Tuesday, June 20, 2017

How Privilege for Whites in Berrien County Works!

It pays to be white with privileges in Berrien County Trial Court. A court employee, Jessica Holmes, was in a position of authority, an arm of the court. She delivered narcotics to a probationer and also was having sex with him. This cannot be tolerated from an employee of Berrien County trial court. She is not the only one, but white privilege will not allow the court employees to be arrested.

Jessica Holmes, 35 years of age, lives in Eau Claire and was sentenced to only 18 months of probation by Judge John Donahue for delivery of a controlled substance and obstruction of justice. Jessica pleaded guilty in March to these charges. A charge of second degree criminal sexual conduct with a probationer was dismissed.

Jessica Holmes had worked in the court for 16 years and was most recently coordinator of Swift and Sure, a probation program that gives defendants who were on their way to prison a second chance--if you are white.

The charges against Holmes stemmed from a relationship she developed with a probationer after July 11, 2016, the day two court officers were shot and killed by a jail inmate Larry Gordon, who refused to go to trial in Berrien County and decided to have a shoot out rather than go to trial. Joseph Zangaro, head of security, and Ronald Kienzle, a courtroom bailiff, were taken hostage along with Holmes.

Holmes subsequently developed a sexual relationship with a probationer who also had been in the courtroom from which Gordon took hostages. Holmes also delivered a controlled substance to the probationer and obstructed justice by providing him with confidential information related to when he would be drug and alcohol tested for the Swift and Sure program.

The judge sentenced Jessica Holmes to only 120 days on tether with credit for one day served in Berrien County, 18 months probation, and fines and costs of $1,046.

The judge said the case was very difficult: Jessica Holmes was one of us. There have been over fifty members of the elite's club who have violated the law and will continue. White privilege in Berrien County and Berrien County trial court is totally out of control.

The blindfolded lady with the scales of justice no longer exists in Berrien County. The hypocrisy of Berrien County has no limits. We must confront the white privilege club in Berrien County, including the Berrien County trial court.

-Rev. Pinkney

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Marquette Branch Prison Rev. Pinkney Speaks From Prison (Winter 2016)

My fellow comrades, friends, and companions. We have come to a time of testing. We must not fail. Let us close the spring of racial poison.
The United States, police department in every state, in every city, are killing people with war crimes ammunition. Virtually every person shot to death by police handguns in the U.S. in the last 20 years has been killed with a bullet that international law has declared to be a war crime.
The number of people killed by police so far this year topped 800 as the nation-wide epidemic of police violence continued with cops killing 25 people over the last seven days of the year.
The U.S. media largely has ignored the 800 victim milestone, all year with headlines dominated by the attempt to whip up law and order hysteria around things like the massive manhunt to recapture two inmates who escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility in New York.
The 500th fatality of the year according to one database of police killing, occurred, when members of the SWAT team gunned down 69 year old Richard Warolf, a suicidal man, during a courtesy call requested by his family in sun city, a suburb of Phoenix.
The following night, a police officer in Des Moines, Iowa shot and killed unarmed 28 year old Ryan Bollinger through the window of her squad car after a two minute low-speed chase.
The nine other people killed by police since Monday include Matthew Wayne McDaniel, a 35 year old from Florida; Rene Garcia, a 30 year old California man killed during a traffic stop; Mario Ocasio, a 51 year old from New York City, killed by taser; Jeremy John Linhart, 30 year old from Ohio, also killed during a traffic stop; Ross Anthony, 25 from Dallas, killed by a taser, an unknown suicidal 45 year old male from Houston area. Quan Daivver Hicks, 22 year old from Cincinnati; Isaiah Hampton, 19 years old from New York City; An unkown homeless man from Miami shot 5 times by an officer; and Charles Allen Ziegler, 40 years old from Pompano Beach, Florida.
Despite releasing repeated damning reports of systematic violence and corruption in city after city from Cleveland to Ferguson to Baltimore to New York, the Obama administration has steadfastly refused to demand that any of the officers and officials responsible for a patter and practice of brutality be held criminally accountable. We are living in a time, who the public, the people must hold the government accountable for their actions. We must stand up to our government and fight back.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

We Want Our Due and We Want It Now!

An economic system that doesn't feed, clothe, and house its people must be and will be overturned and replaced with a system that meets the needs of the people.
The labor-replacing electronic technology is permanently eliminating jobs and destroying the foundation of the capitalist system. The people's needs can only be met by building a cooperative society where the socially necessary means of production are owned by society, not by the corporations.
As the economic crisis continues to grip America and threatens to get deeper, people in working class communities across the country are beginning to stand up and demand that the government serve the people's interest, not those of the corporations. The people have come under fire from the corporations and the government. This is especially true in the city of Benton Harbor, Michigan.
The struggle that has taken place in recent years in Benton Harbor is a case in point and one that holds a number of lessons for the American people. The fight in Benton Harbor is a war over whether Americans will have prosperity and democracy, or live in poverty, under the heel of open corporate rule.
Former president Bill Clinton hustled the street dealer, sold crack, selling dreams that turned to dust. Their strategy of talk labor while pleasing capital, was even seen in the destructive NAFTA pact, which decimated manufacturing jobs in the U.S. by the millions.
Now Clinton returns posing as a savior of the working class, when their treasured NAFTA ripped away ten-thousand jobs annually, undermined unions and transferred vast wealth to Wall Street.
When Texas businessman and 1992-1996 presidential candidate H. Ross Perot predicted NAFTA would produce a "giant sucking sound" of lost jobs the media pundits laughed at him, making him sound like a fool. But history proves his words were true.
The vicious, cowardly attack on democracy in Benton Harbor that Whirlpool Corporation and the corporate power structure is determined to crush anyone who stands in its way. It is part of a process under way across America in various forms. After the once stable working class community of Benton Harbor was devastated by automation, globalization, and NAFTA; the community began resisting. Let's confront the corporations that are destroying this country. Let's stop the NAFTA. Let's confront the NAFTA.           -Rev. Pinkney

Friday, June 16, 2017

Corrupt Judge Denies New Jury Trial in Rev. Edward Pinkney Case

It is our constitutional duty as American citizens to hold our elected officials accountable for their words, action, and inaction of wrongdoing. We must draw the line and decide what to do. If that line is crossed we must use our Constitution. Most judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officials have crossed the line in the sand many times. It's time for the people: poor whites, blacks and Hispanics, to stand together and fight for what is right.

