Thursday, July 30, 2015

Real Life Ann Arbor Area Police Stories (Updated)

Real Life A2 Area Police Stories 

All occurred within the last 9 or so years.
Details not known beyond what’s here.
If I know of this many incidences, there must be many more.

Ann Arbor Police

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--On Thursday August 11, 2016 I was stopped on Dexter at a red light, Malleck’s gas station on my right.  A small, beat up car with a very young black female driver followed by an A2 Police SUV came from the opposite direction and turned onto Revena.  They immediately parked and so I decided to observe.  When I could I took a left, parked, and watched from my car.  (should have gotten out and gotten close)  Just knowing what little I knew at this point gave me every reason to be suspicious.  It didn’t look like the white cop ticketed her, but he did at one point take some papers from her and went to his car for awhile.  When the incident was over, I was afraid to follow her right away - I waited a couple min. and drove away.  Amazingly, I found her on Arbana, parked and using her phone.  I talked with her, she was very nice, and I found out he had no right to stop her.  His stated reason was an out-of-date sticker on her license plate.  I told her I’d check it for her — it was white and said July ’17.  She said her birthday was in July.  He used this phony traffic stop to check out her car insurance which was also up to date.  Too bad for him, he had to let her go.  Just another police ‘fishing expedition.’

--In early August 2016, a white friend who’s a UoM professor of many years said when her son was in high school he was walking around downtown smoking a cigarette.  Two A2 cops walked up to him, asked him why he was smoking, and slammed him into a car.  This friend commented that when one is with a group of A2 parents and brings up a story like this is when it all comes out: many teenagers are mistreated by A2 cops.


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

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

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

--A student said he was walking to a party and was yelled at by officers and interrogated for no reason.  They said he “fit the description of…”

--A student said she and some friends were walking to a party. Officers stopped she and her friends and brought a dog out of the car.  I couldn’t hear part of the story but the cops shut the party down at around 11pm. She said she hates walking around with a “target on her back.”  

Campus Police
(Same ‘cop culture’ as AAPD and the rest of the country.  Now UoM has Chief Seto who was the A2 chief for many years.)

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

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

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

—On Thursday May 26, 2016 I attended a fundraiser at Dominick’s restaurant in A2.
Upon leaving, I noticed a black woman I’d met at the event on the street in her car with a UM police SUV, lights flashing, behind her.  Her friend, observing from the sidewalk, told me she was stopped for putting on her seatbelt while starting to leave her parking space. I leaned in the car and the woman told me that the first thing the white cop asked her was, “Is this your car?”  The friend recruited others (1 or 2 attorneys from the fundraiser) to also observe.  She was given a ticket.  I was told some weeks later that she had to go to court and paid a stiff fine.  As a white person with an unfortunate speeding history, I can say that not one cop has ever asked me the question, “Is this your car.”

From a trusted friend, 30ish adjunct UoM prof.

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

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

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

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

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

Related

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

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

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


Fleeting Observations

White male AAPD cop stopped black mother
and child on 5th downtown near liberty.
8/27/16

A friend saw a white AAPD cop put a very young Af-Am boy in handcuffs at Arborland.  8/26/16

Ypsilanti In-the-Field

August 28

--White young man working in area:  "I was away for a few yrs. and when i returned I noticed there are a lot more cops in Ypsi.  I’m riding a bike, trying to get my license back."

--Af-Am man, maybe age 30, washing car at car wash.  YPD has been regularly stopping people at the Speedway intersection since the end of 2015, about every other day, weekends, too.  2-3 cars.  10-11am and other times. “There’s nothing we can do. They’re the cops.”

--House kitty-corner from Speedway - woman says heavy cop presence is due to extra lanes added for turning have caused many, many accidents.  A couple officers park off-road on Mich. Ave.





Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Pinkney jailed for being a spokesperson for the poor

From the editors of the People’s Tribune

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 27, 2015

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
from Benton Harbor BANCO (Black Autonomy Network Community Organization)

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

http://bhbanco.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Prosecutorial Misconduct

Rev. Edward Pinkney was charged under MCL 168.937 with five felony counts of forgery. These were based on allegations that he altered dates next to signatures on petitions to recall Benton Harbor puppet mayor James Hightower. He was also charged under the same statute with six misdemeanor counts of falsely certifying petitions for the recall of Hgihtower by indicating that no person had signed the petitions more than once.

