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:

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