We must fight for justice for all any time you have a judge like Alfred Butzbaugh, who is a racist. It took over 53 days to render a fifth grade decision denying me a new trial. I am a man of God, and an innocent man, convicted by an all-white jury that violated the sanctity of their oath and were motivated by something other than the pursuit of truth and justice. The blindfolded lady holding the scales of justice no longer exists.

The corruption and the deceitfulness continues in Berrien County courthouse. In my motion for a new trial, I argued that I was charged, but never arraigned, nor did I receive due process by the dumb judge Alfred and prosecutor. I was denied a public trial, when the judge locked the courtroom doors. One of the jurors reported to the court that during the recess, she saw one of Rev. Edward Pinkney's attorneys make a drug deal in the courthouse parking lot. She lied saying several blacks came up to her and her husband and asked for money. She was not removed from the jury. The Berrien County courthouse is so blatantly corrupt that even the legal system, the establishment has been forced to recognize it. It does not provide a just legal system. The corruption starts at the top. They customarily and regularly deprive Blacks and Hispanics of due process.

The corruption and deceitfulness continues in Berrien County courthouse. Judge Butzbaugh has violated his oath. I support the constitution of the United States and the state of Michigan. We are still waiting on this racist judge to do the same. Judge Butzbaugh has failed the people, the community, his duties, and his office.

The Herald Palladium is known as the Herald Pollution, because of all the racist garbage the newspaper writes. The fascist newspaper is the main reason a Black man cannot get a fair trial in the Berrien County trial court. The corruption that exists in the county must be stopped.

When are the people going to take a stand? The challenge is clear. The case of Rev. Pinkney is a concentration of the criminalization of a generation of people. This is not just a black issue, nor is it just a person of color issue. It is a whole country issue. We the people must confront the corrupt legal system at all costs.

The Herald Palladium Does the Work of Nazi Sympathizers

The Herald Palladium newspaper of Berrien County, Michigan, is an enclave with Nazi roots. The newspaper does the work of Nazi sympathizers. Adolf Hitler would be proud of the fascist, racist attitude of the Herald Palladium newspaper.

The Black community in Benton Harbor has always spoken about the fascist Herald Palladium newspaper. Many people in the community refuse to speak about the Herald Palladium, afraid of retaliation.

I have witnessed and I do recall a groundswell of Nazism, cross burning, noose hanging, and swastikas were commonplace, including on some of the houses in Berrien County and especially in St. Joseph, Three Oaks, New Buffalo, Stevensville, and Union City. Many people declined to speak about the racism and fascism on the record, but those who did dispute the cities were taunted by discrimination, intimidation, hatred, even violent attacks, and in some cases arrested and sent to jail or even prison.

The Herald Palladium newspaper is owned by the Paxton family out of the state of Kentucky. The Paxton family has always condoned fascism and racism. The Herald Palladium openly practiced racism for years. The system was psychological and physical at the same time. The Herald Palladium newspaper is part of the system. The Black people of Benton Harbor, Michigan, were taught discipline by the oppressor, which is the establishment, who operate the system that oppresses the people again and again with the idea of their own inferiority to know their place, to see blackness as a sign of subordination, to be awed by the power of the master to merge their interests.

The Paxton family own the fascist Herald Palladium that is operated by the residents of St. Joseph, Michigan. The newspaper is an arm of the Whirlpool Corporation who are known as poverty pimps. The Paxton family's and the Herald Palladium's hypocrisy has no limits. The newspaper has a large credibility gap. Most people would say the newspaper would not know the truth if it would hit them right in the face.

We must see the evils of fascism, racism, economic exploitation and militarism. The Herald Palladium is leading the charge against the people and all three are tied together and you can't really get rid of one without getting rid of all three. We must confront fascism, racism, and hatred at the same time.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Rev. Pinkney Is Free!

After serving his minimum sentence of 30 months (two-and-a-half years), Rev. Pinkney was released from Michigan state prison this Tuesday morning. He is home with his wife, Dorothy, and resting.

Those in the area can welcome Rev. Pinkney home on July 8.

Saturday, July 8
2pm
St. Matthew & St. Joseph Episcopal Church
8850 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI
Dinner will be served (bring a dish if you can)

Financial help is needed - we will present Rev. Pinkney with a Welcome Home check at the Detroit celebration!

Send checks to ~
Moratorium NOW Coalition
5920 Second Ave.
Detroit, MI 48202
(on memo line write: Welcome Home Rev. Pinkney).

Let's give Rev. Pinkney a big welcome home!

Friday, June 02, 2017

Rev. Pinkney’s lawyers speak on recent Michigan Supreme Court Order on Pinkney’s appeal

June 2017 

Editor’s note:  As we go to print, the Michigan Supreme Court has issued an order which Rev. Pinkney’s lawyers discuss below. Please be aware, also of other good news: Rev. Edward Pinkney is scheduled to be released from prison on June 13, after serving 30 months!
“The Order of the Michigan Supreme Court for oral argument on whether prejudicial evidence was admitted at Pinkney’s trial and whether the statute is valid is good news. The first would get hima new trial, which they probably would not pursue because he has already served his sentence. The second would dismiss the charges.” — Hugh M. Davis
“It is clear that the Michigan Supreme Court has shown interest in the two issues it specified in the order. The first issue, involving the introduction [into the trial] of Pinkney’s political and community activities that went beyond the recall effort of the former mayor, should be of great concern to all— even to people who do not support Pinkney and are against his political and social positions. A great deal of that political and community activity was critical of local officials and a local corporation. The use of this First Amendment activity to obtain a conviction is very disturbing.” — Tim Holloway
We encourage reproduction of this article so long as you credit the source.
Copyright © 2017 People's Tribune. Visit us at http://peoplestribune.org

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Rev. Edward Pinkney Will Be Released on June 13!!!

After serving the minimum sentence, 30 months (2-1/2 years), for a crime he never committed, Rev. Edward Pinkney will be released on parole on Tuesday, June 13!

He is in good spirits and looks forward to reuniting with his wife, Dorothy, his community, and supporters.

You can welcome Rev. Pinkney home yourself at a dinner in Detroit on July 8!

