Sunday, December 24, 2006

Is it possible for Michiganders to continue to allow Berrien County to imprison innocents at the highest rate in the state?

Similar to US alcohol prohibition of 1920, current drug prohibition legislation breeds police corruption and abuse. In Berrien County, this affects corrupt judges to the corruption in the Benton Harbor police dept. headed up by chief Al Mingo, all the way down to officer Collins.

One of America's worst cases of drug-related police corruption happened in the State of Michigan and the city of Benton Harbor. Benton Harbor police officer Collins has sucessfully planted drugs on nine different people I know of, all of whom have ended up with harsh sentences.

Alfonso Gibbs, on December 15, 2006, was convicted of drug dealing. The drugs were planted in the back seat of the patrol car by officer Collins. The defendant court-appointed attorney Brian Berger refused to subpeona witnesses to show officer Collins history or track record of planting drugs. Judge Schoffield, pro-prosecutor, refused to allow defendant Gibbs an opportunity to find a new attorney. So Gibbs had no choice but to defend himself. It was a circus. Several credible witnesses stated under oath that officer Collins had released Mr. Gibbs. Mr. Gibbs went into the home of a friend, Ms. Washington, and when he walked back outside 20 minutes later, he was arrested. Officer Collins stated Mr. Gibbs was never released, and never went into Ms. Washington's home. Five witnesses said he did. Officer Collins lied under oath. Mr. Gibbs was convicted by an all white jury.

I am asking everyone to write/call the Attorney Grievance Commission and request an investigation into attorney Brian Berger # P34678 and the Berrien County court-appointed system. Mr. Alfonso Gibbs and Mr. Shannon McKinney are just two of the many victims serving time in Berrien County jail for crimes that were never committed.

Attorney Grievance Commission
243 W. Congress St.
Detroit, MI 48226

Remember, everyone who works in that office is OUR public servant. The people of Benton Harbor are fighting for their lives. It sounds dramatic, but it couldn't be more true.

Rev. Pinkney

Everyone's support is needed at an important hearing on several constitutional issues on January 25, 2007 at 9am at the Berrien County Courthouse, 811 Port Street in St. Joseph, Michigan.
Whether or not to drop charges against me will be decided.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Does anyone know anyone like Rev. Pinkney?

Do you know of many African-American adults who stood in protest of the worst racism in any courthouse in Michigan every Tuesday, rain or blizzarding snow for FIVE years? With judges who drink on the job? Where judges work closely with cops, prosecutors, and defense attorneys in order to convict as many as possible (many innocent)?

And NOBODY reports on? (except the People's Tribune)

Read on a bit for a brief summation of where Pinkney's at with his "trial", and for the date we're needed to be there (in bold). Please plan to attend. Bring everyone you know. We may not be out there on the front lines of protest, but we sure can support those who are.

* * * *

1. On November 3, 2006, Reverend Edward Pinkney made a motion for a continuance in his re-trial for "voter fraud." (The first trial ended in a hung jury.) These charges are an outcome of his leadership in the Benton Harbor, Michigan democracy struggle against the take over of the town by Whirlpool Corporation and the developers. Rev. Pinkney's motion was heard before Judge Alfred Butzbaugh, a known corrupt judge who fought to convict him.

2. The Court ordered the transcript of Rev. Pinkney's first trial, but at the expense of Rev. Pinkney who had to put up his home as collateral. It is unknown when the transcript will be available for his counsel, Hugo Davis, who moved for a continuance of the trial date of January 9, 2007 to March 13, 2007 because the court failed to produce the transcript in a timely matter. The motion was granted.

3. On December 12, 2006, Rev. Pinkney's attorney filed a motion for a Direct Verdict to Squash the Information and to dismiss counts three to five of his charges. These counts are in violation of Rev. Pinkney's constitutional rights/due process. The statute of being in possession of absentee ballots creates a felony offense, but there was no evidence presented at the preliminary examination that showed that Rev. Pinkney had any knowledge that it was illegal to possess and /or deliver absentee ballots.

