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.
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