Saturday, July 8
2 PM
St. Matthew & St. Joseph Episcopal Church
8850 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI
Dinner will be served (bring a dish if you can)

From the organizers:
We are also collecting funds for a 'Welcome Home Rev. Pinkney' check to be presented to him at that time. Folks can send checks to Moratorium NOW Coalition, 5920 Second Ave., Detroit, MI 48202 (on memo line write Welcome Home Rev. Pinkney).
Let's give Rev. Pinkney a big welcome home from the belly of the beast!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Judge Scott Schoefield of Berrien County tough on crime—gives white veteran break at sentencing

By Rev. Edward Pinkney, 5/15/17
A Berrien County judge on Monday, who is known for being tough on Blacks, handed down a ridiculously light prison sentence to a white man who shot at a semi driver on I94 last September, with the judge singling out the defendant’s military service as the reason for his ridiculously mild sentence. 
Norris pleaded guilty in February to assault with the intent to do great bodily harm, but less than murder, and to the discharge of a firearm from a motor vehicle. Both are ten-year felonies and felony firearm punishable by a mandatory two-year prison term to be served prior to any others. 
Schofield ordered Norris to serve the mandatory two-year term for firing a firearm during the commission of a felony! This is followed by only a one to 10-year sentence for the actual assault charge and only 186 days concurrent for the discharge of a weapon from a motor vehicle: i.e., a drive-by shooting! 
Norris will also get credit on the two-year term for 186 days served in Berrien County jail. He was ordered to pay only $896 in restitution to the trucking company for which the semi driver Shotko was driving. 
Judge Scott Schofield deviated from the sentencing guidelines because Norris is a white man. The sentencing guidelines range from a minimum of 19-38 months for assault with the intent to kill and a minimum of 10-23 months for discharging a weapon. 
The danger Mr. Norris put the public in by his actions is very serious and dangerous. Norris is a danger to the public, but he was given a mere slap on the wrist! Norris also shot at another vehicle on I94 a few miles down the road, but he was given a very, very light sentence. 
The prosecutor and the judge came out to support Norris, who could have killed several people on a major highway in his assault with the intent to kill and discharge of a weapon several times on I94 while traveling over 75 mph in his vehicle. Judges compete to be the toughest on crime, especially when a Black man is involved; therefore, it is extremely unfortunate that Norris was given only a slap on the wrist and was told to not do this anymore!
The people who are financing these elections are largely unconcerned with whatever modest differences exist between candidates on crime, as long as they are tough on crime. When judges fail to impose the most severe punishment, it is overlooked unless the offender is a minority. 
Norris is a white man who received a slap on the wrist by one of the most corrupt judges in Berrien County’s trial court. This is just one of many cases, when it comes to white defendants in Berrien County, that are treated with great leniency. We must lose the chains on the minorities and we must confront the corrupt criminal justice system. 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Progress in Rev. Pinkney's Appeal!

At last, there is some forward motion in Rev. Pinkney's appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court. Last September, Rev. Pinkney's legal team filed an application for leave to appeal his case to the staet supreme court. On Wednesday, the court issued an order granting oral arguments to be made in support of that application.

The court also requested additional briefings on two of the major topics in Rev. Pinkney's appeal. These issues are known as the 404(b) issue and the 168.937 issue. The first issue relates to the misuse of Rev. Pinkney's constitutionally protected political and community activities to influence the verdict, and the second issues relates to the question of whether he was prosecuted under a statute that is actually only a penalty provision, that is, it can't be used to prosecute anyone.

The wheels of justice turn slowly, but this is at least a step in the right direction. Rev. Pinkney's attorney said that most applications for leave to appeal to the supreme court are simply denied. This order indicates that they are interested in hearing more about some of the important issues at stake.

It may be months before the oral arguments are heard, but as soon as they are scheduled, word will go out to pack the courtroom that day!

You can read the order here: http://publicdocs.courts.mi.gov/sct/public/orders/154374_147_01.pdf

The Mother of all bombs

By Rev. Edward Pinkney, 5/16/17
A correct anti-war perspective is not just a moral condemnation of war, but a strategic orientation about how to best resist the drive to imperialism by the United States government. 
Civilian casualties erode America’s morals. The White House ordered U.S. forces to drop one of its largest conventional weapons, known as the “mother of all bombs,” in Afghanistan. The attack came with a major risk of civilian lives which means very little to the United States government that spawns new enemies, fuels insurgencies and diminishes American morals. 
Already, there are indications of a growing number of civilian deaths resulting from the White House bombing campaign. According to some estimates, over 200 people died during the March 17, 2017 air strike in Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. It was potentially the largest single loss of innocent lives in the USA led coalition strike since the fight against the Islamic State began in 2014. The United States government is the biggest bully in the whole wide world.
Airwar.org, a non-profit group, says civilian deaths from coalition air strikes in Iraq and Syria rose from 585 in the last quarter of 2016 to 2,580 in the first quarter of 2017.
The Pentagon is careless about taking such risks seriously when it comes to civilians in Syria—the women and children. There is no military in the entire world that has proven less sensitive to civilian casualties.
War is an ugly business. The world is full of war criminals, like the United States, that destroy innocent lives to advance their ideologies. The United States government’s premise is to target anyone who gets in its way, even if that means the targeting of innocent civilians; this means nothing to our government. 
Another misdirected air strike by the USA led coalition earlier this week killed 18 civilians in Northern Syria. The central command said that the coalition aircraft were given the wrong coordinates. The United States has no regard for the Syrian people.
This is nothing short of criminal betrayal of international solidarity and provides political cover for the American ruling class. The New York Times and other major corporate U.S. news outlets rushed to accuse the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad of being responsible for the scores of people who died from poison gas in Idlib Province, Syria on April 4, 2017.
We have heard this before—remember the weapons of mass destruction! Former President Bush led in these lies about Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. These lies were used to justify the imperialist invasion of Iraq in 2003. 
Republicans and Democrats joined in cheerleading President Trump’s decision to unleash bombing raids on Syria as a reprisal against Assad. The mother of all bombs, the bomb known officially as a GBU 43B or Massive Ordinance Air Blast (MOAB) weapon unleashes 11 tons of explosives! 
We the people must stop this bully who will continue to berate, bully, and bomb countries, including those countries that are incapable of defending themselves. We must confront this bully in our White House at all costs!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Brokennness, but I am still standing!