Rev. Pinkney was convicted of all the felony forgery counts by a rogue jury, and was motivated by something other than the truth. This jury ignored the law and evidence in reaching a capricious verdict. The jury based their verdict on unrevealed prejudices. This rogue jury verdict was not based on a desire to have a fair, just, or moral outcome.

After a two-day jury selection, the prosecutor presented absolutely no direct evidence in over three days of trial. Here is a summary of the prosecutor's case regarding the felony counts:

  • The general circumstances and procedures by which the petition for the recall of Hightower was approved, along with the general procedural requirements for recall petitions.
  • Testimony from many petition circulators regarding their activities circulating petitions and about Rev. Pinkney's political activism in relation to not only the recall, but also other political and social matters in Berrien County. The petitions circulated by these persons were not the subject of the charges.
  • Testimony from Mark Goff, a forensic documents examiner from the Michigan State Police, who testified that it appeared dates were changed on some of the recall petitions but expressed no opinion as to who made the changes. He specified that he could not state that Rev. Pinkney made the alleged changes. Goff provided this testimony in relation to the petitions that were the subject of the five felony counts and which Pinkney certified as having circulated.
  • Testimony from persons, including County Clerk Sharon Tyler and Mayor Hightower, regarding Rev. Pinkney's political activity and his opposition to certain politicians and the local company, Whirlpool. This testimony included matters that were controversial in the community and which were not directly related to the Hightower recall. It also included several efforts to recall Tyler herself after the recall petitions in question were allegedly forged and turned into the County Clerk Office, and even after charges were brought against Rev. Pinkney. 
The prosecutor claimed this "evidence" was admissible under MRE 404 to prove motive to forge the petitions to recall Hightower. The defense objected on state law grounds under MRE 404(b) and under the First Amendment. Prosecutor Sepic violated the Michigan Rules of Evidence, the First Amendment of the US Constitution, and due process by introducing evidence of Rev. Pinkney's protected speech, political activity, and community activity. It was prosecutorial misconduct and he must be held accountable for his actions. This Berrien County courthouse does not bend toward justice, but rather bows to the masters of consolidated corporate capital.

We must stand together and fight the criminal enterprise not only in Berrien County, but around the world!

-Rev. Pinkney

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

“We are all here together” says Benton Harbor activist

Old car backfires so Benton Harbor police 
unload 137 bullets into it


By Pati Heinz

pt.2015.07.12.patiHeinz
Pati Heinz, Benton Harbor activist.
(photo donated)

BENTON HARBOR, MI —  In 2012, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams from Cleveland, Ohio, were driving in their older model car, in need of repair, when it backfired. A nearby officer radioed in, “Shots fired!” What happened next is a nightmare. Mr. Russell looked in his rearview mirror to see a mass of police chasing after him and his companion, Ms. Williams. Not only were they chased, but they were fired upon. In total, 137 shots were unloaded into their car by Officer Michael Brelo and 112 other officers. In May, 2015, Judge John O’Donnell found Brelo not guilty of manslaughter.
Should being poor mean a death sentence? No! But, more and more, our legislature, law-enforcement, courts, and even society, works against those who are less fortunate. Cities across America have laws prohibiting feeding or helping those in need. That goes against what we are taught as children, and against what the human conscience feels toward others.
As citizens, we must stand up and speak out, especially at the polls. We must push our legislators to do the right thing and when they don’t, call them out on it! We cannot afford to be complacent with the brutality so many are faced with. I believe police brutality is just another arm of the GENTRIFICATION BEAST. The courts and law enforcement are engaged in this process via the school-to-prison pipeline, sentencing above and beyond guidelines, and the all too often police brutality. This is the most drastic and damaging act of gentrification that yields death and devastation.
The mainstream media likes the ratings that come from pushing the racial issue, but this war is really against anyone who isn’t the 1%, or their “friends”. This war is against people of ALL colors, especially if you are poor and outspoken, as Rev. Pinkney is. The system wants to keep people from uniting, and sharing knowledge, because together, we are powerful.
I am in this fight for ALL people’s freedoms and rights, and I would love to see all people engage in this for themselves, their children, and fellow man. We are all here together. It only makes sense to stand united. As Martin Luther King said, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.”