Everyone's support is needed at a very important hearing on several constitutional issues on January 25, 2007 at 9am at the Berrien County Courthouse, 811 Port Street in St. Joseph, Michigan. Whether or not to drop charges against Pinkney will be decided.

4. On November 9, 2006, Rev. Pinkney went to Lansing for the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board of Trustees, a special meeting to challenge Whirlpool and their take over of Benton Harbor. Rev. Pinkney spoke for the people in Benton Harbor -- with its 70% unemployment, and where 90% of the people live below the poverty level. He asked what a city like Benton Harbor with so much poverty would want with a 18-hole golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus, a boat launch, and about 30 homes that cost about one million dollars each, built on city property. As we go to print (The People's Tribune: the City Council is voting on the golf course. This could be the last stand, but the battle will continue for the people of Benton Harbor to keep their city.

Rev. Pinkney is available to speak through Speakers for a New America. Call 800-691-6888, email or visit

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The ban on affirmative action in Michigan will not stand!

(more info at

On November 8, BAMN filed a second lawsuit against Michigan's Proposal 2 in federal court. Joining in the suit are: UEAALDF, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, several Detroit city workers union locals, and many other organizations and individuals. We assert that Proposal 2 is invalid under federal law because (1) it is preempted by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, (2) it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and (3) it violates the First Amendment as affirmed by the Supreme Court decision, Grutter v. Bollinger.

We will post the date for hearing in this case when it is announced. A mass demonstration will be organized at the federal court on that day.

If your organization would like to sign on as a plaintiff in this suit, contact us immediately.

Stop the Voter Fraud! Defend Affirmative Action!

The effort to outlaw affirmative action in Michigan is proceeding to the ballot on the basis of systematic racially-targeted voter fraud perpetrated by the so-called ‘Michigan Civil Rights Initiative’ (MCRI), now known as Proposal 2. Racially-targeted fraud has no place in Michigan elections.
After a 6-month investigation, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission found that “MCRI’s efforts to change the Constitution of the State of Michigan rest on a foundation of `deliberate and orchestrated fraud… [MCRI] targeted African American citizens on a statewide basis.”
Federal District Court Judge Arthur Tarnow was unequivocal in his denunciation of the voter fraud perpetrated by the anti-affirmative action campaign. His ruling stated, “[T]he MCRI engaged in systematic voter fraud”; …if it “passes, it will be stained by well-documented acts of fraud and deception.” He also lambasted state officials for their failure to protect the integrity of Michigan elections. “[T]he state has demonstrated an almost complete institutional indifference to the credible allegations of voter fraud.” Despite his finding of systematic voter fraud, Judge Tarnow failed to remove the proposal from the ballot. The reasoning he gave was that because white voters were victims of voter fraud as well as black voters, no one would receive the protections of the Voting Rights Act. This makes no sense, and contradicts all previous applications of the Voting Rights Act in U.S. history.
Had two consecutive, independent evaluations both found systematic voter fraud permeating an effort to amend the State Constitution on any other issue, the call for its removal from the ballot would be clear, loud, bi-partisan and uncontroversial.
It is a complete scandal that the powers-that-be have allowed Prop 2 to remain on the ballot when EVERYONE KNOWS that MCRI perpetrated systematic voter fraud to gain its place on the ballot.
Right now this fraud is going forward. When it comes to attacks on civil rights and the gains women and minorities have made toward equality, the standards of integrity and honesty in elections are junked.
But the struggle to defend affirmative action doesn’t begin or end at the ballot box. If Proposal 2 passes, we will organize resistance to its implementation. We are pursuing our Voting Rights Act lawsuit which is now before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and we will challenge the legal interpretation of the law -- there are no affirmative action programs that give “racial or gender “preferences”. By building mass protests -- demonstrations, walk-outs, etc. we can both win in the courts and defend the gains of the civil rights movement.
The December 4th March on Washington to Save Brown v. Board of Education and Defend Affirmative Action (see box below) will have an enormous impact on our struggle to get Prop 2 struck down by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals if it passes in November. We must do everything in our power to make the December 4th Save Brown March big and bold. The Courts must be put on notice that this nation will not accept increased inequality and re-segregation.