By Rev. Edward Pinkney, 5/15/17
My many years of struggling against inequality, abusive power, poverty, oppression, and injustice have finally revealed something to me about myself. Being close to suffering, death, and cruel and unusual punishment didn’t just illuminate the brokenness of others, but in a moment of anguish and heartbreak, it also exposed my own brokenness. You cannot effectively fight abusive power, poverty, inequality, illness, oppression, or injustice and not be broken by it.
We are all broken by something. We have all hurt someone and we all have been hurt. We all share the condition of brokenness even if our brokenness is not equivalent. I desperately wanted mercy for the residents of Benton Harbor, and I would have done anything to create justice for my fellow brothers and sisters: black, white, brown, red, yellow and all others. I could not pretend that the people’s struggle was disconnected from my own.
We have a choice. We can embrace our humanness, which means embracing our broken natures, and the compassion that remains is our best hope for healing. Or we can deny our brokenness, forswear compassion and, as a result, deny our own humanity.
I have been threatened, terrorized, wrongly accused and wrongly condemned, but I never gave up. I survived the humiliation of three trials and several different charges against me. I have survived two guilty verdicts and several wrongful condemnations by the State of Michigan. 
While I did not survive without injury or trauma, I still have and will come out with my dignity. I told people that I had overcome what fear, ignorance, and bigotry had done to me.
I stood strong in the face of injustice. This made the rest of us a little safer, slightly more protected from the abuse of power and the false accusations that had almost killed me. I suggested to my friends and family that my strength, resistance and perseverance were a triumph worth celebrating—an accomplishment to be remembered. 
The establishment tortured me, but I am still standing. The establishment told lies about me, but I am still standing. The establishment sent me to prison without any evidence to convict, but I am still standing. The oppressor (the establishment) gave me, in essence, a death penalty, but I am still standing. The all white jury was motivated by something other than the truth, but I am still standing. 

Let’s make this struggle a victory for all who are victims of the corrupt criminal justice system in every city and town in America.  

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Benton Harbor Schools' Former Superintendent, Leonard Seawood, Robbed Taxpayers!

The former Benton Harbor Schools Superintendent, Leonard Seawood, has been charged with two criminal counts related to misappropriation of district funds.

Leonard Seawood, 56 years old of Benton Harbor, a puppet for Whirlpool Corporation and the brother-in-law of former puppet mayor James Hightower, was arraigned on Thursday, April 13, 2017, by Berrien County trial court judge Dennis Wiley on one count of embezzlement of $20,000 to $50,000, and one count of obtaining money by false pretenses of $20,000 to $50,000. The is the vacation payment scheme.

Leonard Seawood was superintendent of schools from July 2010 to October 2015. He took extra vacation day payouts totalling about $45,000 to $200,000 between January 1, 2012, to 2015.

The charge of obtaining money by false pretenses is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The embezzlement charge is punishable by up to 10 years. He is free on a $10,000 ten percent bond with a preliminary hearing set for April 27.

Seawood's lawyer, Heath Lynch of Grand Rapids, asked that Seawood be free on personal recognizance bond. The judge declined the request for a P.R. bond. These are very serious charges and it looks like a huge amount of money is involved, said Wiley.

Seawood appeared in court for a walk-in arraignment and posted the $1,000 required to remain free. He is to have no contact with anyone within Benton Harbor Area Schools and is not to leave the state of Michigan.

The charges against Leonard Seawood relate to a part of his contract which allotted 25 paid vacation days per year and permitted a cash payout for a maximum of five unused days each year. In the criminal complaint, it is alleged Seawood was the chief when it came to vacation payment schemes.

Seawood was suspended by the Board of Education on April 30, 2015, and was forced to resign as part of a separation agreement. Seawood was a puppet for Whirlpool Corporation. He was paid $80,000 in January 2016.

The criminal activity occurred at the Benton Harbor Schools. The community will no longer support Leonard Seawood, James Hightower, and the Whirlpool Corporation. This horrifying act by Seawood, under Whirlpool Corporation's watch, is shameful. It is a darn shame that Whirlpool, who controls the city of Benton Harbor and the school district, failed to have a back bone and actually take a stand on something that really matters to the community.

The Herald Palladium tried to cover up the Seawood payout scheme. This fascist newspaper attempted to cover up the crime. We must continue to stand together and expose the corruption in Berrien County.

-Rev. Edward Pinkney

Thou Shalt Not Kill: When Is it Okay to Kill?

See the interview with Judge Wendell Griffen on Democracy Now!
"Exclusive: Meet the Arkansas Judge Who Faces Impeachment for Protesting Against the Death Penalty"

From KTHV, Little RockThe Arkansas Supreme Court halted the executions of two men originally scheduled to be put to death Monday night, putting another legal roadblock in place in the state's plan to conduct eight lethal injections before its supply of a key drug expires at the end of April.

Justices in a 4-3 decision granted stays Monday afternoon for Don Davis and Bruce Ward. The inmates wanted stays of execution while the U.S. Supreme Court takes up a separate case concerning access to independent mental health experts by defendants. The U.S. high court is set to hold oral arguments on April 24.
KHTVPulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen has issued a temporary restraining order Friday against the state of Arkansas, effectively halting the scheduled executions until further notice.

According to court documents, McKesson Medical-Surgical Incorporated filed the temporary restraining order for an "injuctive relief" and for the state of Arkansas to return its property....


But after issuing the order, Judge Griffen allowed himself to be strapped to a cot during a protest to simulate an inmate being injected. The state high court additionally asked a disciplinary panel to consider whether Griffen violated the judicial code of conduct which could lead to his dismissal as a judge. State prosecutors also contended that Griffen's personal blogs showed bias toward death penalty protesters: "The state plans to use medication designed for treating and healing disease to kill men."

The Bible says, "Thou should not kill." When is it okay to kill another human being?

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Whirlpool ruins lives

Parts of an article, link at end:

...Whirlpool plant in Amiens [France] as “the best example” of how foreign companies in France are shifting production to low-income countries, leaving French workers “high and dry”.

Companies like Whirlpool find it cheaper to shift production to Poland since Polish workers earn less than their French counterparts...

"My colleagues are sad," confirms Jean-Philippe, a Whirlpool worker arriving for the afternoon shift. At 59, he will be entitled to his retirement benefits: "In a way, I got lucky,” he whispers.

Sacrifices included working Saturdays, renouncing overtime benefits and pay hikes for years. "We did everything we could to keep the plant going and we’re ending up on the streets while the company is making profits."

The Michigan-based Whirlpool Corporation is a Fortune 500 company, with an annual revenue of approximately $21 billion. In 2016, the company posted a profit of €850 million.

"You know, my eldest daughter did her internship here and when she saw what it was like to work on the assembly line, she asked me how I had been able to do that for so many years. We have to ask permission to go pee,” says the single mother of two girls.

Anne would like to see the sale of Whirlpool products banned in France: "If you cannot make them in France, I do not see why you should sell them here. It’s logical, isn’t it?"

