Tuesday, July 26, 2005


An arbitrator has ruled that Dennie Brown, fired from the Benton Harbor Police Department last summer, should and will have his job back.
Interim police chief Al Mingo said he also has received the arbitrator`s ruling, but declined to comment Monday, referring reporters to the city attorney. Charlette Pugh Tall said only that the city can appeal the ruling.
City manager Dwight Pete Mitchell and city commissioners, this very sad group, said they had not seen the document and could not comment on the ruling they have not seen. Brown said in a ruling he received July 18 that the arbitrator decided the city had no reason to fire him. Sam Harris and Pete Mitchell would not grant him a hearing before he was fired.
Brown was a police officer in Benton Harbor for 10 years before being fired last July. He already had sued the city, alleging he was punished at work for reporting all the police brutality, violations, crime, and wrongdoing in the police department.
Brown lost that case when Berrien County trial court chief judge Paul Maloney ruled "no cause for action" in the suit against the city, then police chief Sam Harris, and former city manager Joel Patterson. That ruling had NO substance.
Brown repeatedly asked the city commissioners to hear him in closed session, but commissioners said they could not because he was no longer a city employee. Now, Brown will get his closed session with THE commissioners next week. He said he doesn't want to start work until Sept. 1 because of family issues he is dealing with, but wanted to talk about the city attorney and former police chief Sam Harris who both have committed criminal acts.
Mitchell cautioned Brown that if and when he goes back to work the police chief will be his boss and he should follow proper chain of command. When he was still a police officer, Brown was disciplined for reporting crimes inside the police department and Berrien County court house. This one is for the good guys.

Sunday, July 24, 2005


After sucking all the blood out of the residents of Benton Harbor, black workers in Nashville were passed over for promotion.
A discrimination lawsuit was filed in Nashville by 15 black employees of the Whirlpool Corporation in LaVergne. The company fostered a racially hostile environment,
The employees say they were passed over for promotion and their complaints to management were brushed to the side. According to the attorney, 12 white employees have come forward to back up the claims. The suit seeks more than 50 millions dollars from a federal jury.
Whirlpool officials deny the claims. The suit was orginally filed in 2003 according to court records, but was suspended while the sides were engaged in mediation.
Whirlpool is a leading manufacturer of major home appliances. The LaVergne plant makes air conditioners, built-in refrigerators, air purifiers, and dehumidifiers.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


The state of Michigan is stealing our children and your family could be next!
Messy house, spankings, poor, vegetarians, disabled, drinkers, overweight, messy kids, unemployed, head lice, gun owners, adult videos, inappropriate clothing, yelling, naked baby pictures, mental problems, religious beliefs, homeless,slow-kids,homeschoolers, being too concerned about your child...
None of these things are crimes. The state will take your child away for any of these reasons.
We must start protecting freedom and families nationwide. Outrage and protest must happen.
We must stop the abuse of child protection laws.
One of the child protection agencie's key incentives for receiving federal dollars is the sheer number of children taken from parents and put into foster care.
Parents are falsely accused 60-80% of the time. Meaning, 20% of the cases are actual child abuse/neglect. The other cases do not warrant the removal of the children, but children are removed from their homes nonetheless.
CPS and the courts conduct trials behind a cloak of secrecy. The workers can commit perjury, defy court orders, used coerced and false and hearsay testimony, and ignore constitutional rights, and still be almost totally unchallenaged. Arrogance is prominent among CPC agencies.
Child protection has become a money making cottage industry. A multi-billion dollar business natinwide.
Our organization is dedicated to advocating for children and familes caught in the mire of the corrupt child protection services industry across the United States.
Our mission is to work for the reform of a broken government system that destroys far more familes than it helps - at an immense cost to the tax payers of this country. It is outright criminal. Our first concern always is for the rights of the child to live in a safe loving home, with his or her biological family.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

From IPPN's Ted Glick

July 17, 2005

Benton Harbor Minister Under Attack

By Ted Glick

It's time for the progressive movement to come to the defense of one of our courageous African American community leaders, Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, Michigan.