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/2015/07/we-are-all-here-together-says-benton-harbor-activist/

Monday, July 20, 2015

Court Action for Immediate Release of Wrongly Jailed Benton Harbor Faith Leader, Activist

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEfrom Benton Harbor BANCO (Black Autonomy Network Community Organization)Contacts: (call 269-925-001 for contact information) 
David Sole
Joe Peery

http://bhbanco.org

Court Action for Immediate Release of Wrongly Jailed Benton Harbor Faith Leader, Activist
Constitutional rights violations alleged in case of Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor

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

A veteran community activist from Benton Harbor, Pinkney was convicted last November on five felony counts of forgery based on allegations that he changed five dates on a petition intended to recall Mayor James Hightower. Currently in Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater, he maintains his innocence and faces 30 to 120 months in prison. If successful, the issues of his appeal would prevent retrial on grounds of double jeopardy. Pinkney has already spent nearly seven months in prison since his sentencing last December.

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Fundraiser/Publicity T-shirts

Fundraiser/Publicity T-shirts are white in sizes M, L, XL, and 2X. 
Donation is $10 and $3 for shipping. 
Payment can be made at Moratorium-MI.org or 
checks can be sent to Moratorium NOW, 5920 2nd Ave., Detroit MI 48202

Saturday, July 18, 2015

You can't train a racist mind not to be racist, but it's all about class!

It is not possible to train a racist not to be racist. The origin of the police in the U.S. was in slave catchers hired to apprehend Black slaves and return them to their masters. It is not all about racism, it is also about class. The police have not been trained to serve and protect Black people, other people of color, and poor white people.

Slave labor made America rich. Blacks have fought in every war, only to be lynched in their uniform as they returned to the shores of this country. The wealth of this country is forged out of the destruction and oppression of Black bodies that will never enjoy freedom here.

Blacks are shot down almost daily by cops. The government is too weak and corrupt to protect the lives of Black people and the poor in America. Black lives do matter!

How long are we going to live under tyranny and continue to pass on the legacy of cowardice to our children? How long will you continue to suffer? And when somebody is bold enough to speak truth to power and you get frightened, what are you afraid of? We must stand together.

We must never let fleeting wealth and ever-fleeting fame stop us from seeing the plantation. The Europeans owned the acres of land that they would not work, but found it easy to own the ships that brought our fore-fathers out of Africa. Slavery made America rich. Slavery never made us rich.

Our education system is training our Black children to keep Blacks in a slave box as Black neighborhoods don't provide goods and services for themselves, are exploited, and receive the worst products and services from those who provide good services to many whites. The law is expanded against Blacks and poor whites, as whites in power use the criminal justice system to punish those as it wishes without regard for justice. The promise of justice and equality have not been met.

Mr. J.B. Stoner, the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, said in a letter one day that the KKK would relinquish wearing its white-hooded sheets in exchange for black judges robes, three-piece suits for prosecutors and other elected officials, or the blue/brown police officer uniforms. They would be influential in other areas of power with the same white supremacist and racist mindset toward Black people. You can't train a racist mind to not be racist. The white-dominated society is more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.

We are asking America to be true to the huge promissory note that it signed years ago. We never stopped to realize that no other ethnic group has been enslaved en masse on American soil. It is alright to tell a man to lift himself up by his own bootstraps, but it is a cruel jest to say that to a bootless man. Only in America, the land of the free and home of the brave.

We the people must come together. The revolution is NOW.

