE’S TRIBUNE
I want to talk about the hearing on April 14. It was a major victory for us. We exposed a corrupt system. It showed they will do anything to crush you. They will lie, cheat, even kill, if necessary. We, the people, had the opportunity to actually see them in operation. The judge and the prosecutor work hand in hand with one goal: to keep me in prison for a crime that was never committed.
We’re dealing with people, government and the corporations—all working together. It is a true example of fascism. Nobody would believe that they would go to such extremes to keep the people down. It’s the rich against poor, the haves against the have-nots.
We must continue to fight this battle until the people understand. We must start educating the people so they will know exactly what to do. This is not conflict. We are at war. We must continue this fight until we win. There are more of us than them.
The problem is we are not educating the people enough so they can stand up and fight for what is right. Even here at Lakeland Correctional Facility, the people have been beat down so low they can hardly walk around with their head up. The medical conditions are unheard of. Michigan does not have a death penalty, but if you get sick here, you have almost a 75% chance of dying. I can’t imagine anything worse than being in prison. The conditions are unheard of. Food has been served with rocks and bugs in it. They have thrown food in the garbage and served it to the prisoners.  Nobody deserves the cruel and unusual punishment that the people are receiving.
The poverty in the country and the prison system is going to get worse before it gets better unless the people around the country take a stand and say, “no more.”
We must continue to fight for each and every one and educate them on the things they need to know. We only get information that they want to give us. We have to reach out to other sections of the population falling into poverty. We have to get out newspapers like the People’s Tribune to help motivate us and take us to a whole different level.
The fight has just begun. We have no intention of stopping. Enough is enough.
Oh my friends, if there is one thing we must see today, it is that these are revolutionary times. All over the world, men and women, as never before, are rising up against the old systems of exploitation and oppression. Out of the wounds of a frail world, a new system of justice and equality will be born.
I speak out against injustice, not in anger, but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and above all, with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as a moral example to the world.
We must stand together, Black, White, Red, Brown, and all others.

We encourage reproduction of this article so long as you credit the source.
Copyright © 2015 People's Tribune. Visit us at http://peoplestribune.org

http://peoplestribune.org/pt-news/2015/05/we-have-to-educate-the-people-says-rev-pinkney-from-prison/