A little over two years ago, in mid-June, hundreds of unemployed African American young people in Benton Harbor rose up in anger after 28-year-old Terrance Shurn died following a high-speed chase after him by local police. When 50 people gathered the next evening for a prayer vigil, police moved in and ordered them to disperse. When they didn't immediately do so, the cops threatened arrests, tensions escalated, and the people's anger broke open.

For two nights hundreds of people demonstrated in the streets, setting fire to approximately 30 buildings and battling with police. According to local United Church of Christ minister F. Russell Baker, all but two of the buildings were abandoned: "The rioting was focused in two areas. One was anger at the police. The other was at the abandoned houses. The reaction of those who were rioting was against the neglect. But it was a focused riot."

For several days national media attention was riveted on this small town, 92% black, on the southeastern side of Lake Michigan, about two hours from Chicago. Predictably, many articles referred to the poverty and unemployment in Benton Harbor, where 1/3 of its households have annual incomes below $8,000 and unemployment is at 65%. Democratic Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm said, "I can promise them an ear, I can promise them that I will send in a team, I can promise them we will make Benton Harbor a priority as we are with our cities. Benton Harbor is an example of why we've got to focus on our urban centers."

Also predictably, after a period of time, media attention and state politician attention virtually disappeared.

But local minister Rev. Edward Pinkney and others in the organization, Black Autonomy Network of Community Organizers (BANCO), stepped up their efforts to address the burning issues of Benton Harbor. One of their actions was to organize a successful recall of one of the town's city commissioners, Glen Yarbrough, who was a strong supporter of many of the most racist and abusive police officers. Yarbrough also worked closely with the Whirlpool Corporation, the largest employer and the major power in Benton Harbor. Yarbrough and Whirlpool have been collaborating on plans to knock down a senior citizens building and replace it with upscale homes in an area by the lake, as well as to build an exclusive golf course.

After the successful recall, Yarbrough and other city officials produced a witness, Mansel Williams, a substance abuser and ex-offender, who told prosecutor James Cherry that Rev. Pinkney had paid him $5 to vote against Yarbrough. He later made a tape in the mayor's office and signed an affidavit stating that Yarbrough had paid him $10 to say that Pinkney had paid him $5. Mansel never came to court to testify. Another government witness, Brenda Fox, was threatened with a prison sentence if she did not testify that Pinkney had paid people to vote; she had earlier signed an affidavit stating that she was paid to pass out flyers and work the polls, nothing more.

Pinkney's supporters in the area have rallied to his side. In late May a supportive demonstration was held which included both local people and people from throughout Michigan and Illinois. Desperately-needed funds are being raised for his legal defense.

Rev. Pinkney is facing the threat of bankruptcy because of this and other attacks against him.

It's a familiar scenario for progressive leaders of color who refuse to back down in the face of government/corporate injustice.

It's another example of the racist nature of our so-called "criminal justice system," its susceptibility to corruption in furtherance of the agenda of the rich and powerful.

And it's a situation which calls for support, financial and otherwise, from all those who consider themselves progressive. Let's not emulate the corporate media and the two-party politicians who speak words of concern when the daily reality of injustice and oppression is cracked open a bit but who then take no action afterwards.

We must defend our leaders and expose those who trample on our rights so they can maintain oppressive power and gross economic and racial inequality.

Donations can be made or information obtained by writing to BANCO, 1940 Union St., Benton Harbor, Mi., 49022, calling 269-925-0001, or emailing banco9342@sbcglobal.net.

Ted Glick

"How to bring into being a world that is not only sustainable,
functional and equitable but also deeply desirable is a question
of leadership and ethics and vision and courage, properties
not of computer models but of the human heart and soul."
Donella and Dennis Meadows and Jorgen Randers

Sunday, July 17, 2005


Starletta Banks say officials kidnaped her children. Starletta Banks has not seen her children, Darius, 11, Danielle, 7, and Darren, 5, since the year 2000, but she says she is determined to have them come home again to her loving arms.
"Its been devastating", said Banks.