-Rev. Pinkney

Thursday, July 16, 2015

New BayView article

Rev. Pinkney, hero of Benton Harbor, speaks from prison

June 25, 2015
by Rev. Edward Pinkney
If we assume that life is worth living and that man has a right to survive, I will say the body of assorted judges, prosecutors and politicians must be held accountable for their wrongdoing – their action and inaction. We must find a right alternative to injustice in America.
Rev. Edward Pinkney and his wife, Dorothy Pinkney shortly before his incarceration
Rev. Edward Pinkney and his wife, Dorothy Pinkney shortly before his incarceration
In a day when drones hurtle through the air and guided ballistic missiles carve highways of death, destroy God’s green earth and his children, we must say “No more!” to injustice. We have never achieved anything in this life from the oppressor. We haven’t made a single gain from the oppressor without the confrontation of power to power.
I am calling for a rebirth of America itself. Considering the nation’s initial birth, with its genocidal treatment of Native Americans and inhumane enslavement of African Americans and poor whites, we the people must re-examine the country – the land of the free and the home of the brave.
We must come together and stand up and fight back – Blacks, poor whites, brown, red, yellow, everyone. We the people must come together!
I am not asking but demanding that we re-examine our economic priorities. I insist that budgets are moral documents. It is transparently immoral to pay the outrageous price of a reckless military adventure while cutting out the heart of our domestic social programs.

If we assume that life is worth living and that man has a right to survive, I will say the body of assorted judges, prosecutors and politicians must be held accountable for their wrongdoing – their action and inaction. We must find a right alternative to injustice in America.

Martin Luther King said, “Bombs being dropped in foreign countries and around the world are landing in Black neighborhoods in all of America.”
In Berrien County, Michigan (where the historic, Black town of Benton Harbor has become a “company town” for the Whirlpool Corp., which controls the politics and has been trying to drive out the Black population, focusing its powerful wrath on Rev. Pinkney), we have the rogue justice system led by the rogue prosecutor Mike Sepic, a person who ignores the laws and evidence when prosecuting Blacks and poor whites in many cases.
Mike Sepic bases his decisions on unrevealed, deeply held prejudices, which result in inappropriate punishment and convictions. His actions are not based on a desire to achieve a just, fair or moral outcome. Sepic intentionally charged me with a more serious crime to seek a more severe penalty than was proper for my lawful exercise of a constitutional right (Rev. Pinkney was charged with vote fraud and convicted with zero evidence).
An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society. The public confidence in the judiciary was eroded by irresponsible and improper conduct by Judge Sterling Schrock and prosecutor Mike Sepic. Judge Schrock failed to avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety. He failed to respect and observe the law during my trial.

An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society.

I believe that unarmed and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why truth temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Let’s stand together and fight back. We can win!
Send our brother some love and light: Rev. Edward Pinkney, 294671, Lakeland Correctional Facility, 141 First St., Coldwater MI 49036.

Michigan’s No. 1 political prisoner

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.

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.

By imprisoning Pinkney, the officials of Berrien County and their corporate master, Whirlpool, hope to intimidate, subdue and silence the people of Benton Harbor.

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.
Learn more about the struggles in Benton Harbor and Black Autonomy Network Community Organization’s campaigns for justice, at http://pinkneycentral.weebly.com/info.html and http://bhbanco.org.
Boycott Whirlpool and subsidiaries Amana, Estate, Gladiator Garage Works, Insperience, Jenn-Air, KitchenAid, Magic Chef, Maytag, Roper, Acros, Inglis, Bauknecht, Brastemp, Admiral, IKEA appliances and some Kenmore.
Donate, help raise funds, hold a fundraiser. Dorothy Pinkney is paying about $300 per month just for phone calls, commissary expenses and visiting. Case expenses run to the hundreds and thousands of dollars, before attorney fees. The court compelled Rev. Pinkney to pay restitution to the mayor of Benton Harbor, the target of the recall petition.
Dorothy says, “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.



Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Constitutional Rights Violations Alleged in Case of Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, MI

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
from Benton Harbor BANCO (Black Autonomy Network Community Organization)

Contacts:
(email banco9342@sbcglobal.net for contact information) 
David Sole
Joe Peery
http://bhbanco.org

Constitutional Rights Violations Alleged in Case of Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, MI

Grand Rapids, Michigan, July 14, 2015 — Last Monday an appeal bond motion was filed in the Michigan Court of Appeals, District III (Grand Rapids), on behalf of Rev. Edward Pinkney, 66. In the accompanying brief, the defense argued that the trial court in Berrien County violated Pinkney’s constitutional and due process rights. Supporters of Pinkney are calling for his immediate release on bond pending appeal.