...a worker earns an average of 1,500 euros in France. In Poland, it’s around 400 to 500 euros, [Whirlpool] can hire three of them for the cost of one French worker.

Five children, one house loan, and two less wages in 2018. They are "a Prima couple”, they explain. “Looking for one job is difficult, forget two."

http://www.france24.com/en/20170324-france-unemployment-whirlpool-amiens-le-pen

Monday, May 08, 2017

Rustbelt Radio: Abolition & The Commons

Check out Rev. Pinkney on Rustbelt Abolition Radio.

We ... speak with Reverend Edward Pinkney, imprisoned activist and community leader, who discusses his experience of fighting racist enclosure and dispossession in Benton Harbor, and the possibilities for building collective power.

Rev. Edward Pinkney Speaks on Rustbelt Abolition Radio

Rustbelt Abolition Radio, Ep. 5: Abolition & the Commons

Rustbelt Abolition Radio, a new project based in Michigan, interviewed Rev. Pinkney for its latest episode, out today. Listen and share!



In this episode we explore the relationship between the abolitionist horizon and the defense and reinvention of the commons. We speak with author and historian Peter Linebaugh about the ways the carceral state is founded upon enclosure and dispossession, and about hidden histories of collective resistance.

We also speak with Reverend Edward Pinkney, imprisoned activist and community leader, who discusses his experience of fighting racist enclosure and dispossession in Benton Harbor, and the possibilities for building collective power.

We wrap up the episode with an abolitionist poet who is currently imprisoned at the Women’s Huron Valley Prison in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Her poetry traces a genealogy that moves from the emergence of capitalism as the enclosure of the commons, and passes through the rise of the penitentiary to our present day. 

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Rev. Edward Pinkney: Benton Harbor City Income Must Pass!

We are in a life and death struggle in the city of Benton Harbor. Our living conditions in the city of Benton Harbor and the planet itself are being assaulted by the capitalist system from all directions, all to make a bigger profit.

Benton Harbor residents proposed that the city enact by a referendum a 1% income tax aimed at Whirlpool Corporation. Less than one half of one percent of Whirlpool Corporation employees live in Benton Harbor and none of the other corporations hire Benton Harbor residents to help the community and help solve the city's financial crisis. Under current agreements, Whirlpool will pay no tax to the city until 2024.

Whirlpool Corp. and Benton Harbor puppet mayor James Hightower worked to defeat the measure through a massive misinformation campaign, full of lies by Whirlpool Corp. and the puppet mayor. The capitalists and Whirlpool Corp. promote class, racial, religious, ethnic, gender, and educational divides to keep us fighting amongst ourselves, the purpose of which is to make us blind to our overwhelming common needs and interests. This is how they preserve their power and control over the profit that working people create with our labor.

The Benton Harbor officials are considering asking the Benton Harbor resident voteres to approve the city income tax proposal again. The Benton Harbor voters may be asked to consider a city income tax in the near future. The idea was brought up during the city legislative committee meeting.

The city of Benton Harbor must do something because Whirlpool Corp. refuses to pay taxes and their water bills. The city must do something to generate an income to fix the city and what is falling apart.

The income tax is an opportunity to generate funds and to build up the community. The potholes are getting worse, trees are dying off, we have so many abandoned buildings. The income tax should be used for capital improvement, infrastructure, and city maintenance.

The residents of Benton Harbor, the voters, rejected a city income tax because they lack knowledge and because of a massive misinformation campaign by Whirlpool and the puppet mayor. It was rejected by a 667 to 543 vote on Nov. 5, 2013. If the income tax proposal had passed in 2013, businesses and city residents would have paid a 1% income tax. The non-residents who work in the city would have a 0.5% tax on the portion of their income they earn in the city. The tax was estimated to raise $2.5 million dollars for the community every year.

We are in a life and death struggle in the city of Benton Harbor. We must pass the city income tax proposal for the community as soon as possible.

-Rev. Edward Pinkney

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Benton Harbor city income tax must pass

“Benton Harbor city income tax must pass,” says Rev. Pinkney


BROOKS FREMONT CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, MI — We are in life or death struggle in the city of Benton Harbor. Our living conditions (and the planet) are being assaulted by the capitalist system from all directions in order to make bigger profits for the corporations.
In 2013, Benton Harbor residents proposed that the city enact by a referendum a 1% income tax aimed at the Whirlpool Corporation and other business that do not hire Benton Harbor residents. Less than 1% of Whirlpool’s employees live in Benton Harbor. Businesses and city residents would pay 1%, and non-residents would pay ½ percent on the portion of their earned income in the city. This was seen as a way to solve the city’s financial crisis. It was estimated that the tax would have raised $2.5 million for the community every year.
Whirlpool and Benton Harbor’s former mayor James Hightower worked to defeat the measure with a massive misinformation campaign full of lies. They promoted class, racial, religious, ethnic, gender and educational divisions to keep us fighting one another. The purpose was to make us blind to our overwhelmingly common needs and interests. This is how they preserve their power and control over the profit that working people create with their labor. On November 5, 2013, by a 667 to 553 vote, the income tax proposal lost.
Benton Harbor officials are now considering asking the voters to approve a city income tax proposal in the near future. The idea was brought up during the City’s Legislative Committee meeting recently. The city must do something to generate funds. Whirlpool refuses to pay taxes or pay their water bill. The potholes are getting worse, trees are dying, we have so many abandoned buildings. The income tax is a means to build up the community. The tax should be used for capital improvement, rent, infrastructure and city maintenance. We must pass the city income tax proposal.
Editor’s note: Rev. Pinkney is serving a 30-month sentence as a result of his leadership in the community’s fight against the Whirlpool Corporation in Benton Harbor, MI.
We encourage reproduction of this article so long as you credit the source.
Copyright © 2017 People's Tribune. Visit us at http://peoplestribune.org

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Unveiling the Berrien County Sheriff's Department and Court System

The probation director Jessica Holmes, 35, plead guilty in a sex case. The former coordinator of a Berrien County probation program has plead guilty to two charges of relationship with a probationer, according to her friend Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic. Sepic said Holmes plead guilty in court to delivery of a controlled substance, a felony which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and obstruction of justice, a 5-year felony. As part of the plea deal, a charge of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, a 15-year felony, was dismissed by her friend prosecutor Sepic. It is great to have a corrupt prosecutor as your friend.

Jessica Holmes entered her plea before Berrien County Trial Court Judge John Donahue and sentencing was set for 1:30 p.m. on May 1, 2017. Prosecutor Sepic, who just so happens to be Holmes' good friend, said staff in a neighboring county will write up the pre-sentencing investigation report.