"Its been hard holding jobs and eating and sleeping. You can`t even imagine the Christmas`s and birthdays I`ve spent. When we get them back, whenever that is, it will be Christmas, because I KEPT buying presents for them all this time."

Banks says her children were essentially kidnapped by Governor Jennifer Granholm, Attorney Mike Cox, and various judges, adminstrators, and doctors, to be used as cash cows "for the benefit of the state`s child foster care system." That system is largely farmed out to private non-profit agencies who receive federal funds for each child. She says the alleged kidnappers have profited because they sit on the board of the agencies in the system.

On June 6 Banks filed suit in U.S. District Court under federal racketeering and civil rights statutues demanding her childrens' return, and calling for an investigation by the Justice Department into the alleged misuse of federal funds by the state of Michigan in her case and thousands of foster care cases.

"I am going to fight them with everything I have got until my children are returned to me, and I want other families to join me." Banks is so far is representing herself in the case. She resides with her mother and father Barbara and Leo Banks who are supporting her suit. The suit was inspired by a similar action in Los Angles County that opened an investigation into 30,000 foster care cases there.

"Plantiff was severely damaged and her family destroyed by the kidnapping under the color of law of her three children," read Banks complaint.

Defendant used the Michigan State system as a child for profit machine with eighty percent of their case load contracted out to private agencies who are paid federal monies by the case.

Defendant sat on the board of agencies that received federal monies for the care and custody of children while actively participating in or making judicial decisions on cases involving child custody or termination of parental rights including plaintiff`case.


Friday, July 15, 2005


On August 19 at 9am in Berrien County two main questions will be presented before the court. Should head prosecutor James Cherry be disqualified from my trial and, should Mr.Cherry's entire office be disqualified?

Cherry must be disqualified because he has a personal interest in the outcome of this litgation and a personal relationship of animosity with me as the result of an ongoing, open, and widely publicized political disagreement between myself and the Berrien County prosecutors' office.

The way in which prosecutors unlawfully obtain convictions number in the 100`s or 1000`s but some of the specific techniques are so effective and non public that they tend to repeat the same acts. The consequences of over zealous prosecutors like James Cherry are too high (very long prison sentences). Mr.Cherry is in control of all kind of things he shouldn`t be in control of.

Recent Michigan prison stats: 3rd in state spending on corrections, 6th in prison population: over 50k.

The purpose of the over zealous prosecutor is too often the sought-after fame, fortune, power, and political position, but the victims, including virtually everyone in the community are left to pay the bills for wrongful incarceration, excessive criminal proceeding, destroyed family, wrongfully confiscated property depriving a newly-accused defendant of the funds to defend himself/herself. Wrongfully impoverished families requiring government assistance, a loss of skilled workers and loss of voters needed to strike a more just political balance in the country and various other consequences which need to be explored by the press and book authors. It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong. Harassing, DISPLAYING bias toward, or having a vendetta against the defendant.

Mr. Cherry, it is dangerous to continue with your conduct.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


The Supreme Court of the United States, with a stroke of a pen last week effectively rejected one of the most fundamental constitutional freedoms guaranteed to all citizens: the right to own property. We have got to stop them now.
Before this ruling the government could only step in and seize property if it was needed for public projects, road building, parks, and development of public entities such as hospitals.

Today, with the Supreme Court ruling, the government may seize the home, small business, or other private property of one citizen and transfer it to another private citizen if the transfer would boost the community economic development. Simply put, this means your house could be replaced with a shopping mall.

We must fight for our civil rights so that we may continue to celebrate our freedom - or what is left of it. Our parental rights, our civil rights, our human rights are all being stripped away. How much more do we have to lose before the people of this nation will rise up and speak out against the abuse of power over the innocent in Berrien County, in the State of Michigan, in the United States? WE THE PEOPLE MUST STOP THIS NOW !