A veteran community activist from Benton Harbor, Pinkney was convicted last November on five felony counts of forgery based on allegations that he changed five dates on a petition intended to recall Mayor James Hightower. Currently in Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater, he maintains his innocence and faces 30 to 120 months in prison. If successful, the issues of his appeal would prevent retrial on grounds of double jeopardy. Pinkney has already spent nearly seven months in prison since his sentencing last December.

Pinkney’s defense team argued that there was constitutionally insufficient evidence for the conviction. At trial, Mark Goff, a forensic document examiner with the Michigan State Police, testified that changes to the petitions were made in different ink, but he could not determine when the changes were made, by whom, or whether they were changed by the signers themselves. Three witnesses indicated that another person altered the petitions when they were not in Pinkney’s possession and without his knowledge. No witness testimony nor physical evidence supported the charge that Pinkney changed the dates.

Drawing on transcripts of the week-long trial, Pinkney’s defense further argued that Prosecutor Mike Sepic “violated the Michigan Rules of Evidence, the First Amendment, and due process by introducing evidence of Pinkney’s speech, political activity and community activity.” According to the defense, cross-examining Pinkney and other witnesses about these topics violated his constitutional rights of free speech, particularly political speech, under the First Amendment. The defense also argued that Sepic’s failure to provide proper notice before the cross-examination violated Michigan Rules of Evidence. Sepic alleged that the line of questioning pointed to Pinkney’s motive, whereas the defense argued it violated due process by merely attempting to show a propensity by Pinkney to commit the alleged forgeries.

When Pinkney’s attorney objected to this line of cross-examination based on free speech and association concerns, Judge Sterling Schrock asked counsel to approach the bench and stated, “What I am asking you not to do is…using constitutional rights and using things like that” and “There are ways to say that without using that rhetoric which clearly plays on emotions.”

In a recent communication from Coldwater, Pinkney said, “The judge can’t just dismiss constitutional rights by calling them emotional rhetoric. Historically our system was developed to safeguard people from dubious and unjust convictions.”

Pinkney and his supporters believe his human rights activism has made him a target of political persecution by Whirlpool and local governments. In just one recent example, his arrest warrant for non-violent charges was served by a SWAT team that surrounded his home at gunpoint. Such tactics, he says, are designed to intimidate all Benton Harbor residents who speak up against Whirlpool and local officials.

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

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

# # #

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A Visit with Michigan Political Prisoner Rev. Edward Pinkney