Most of Berrien County's judges and other court staff disqualified themselves from involvement with the case because of their friendship with Holmes. Holmes worked in the probation program for 16 years and had been made coordinator of Swift and Sure program--a probation status in which probationers convicted of felonies are selected for a state-funded program that gives them a second chance to succeed on a local probation term and avoid going to prison.

A county worker by law cannot have a sexual relationship with a probationer. Holmes was having an affair with a probationer. When Holmes was arrested last year, it was alleged that she had developed a relationship with a Swift and Sure probationer, after the July 11 deadly shooting at the Berrien County courthouse. Sepic said Holmes met the probationer that day in a courtroom, near where the fatal shooting of two court officers took place, and the two developed a personal relationship.

It was alleged that Holmes provided the probationer with a controlled substance, Norce, to sell on her behalf, that she had a sexual relationship with him, and that she provided him with confidential scheduling information regarding when he would be drug and alcohol tested for the Swift and Sure program.

This is just one of many cases about Berrien County's corrupt court system. The Berrien County shoplifting Sheriff's deputy, the county commissioner who stole almost a million dollars, the sexual attacks by members of the Sheriff's department, judges given breaks. When does the corruption stop? We must confront this corrupt system at all costs.

-Rev. Edward Pinkney

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

No Medical Care for Diabetic Prisoners in Michigan!

Chronic diseases are becoming a more important overall problem of health care inside the prison system, undergoing demographic aging, but Michigan mass incarceration policies have concentrated on contributing to the health care problem in the Michigan prison system, not solving them.

These problems are compounded by a life that is far more sedentary than it may have been in the past, which leads to other chronic diseases of the heart, lungs, and kidneys, including diabetes and cancer.

From a medical management perspective, the prison regime is even more problematic for combating chronic disease than infectious disease. A very different set of strategies and technologies are necessary to combat chronic disease. When infectious disease responds to medicine, it is fairly cheap to treat with antibiotics and better hygiene.

The cost curves of chronic illness: The only sustainable economic model requires meticulous management and routine care needs. Diabetes, for example, requires measurement of blood sugar throughout the day and every day, adjusting blood sugar and food intake along with insulin in some cases. Michigan Department of Corrections refuses to monitor a prisoner's blood sugar levels. Failure to provide this monitoring results in escalating damage to hands and feet, as well as to the kidney and degradation of kidney function and permanent kidney damage.

Michigan Department of Corrections' inability to monitor and track prisoners individually in real time is an inherent flaw undermining the prisoners' health. A public inquiry found that Michigan cannot give constitutional medical care to its prison population because its officials don't care and can't even imagine caring. The prison officials are unable to function effectively and suffer lack of will with respect to prisoner medical care. Michigan prison leadership is not just incompetent at medical care. It has established a penal logic antithetical to it. This leadership gap runs through all the other problems confronting health care delivery in the state of Michigan prisons and is the major factor in most critical poor medical care.

Shockingly and tellingly, the state of Michigan never disputed the main claims that the medical care was horrible. Since Michigan has thousands of prisoners serving life or very long terms, the proportion of inmates who are elderly will continue to grow. Nearly 1,700 people are in prison beds reserved for people needing geriatric care, dialysis, or other forms of chronic medical care.

The torture inside Michigan Department of Corrections medical care must be confronted at all costs, for the prisoners. We must stand together and confront the Michigan Department of Corrections.

-Rev. Edward Pinkney

The Legacy of Lynne Stewart, the People’s Lawyer


The Legacy of Lynne Stewart, the People’s Lawyer


Lynne-Stewart-obit-Article-201703081613_t750x550
“Well, sometimes the impossible takes a little longer”, remarked Lynne Stewart, December 31, 2014, on her arrival in New York, released from federal prison in Texas, after a vigorous family and internationally driven campaign on her behalf. (She was suffering from advanced cancer.)
Stewart lived three more years, nearby her family, always with a smile for visitors. This was the woman who dared this mild rebuke to her sentencing judge: “I do not intend to go gentle into that good night” she told him.
Last Saturday, almost 500 friends and admirers of the brave lawyer who had the courage to challenge U.S. Homeland’s chief John Ashcroft fifteen years ago, gathered to celebrate a remarkable and honorable life.
April 22nd, the same day when tens of thousands were gathering in cities across the country to support our scientific community under threat by Trump administration budget cuts, one is struck by the contrast with those memorializing this “people’s lawyer”.
That modest assembly in a quiet corner of New York, the city where she grew up and where Stewart worked all her life, represented a revolutionary era whose very place in U.S. history is dangerously marginal. Moreover, that history is barely recognized by the rather belated post-November 8th arousal—the new liberal movement– now gathering with its multitude of committees, mass parades and lefty celebrity speeches: part of Bernie Sanders’ Our Revolution. Fine. But a far cry from what Lynne Stewart’s celebrants represent.
Unarguably America needs organized massive resistance to threats posed by the current administration; push back is essential on all fronts: healthcare, the arts, environmental protections, bank regulation, civic rights, and on and on. One hopes that the thousands of communities mobilizing nationwide, from villages to city centers and suburbs will– after the committees are settled, the speeches made, the funds raised, the petitions signed– act. They have organizing tools unavailable in past revolutions. Digital platforms flowing into every hand can inform with virtual velocity; Google maps assure you that your small effort is fed into a nationwide net of tens of thousands; you are not alone. Leaders can materialize in weeks with Twitter and Facebook skills at their command, cameras everywhere recording their emergence. Film celebrities join in, drawing even greater numbers to the effort. These are essentially what we have, and they may indeed be what are appropriate at a time when representatives of our police state are more numerous and more heavily armed, endowed with more authority and less tolerance.
Those gathered to remember Lynne Stewart last week were authentic, tried revolutionaries: poets Nat Turner and Amina Baraka; former political prisoners, attorneys who had stepped forward to defend unpopular characters, teachers, organizers in solidarity with Cuba and Palestinian statehood from the 1960s to today; Vietnam war veterans and the unjustly imprisoned; defiant elected representatives from New Jersey and Brooklyn; the journalist and theologian Chris Hedges  who refuses to join the liberal voice that claims it is the rightful alternative to the Republican party.
Each woman and man reminded us what makes a revolution. Each invoked the grass roots experience of Stewart, a librarian and teacher who turned to law in order to fight injustices she witnessed in the lives of her students. Eventually she took on the case of Muslims wrongly accused in the early 1990s when the government was using secret evidence to illegally charge and convict. Where other attorneys shied away from representing terror suspects, Lynne Stewart remained committed. There was some success when the government was eventually prevented from further use of secret evidence.
Then came the 9/11 attacks, and everything changed. Only Stewart insisted on defending attorney-client privilege (a right the government suspended). She had to be stopped. And they had to put Stewart, at the age of 73, in jail to do so.
As Brooklyn assemblyman Charles Barron reminded us on Saturday, “Lynne was a sweet person.” Even as she presented her cases and spoke to the media, she was always mild and respectful, always witty and bright-eyed. It’s not simply that she’s missed. We need to believe others as courageous and well equipped as Stewart was can come to our aid today.
Barbara Nimri Aziz is a New York based anthropologist and journalist. Find her work at www.RadioTahrir.org. She was a longtime producer at Pacifica-WBAI Radio in NY.
http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/04/26/the-legacy-of-lynne-stewart-the-peoples-lawyer/