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Community Support

Changes are taking place in America in the various nations of the earth, in a manner, or at a rate of speed, which makes it very difficult for us to keep up. It is almost as if you nod or take a nap, the world has passed you by. This may seem like an exaggeration, but it is true. The people in the city of Benton Harbor have survived abuse, forced confessions, tribunals without lawyers, isolations and humiliations in the Berrien County court system.

I would like to say to you, Rev Pinkney, you are doing a great and wonderful service for the people of Benton Harbor.

I have lived in Benton Harbor for over forty years. You have proven to be a man of God. Keep fighting, the people know your are innocent. My family loves you and I love you, do not stop what you are doing.

Pastor Long

via comments

Green Party of Michigan Supports BANCO

"Greens have been meeting and working with Rev. Pinkney and BANCO for the past few years. Now, they are demanding that trumped-up charges of election fraud against Pinkney be dropped -- and that the February 22 recall election in Benton Harbor be recognized as valid, and Glenn Yarbrough be removed from the at-large seat on Benton Harbor City Commission."

Via comment at Michigan Independent Media Center (IMC)

Benton Harbor Struggle Continues

Rally Held to Defend Rev. Pinkney at Public Library
Prosecutors in Berrien County seek to silence community activist

By Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor, Pan-African News Wire

...Local activist Rev. Carl Brown of BANCO said that "when the people take a stand great change can take place." He continued by discussing how local authorities have accused his organization of "rabblerousing." He pointed to an article in the newspaper recently quoting police chief Samuel Harris as saying that "this group has put a stranglehold on 50,000 people in this community. And in response to that I say that it shows you that when righteousness stands all sin will be exposed."...

Hunter also stated that Berrien County "is operating like it was in the deep south during the 1950s."...

"This fighting that is taking place in Benton Harbor is an economic fight. It is an economic fight over who going to be able to eat, have a home, education and recreation. We have to show them that it is time out for this nonsense and that our children must have a future," [Marian] Kramer declared....

"What they are trying to do is to criminalize the leadership of the movement. And in criminalizing the leadership of the movement what they hope to do is to scare people away. Stop people from organizing and at the same time take away the leadership of the organizations that are really standing up for the people. We cannot allow them to do that," the MECAWI and DCAPB representative stated....

Original article via Michigan Independent Media Centre (IMC)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Officials Should Be Held Accountable

In response to the comments about the negativity of BANCO... For myself, I understand the reason for rallies and the attempt to hold elected officials and other gov. officials to their reponsibilities, and to point out as often as necessary when they abuse their authority. Otherwise, they will be allowed to continue to be the cause of suffering.

It reminds me when the author, Arianna Huffington, said she worked tirelessly for many charities when living in Washington DC.... until the day it dawned on her that the government was passing laws that would undo all of her efforts - or, that no matter how hard she worked to help people, gov. policies tore down her efforts either immediately or eventually.

There are probably hundreds of kind souls doing good in Benton Harbor, but until the justice system operates in a way that is fair, citizens will be living in fear. Until that fear is eradicated, people will be unableto carry on their lives. The kindness and reaching out will not help if folks are afraid to leave their homes.

Sometimes I think that business as usual has been carried on for so long in Berrien County that people who have lived there a long time don't even realize how bad it is. Rev. Pinkney goes to court regularly and can hardly believe the way people are treated there. There are countless stories from people about the harrassment they receive from law enforcement simply for driving while black. It is not this bad in most other communities - even places with high levels of unemployment and poverty.

I believe Benton Harbor residents are fortunate to have Rev. Pinkney in their city - acting as court watchdog and supporting people in whatever way he can.

Monday, July 04, 2005


There is a crisis in Berrien County surrounding legal services for defendants whose very lives are at risk in criminal courts, jails, and prisons. Racial discrimination remains a dominant feature of the criminal justice system in the United States and Michigan.

The State of Michigan disenfranchises more of its citizens as a result of criminal convictions than any other state in the country.