Posted on  by Diane Bukowski

Rev. Pinkney campaigns against Whirlpool during PGA tournament in Benton Harbor May 26, 2012.
Rev. Pinkney campaigns against Whirlpool during PGA tournament in Benton Harbor May 26, 2012.
x-default
By David Sole and Marcina Cole
July 6, 2015
Prisoners in Lakeland Correctional Facility yard.
Prisoners in Lakeland Correctional Facility yard.
Coldwater, Mich.  In rural, south central Michigan, several hours from Detroit, sits Lakeland Correctional Facility.
Upon our arrival we noticed the sun reflecting brightly off the triple row of 12-feet-high razorwire, coil fencing surrounding the extensive state prison. After passing through metal detectors, pat-downs and shoe, sock and feet inspections, we entered the visiting room to the warm embrace of the Rev. Edward Pinkney.
Rev. Pinkney, a leading African-American activist in Benton Harbor, Mich., was tried and convicted in late 2014 by an all-white jury for supposedly altering five dates on a recall petition against Benton Harbor’s mayor. Not one shred of evidence was presented that Pinkney committed these alleged acts.
The prosecutor, Michael Sepic, could not produce one witness to say that Rev. Pinkney was the culprit. Judge Sterling R. Schrock allowed Sepic to tell the jury, “You don’t need evidence to convict Mr. Pinkney.”
Rev. Edward Pinkney during earlier visit with Marcina Cole.
Rev. Edward Pinkney during earlier visit with Marcina Cole.
All the prosecutor showed the jury was that Rev. Pinkney was a speaker at press conferences and chaired meetings of his organization, BANCO (Black Autonomy Network Community Organization). That was enough for this gang of racists to convict and sentence him to 2.5 to 10 years in prison.
As we sat and talked, we were amazed at Pinkney’s energy and optimism after six months behind bars. He had petitioned the authorities to be transferred to Lakeland, which is not far from his spouse Dorothy, making visits much easier. Previously he had been at Marquette prison, a 10-hour drive from his home.
But Rev. Pinkney was also somber about his situation. “Lakeland has 1,400 prisoners, and I’d say 70 percent are lifers,” Pinkney told us. “Being here is serious business. Every day is a challenge. Many of these guys have been here 20, 30, 40 or more years. Today ‘life imprisonment’ means just that — they will never get out.”
Helping those ‘who will never get out’
Prison graphicIn his short time among these men, Pinkney has done what he always does — organize and assist people.
“I spend most mornings and afternoons in the law library helping inmates with legal research. Then a group of lifers asked me to help them better organize their group meetings, which I am doing. The Muslim prisoners invited me to speak to their Friday prayer session when they found out about my case and history of activism.”
Rev. Pinkney receives many books and periodicals from supporters. Part of the work we do in the Detroit-based Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shutoffs and the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice is fundraising for his legal appeal. We also send a monthly donation to help pay for his daily phone calls to his spouse. He often calls in to our weekly Monday evening meetings.
Rev. Pinkney is a voracious reader, so we send him one or two books a month and gave him a subscription to Workers World newspaper, which the prison allows in. “I share the books and articles you send me. As soon as I am done they go hand to hand,” he said. He noted that he could use more good reading material.
Sentenced to death in prison.
Sentenced to death in prison.
Pinkney’s activism and kindness have won him the respect and admiration of many of the prisoners, but not all. “I’d say that 90 percent of the prisoners here love me and 10 percent hate me. That 10 percent resent my getting so many visitors, when many of them never get a visit. They resent the many books and letters I get. They resent that I will get out of this prison sooner or later and maybe they won’t.”
This small group of hostile prisoners poses a problem for Rev. Pinkney and could endanger his safety. “I try to avoid confrontations and de-escalate situations. But I don’t let them bully me. Several tense situations have arisen. Everyone here knows what goes on, and some of the Muslim brothers have taken to escorting me through the facility when I am done at the library each day. I told them I could take care of myself, but they insist,” said Pinkney.
“Another danger is that my friends and supporters might take it upon themselves to physically confront those who might threaten me — and that would also drag me into a situation involving the prison authorities. So I have to chill my friends out.”
Don’t sweep this injustice ‘under the rug’
Rev. Pinkney and his wife Dorothy have battled against the Whirlpool Corporation, which has decimated Benton Harbor with job loss and land grabs, for years.
Rev. Pinkney and his wife Dorothy have battled against the Whirlpool Corporation, which has decimated Benton Harbor with job loss and land grabs, for years.
Rev. Pinkney was looking forward to his appeal, which is being filed soon. His hope of getting an appeal bond and going home was strong. He has high hopes that he will be released soon because there was no evidence to convict him of felony crimes. But he also knows that there is a “criminal enterprise in Berrien County” that put him in prison in the first place.
The court officials, Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower and behind them the power of the Whirlpool Corporation headquartered there will be working overtime to try to stop him from returning home. “I am asking all my supporters to get the word out in the next 30 days after the appeal is filed. Get this out to the news media so that this injustice can’t be swept under the rug and the appeals court is forced to deliver justice,” Pinkney urged.
For information on how to help free this political prisoner, visit bhbanco.org.
Send letters (no cards, books or objects — only letters) to Rev. Edward Pinkney #294671, Lakeland Correctional Facility, 141 First St., Coldwater, MI 49036. Send a book to Rev. Pinkney only through Schulerbooks.com using this address and his prisoner number.
Order a “Free Rev. Pinkney” white T-shirt (sizes M, L, XL, 2X, 3X) for a $10 donation plus $3 shipping (proceeds go to his legal expenses) at moratorium-mi.org., or mail your order and payment to Moratorium NOW!, 5920 Second Ave., Detroit, MI 48202.
Also see:
  1. Racist court denies justice for Michigan Civil Rights leader 
  2. Civil rights activist denied appeal bond 
  3. Campaign builds to free Rev. Pinkney 
  4. Rev. Pinkney jailed for fighting racist power structure 
  5. Political prisoner’s health scare ignites mass action 
Related VOD stories:
- See more at: http://voiceofdetroit.net/#sthash.Bl6bqAzN.dpuf