Monday, April 24, 2017

Back Down Memory Lane: Happy Birthday, Dorothy Pinkney!



Today, April 24, is a very special day. This is Mrs. Dorothy Pinkney's birthday. We are asking everyone to join in this celebration of a courageous Black woman who has steadfastly supported her husband, Reverend Pinkney, in his efforts for justice and demanding accountability of the politicians in Benton Harbor and the State of Michigan.

Rev. Pinkney and others have spoken out about the takeover by Whirlpool Corporation and Harbor Shores, part of the conglomerate of Whirlpool--a manufacturing company that makes 21 billion dollars a year globally. Whirlpool with their corporate greed took over Benton Harbor to turn this poor, 90 percent impoverished Black town into a goldmine for the rich.

Rev. Pinkney was a threat to the forces that be. Corporate takeover is common across this country with the help of crooked politicians lobbying for the interest of the billionaires to keep their wealth, and not giving back to the community. Whirlpool is not providing jobs for communities that need them so desperately, and withholds revenue they would owe if they paid taxes. In 2013, Mayor James Hightower of Benton Harbor supported the corporation in not paying taxes, and shifted the tax burden on the poorest of citizens. Rev. Pinkney and others decided to fight back and demanded Mayor James Hightower be recalled. In 2013, the wheels were set in motion to start a campaign to remove Hightower from office.

On April 24, 2014, Dorothy Pinkney's birthday, they went out celebrating. It was a joyous occasion for this happy couple until they got word through numerous telephone calls from residents that a S.W.A.T. team surrounded their home. The Sheriff's Department, along with other law enforcement agencies, blocked the street as if a murderer was on the loose. They were ready to kill Rev. Pinkney! How dare he go against their puppet for Whirlpool, James Hightower. No, those white racists weren't going to have that.

Yes, today is Mrs. Pinkney's birthday--the other half that drives a man to greatness. Mrs. Dorothy Pinkney, a strong Black woman of faith and a prayerful activist, continues to support her husband. Yes, Rev. Pinkney's slave chains will soon be broken, and Rev. Pinkney will be reunited with the love of his life. Together they stand in the quest for justice for all, the struggle is one.

Happy Birthday, Mrs. Pinkney, a Black Nubian Queen, a well-deserved celebration. Love and peace in the fight for equality.

Rev. Pinkney was charged and convicted with no evidence of election fraud and sentenced by Judge Sterling Schrock to 2-1/2 years to 10 years in prison in December 2014.

The Blindfolded Lady with the Balance Scales of Justice Does Not Exist in Berrien County's Sheriff's Department

The corruption continues in Berrien county. County Commissioner Robert Wooley stole almost a million dollars from the senior citizens and received a slap on the wrist. Then there's the murder of Martell Hadley by the Berrien County Sheriff's Department. The sex to play by the Berrien County Sheriff's office. The falsifying of evidence, lying on the stand--the list goes on and on.

A Berrien County Sheriff Department Lieutenant, Trent Babcock, a known racist, is on administrative leave after pleading guilty to charges related to shoplifting groceries from the Niles Wal-Mart. Lt. Trent Babcock, 41 year old of Walling LAne in Niles, is an 18-year veteran of the Sheriff's Department and is assigned to the Niles Township substation. Lt. Babcock pleaded guilty to a reduced charge, a misdemeanor charge of third degree retail fraud Friday in Berrien County corrupt trial court and was ordered to pay only $435 in fines and costs by the judge and prosecutor.

Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey said that he placed Babcock on administrative leave with pay. A paid vacation. He said Babcock will remain on paid vacation until an internal investigation is complete.

The police report of the incident indicates that a Wal-Mart store video from Feb. 7 showed Babcock loading up a shopping cart with groceries. Lt. Babcock then placed the items in a blue plastic tote and other groceries in two black bags, all while still in the store. Lt. Babcock, obviously this is not the first time. Babcock is then seen exiting through a closed checkout lane and leaving the store without paying for the items. Lt. Babcock was confronted by a Wal-Mart asset protection manager the very next day and admitted to taking the items, after it was revealed a video of him was on record, according to the report.

The value of the groceries taken was put at $184. Of that amount, Lt. Babcock returned $172 worth of groceries on Feb. 8, turning the stolen items over to his good friend Det. Lt. Greg Sanders of the Berrien County Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff Paul Bailey, who has a long history of corruption, said the investigation of the criminal case was conducted by an Allegan County Sheriff's Department Detective. Berrien County Prosecutor Mike Sepic said his office handled the case and did not send out the case to another county, because Babcock was his friend who he had worked with for many years. There was a conflict of interest. The Berrien County trial court along with prosecutor Mike Sepic take care of their friends. We must confront the corruption inside Berrien County!

-Rev. Edward Pinkney

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Taxpayer's Dollars Misused by Whirlpool Corporation and Berrien County Commissioners

One Berrien County commissioner, Debra Panozzo, was in office when Whirlpool Corp. was given $1 million, part of which the federal government wants back. The residents said at a meeting that Whirlpool should be told to repay the money rather than having the taxpayers pay the money that Whirlpool received from the Berrien County commissioners.

Berrien County commissioner Panozzo said: I wish I knew then what I know now.

Debra, you did know, you just got caught. You should go to prison.

Panozo said she doesn't remember being as prepared on the issue of the taxpayer money as she is now. The Berrien County commissioners voted 10-0 to repay the money that was given to Whirlpool Corp. in violation of federal laws.