Our children are 35% of our population in Berrien County and 100% of our future! Where there is no vision, the people perish.
The Equal Justice Initiative of Michigan stated that by the year 2007 the government expecst 2,000,000 millions black people to be in prison. One out of three will be under government supervision under 30 years of age.

The Equal Justice Initiative of Michigan also stated that the he gap between black and white infant mortality is growing in Berrien County. Berrien county has the highest black infant death rate in the state. How large does the gap have to be? How many black infants must die before we act? Will someone please tell me?

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Dave Zirin: Pining for the Pistons

Dave Zirin: Pining for the Pistons

"It was only 18 months ago when (Ben) Wallace laid a verbal smackdown on (NBA commissioner David) Stern, saying, 'I see behind the lines. I see behind the false screens. I know what this business is all about. I know the commissioner of this league makes more than three-quarters of the players in this league... They look at black athletes like we're dumb-ass n------. It's as if we're just going to shut up, sign for the money and do what they tell us.'"

Friday, July 01, 2005

Once a month, in the city of Benton Harbor, where justice is almost unheard of, and the promise of the constitution is but a dream, crowds gather to hear speakers inform listeners about the current state of social injustice in Benton Harbor, the state, and the country. Both the speakers and the audience are becoming more and more multi-cultural. For an activist, it feels like there’s now a place to go on a regular basis to listen to people talk about problems, solutions, opinions, to gather information, and to network. Many of the speakers are inspiring and exciting to hear.

Benton Harbor Community Forums, sometimes called Rallies, are held once a month. Last Saturday’s Rally was held in the BH library and brought people from Chicago, Detroit, Lansing, Ann Arbor, Albion, St. Joseph, and Flint. Dorothy Pinkney opened the afternoon with a prayer, and reminded us that we are in a war (right in BH). Rev. Carl Brown said that the entire state and country is witness to what’s going on in Berrien County.

We had an honored guest. Carl E. Person, NYC anti-trust attorney, flew in to speak about the fact that oppression by elected officials can and should be offset by filing civil rights and anti-trust lawsuits against gov't. agencies and major corporations to get back much of the money and opportunity which they are stealing from the poor and unrepresented. This will have the effect of elevating civil lawsuits and lowering a community's reliance on costly, unjust criminal prosecution. Atty. Person has written three books and is one of the most interesting minds I've ever met. Many people spoke to him after the rally.

I reminded everyone to leave the Rally and tell ten people to stand up and fight. We’re the busiest people in the world and we’re doing nothing. There are four families in BH who control drugs in the city. Everything they do is bad for the city and county. The recall election was good for one reason: those in power now see that BH residents can get organized and take action. This is a real war and the opposition leaders in Berrien County should be criminalized.

Marian Kramer from Michigan Welfare Rights League: “Malcolm X said that if you live south of the Canadian border, you live in the South. Highland Park is run by an appointed, not elected, manager - that’s the plan for all cities. Water is the next gold. It is being privatized for the benefit of those who will make maximum profit.”

Flint speaker from the Poverty Round Table, Clara McClinton: “The struggle in Benton Harbor is a blessing because you’re standing up and making a difference. We’ve got to educate people on how the system works. When a police officer strikes a person that is the state against the people."

Roderick Casey from Ypsilanti is circulating a petition for juries to be comprised of at least 6 (50%) who are the same color as the defendant. His email: casey_36@juno.com

This is only a partial representation of the stimulating speakers we were fortunate to hear in Benton Harbor on June 25.

Benton Harbor Rally Sat. July 30, 1pm
Benton Harbor Public Library
215 Wall Street. Take I-94 to exit 33,
about 5 lights turn left on Pipestone, go one block.

Send tax-deductible donations for atty. fees to
1940 Union St.
Benton Harbor, MI 49022
(desperately needed)

call or email me with ANY questions, anytime!
Rev. Edward Pinkney, 269-925-0001
email: banco9342@sbcglobal.net
website: bhbanco.blogspot.com