The agency explained that the grant was for loans that were to be paid back, not a forgiven or a forgiveable loan provided to Whirlpool. By not getting the money returned, Berrien County officials depleted their revolving loan fund, the letter from the federal government stated.

The loan exceeded the maximum $200,000 allowed. The federal government further said it was used for Whirlpool Corp. and it was also used to lure jobs from Ohio to Michigan, another violation of the law. A $75,000 loan given in 2004 to Harbor Town, which is part of Whirlpool Corp., was used for residential development when the grant money should have been used for manufacturing. This was against the federal law.

The Lincoln Township residents should stand up and have the Berrien County commissioners held accountable for their actions.

If the loan was illegal, the matter should be investigated by the federal government. The county should have a legal obligation to force Whirlpool Corp. to return the illegally transferred money. It has a moral obligation to do so.

Berrien County commissioners represent the taxpayer, not Whirlpool Corp. The taxpayers need the money to repair roads, schools, and provide better service for the residents.

Whirlpool Corp. is protected by the United States Representative Fred Upton. It is okay for the Berrien County commissioners and Whirlpool Corp., along with Harbor Shores, to break the law and misuse taxpayer money.

The question is how long the Berrien County commissioners and Whirlpool Corp. and others have been misusing taxpayer monies. The Herald Palladium newspaper has protected Berrien County commisioners and Whirlpool Corp. Fascism is here.

-Rev. Edward Pinkney

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Brokenness but still winning the war



Brokenness but still winning the war


Rev. Edward Pinkney and his wife Dorothy outside the courthouse in St. Joseph, MI. In spite of the severe punishment handed down by the government to Rev. Pinkney for his leadership in his community’s fight against Whirlpool/corporate power, he continues the fight for a better future for all of America.
PHOTO/DAYMONJHARTLEY.COM

BROOKS FREMONT CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, MI — I read Bryan Stevenson’s book, “Just Mercy,” and the story seems very similar to mine. I would like to quote you from his book. “My main years of struggling against inequality, abusive power, poverty, oppression and injustice has finally revealed something to me about myself.  Being close to suffering death [and the cruel and unusual punishment inside the prison system] did not just illuminate the brokenness of others in a moment of anguish and heartbreak. It also exposed my own brokenness. You can’t effectively fight abusive power, poverty, inequality, illness, oppression or injustice and not be broken by it. . . We are all broken by something; we have all hurt someone and have been hurt. We all share the conditions of brokenness even if our brokenness is not equivalent. We can embrace our humanness, which means embracing our broken nature and the compassion that remains . . . Or we can deny our brokenness, our compassion and, as a result, deny our own humanity.”
I definitely wanted mercy for the residents of Benton Harbor, MI, and would have done anything to create justice for my fellow brothers and sisters, Black, White Brown, Red, Yellow and all others. I cannot pretend that the people’s struggle was disconnected from my own. We have choices. We all owe the people who have fought inequality and oppression and for justice.
I have been threatened, terrorized, wrongly accused wrongly, condemned, but I never gave up. I survived the humiliation of three trials and several different charges against me. I survived two guilty verdicts and several wrongful condemnations by the State of Michigan, and while I didn’t survive without injury or trauma, I still came out with my dignity.
I told people that I have overcome what fear, ignorance and bigotry and oppression has done to me. I stood strong in the face of injustice; this made the rest of us a little safer, slightly more protected from the abuse of power oppression and the false accusation that almost killed me.
I suggest to my friends and family that my strength, resistance and perseverance were a victory worth celebrating, an occasion to be remembered. The establishment tortured me but I am still standing. The establishment lied on me but I am still standing. The establishment sent me to prison with absolutely no evidence to convict but I am still standing. The establishment gave me 30 months, which would be a death penalty for a 66-year-old man, but I am still standing. The all white jury was motivated by something other than the truth but I am still standing.
Let’s make this struggle a victory for us all who in the struggle against the oppressor, and the corrupt criminal justice system, in every town and city in America.

                        We encourage reproduction of this article so long as you credit the source.
                          Copyright © 2017 People's Tribune. Visit us at http://peoplestribune.org

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Residents of Benton Harbor Want Just Mercy!

The courtroom is a place where justice is supposed to be served, more and more, however Berrien County courtrooms are becoming crime scenes. Innocent people are being kidnapped and held captive. The hypocrisy of Berrien County has no limits. The blindfolded lady with the balanced scales of justice no longer exists in Berrien County courtroom.

In Benton Harbor on Feb. 28, 2017, many people at the forum billed as an explanation of how criminal cases get charged proved to be more concerned about the injustices in the Berrien County court system.

A member from the audience told the prosecutor Mike Sepic, who has a history of corruption: You cannot sit here and tell us that if a kid from St. Joseph and a kid from Benton Harbor commit the very same crime, the kid from St. Joseph won't get a lighter sentence. The prosecutor Mike Sepic said he would need to know what cases the man was talking about before he could comment on them. It is so many cases--over fifty. It is so hard to count them all.

In Judge Sterling Schrock's courtroom a few years ago, a white 16 year old boy told his group of friends he was going into his house to kill his stepfather and he beat him to death. The white boy was given probation. A black kid under 17 years of age hit a white person with a pipe once and the person died. The black boy was given life without the possibility of parole, plus another 15 years. The judge Sterling Schrock stated that prison would do the white kid no good. He murdered his stepfather. But life without parole, plus 15 years, would be ok for the black kid. Both were sentenced on the same day, both under 17 years old.

Prosecutor Mike Sepic said it is the judges who impose the sentence, not the prosecutor. Prosecutor Mike Sepic is the prosecutor who was on most of the cases that we are talking about. The prosecutor recommends the sentence and the judge upholds it.

After the forum ALPACT member Lisa Peeples Hurst said the meeting opened a dialogue that needs to be continued. We need to have discussions about those instances where citizens or most of the community feel like there is a disparity in sentencing in charges and in all of those things related to criminal cases. Hurst said: Several people asked Sepic about the percentage of people from the 49022 zip code in the court system versus the rest of Berrien County. That zip code covers Benton Harbor and Benton Township, along with part of Sodus and St. Joseph Township. I think that people are really asking about citizens in Benton Harbor. Is there disparity between Benton Harbor citizens and other folks in the county, and I think that's a valid question. She continued: Many people believe that people of color receive harsher treatment from law enforcement and the court system than white people.

Injustice is easy not to notice when it affects people different from ourselves that helps explain the obliviousness of our generation to inequity today in Berrien County's courtroom. We need to wake up and start investigating the corrupt criminal justice system.

-Rev. Edward Pinkney