What you can do:

Publicize the voter fraud perpetrated by the Prop 2 supporters
Write letters to the editor
Organize opposition to the voter fraud and attack on affirmative action in your church, union, block club, etc.
Organize a contingent to the December 4th March on Washington to Save Brown and Affirmative Action

March on Washington December 4th to
Save Brown v. Board of Education!
Defend Affirmative Action!
Desegregate American Education at ALL levels

On Monday, December 4, 2006, civil rights activists from across the nation will march and rally at the U.S. Supreme Court when oral arguments are heard in two lawsuits which seek to bar any and all measures that promote racial integration and equal opportunity in American education.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Our Racist State

Published: November 08. 2006 3:00AM
Detroit Free Press Editorial

Prop 2 Sends Divisive Message

The passage of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative on Tuesday leaves the state torn by hard and hardened feelings that will not be easily salved.

Although a ban on affirmative action might allow at least half the state to see Michigan as a place with a level playing field or some such cliche, enactment of MCRI paints the state as hostile to minorities.

Now that they've won, Proposal 2 supporters should not continue to pursue divisive challenges. When opponents raised concerns over the viability of gender-based health programs and domestic violence shelters that accommodate only women, MCRI leaders dismissed such arguments as red herrings. They must not now come back and challenge sensible programs.

Michigan's playing field, especially in education, remains woefully uneven. It will take a fortitude and an investment -- and it's not clear this state has the capacity for either -- to fix the ills that beset poor, largely African-American schools here and give those students an equal chance at success.

If the race-baiting that went on in some contested legislative districts around the state is any indication, Michigan's minorities have little reason to believe such help would be forthcoming. They will not recover easily from being again denied opportunities that had just barely come within reach.

If there is an upside, and it's mighty hard to find, at least one gender dispute might go away: Michigan's clearly disparate sports seasons for high school boys and girls. That case has wended up and down the federal court ladder, with rulings so far in favor of changing the girls' seasons to make them more comparable to the boys'. MCRI surely reinforces that.

But that's a detail. In the big picture, a ban on affirmative action sends an irreparably unfriendly message to minorities, as well as to the businesses Michigan needs to lure and that need to reach all audiences.

This is hardly progress.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Rep. Fred Upton's Shameful Voting Record

*please forward

1. Permanent Repeal of Estate Tax. HR 54970 7/29/06

Voted for permanent repeal of this tax. This tax effects 1/4 of 1% of the wealthiest US taxpayers and will cost the US treasury $1 trillion over 10 years (100B per year).

2. Reverse the Raid on Student loans. HR 609 3/30/06

Voted no on an amendment which would have cut interest on student loans from 6.8% to 3.4% and which would have provided $25 M to predominantly black institutions to encourage educational opportunities for low and middle income African Americans.

3. Energy. HR 6 7/28/05

Voted $5B in subsidies to oil companies, $9B to coal industry and $13B for new nuclear power plants with only minimal provisions for affordable or clean energy.

4. Fuel Economy Standards. HR 6 4/20/05

Voted against requiring the Dept. of Transportation to increase fuel economy standards to at least 33 mi/gal. for vehicles produced in 2015 and beyond.

5. Drilling for Oil in Artic National Wildlife Preserve. HR 5429 5/25/06

Voted for drilling thereby harming this sensitive, environmental habitat.

6. MTBE, Gasoline Additive. HR 6 4/21/05

Voted to shield MTBE manufacturers from liability lawsuits alleging contamination of drinking water.

7. Oil Refineries Protection. HR 3893 10/7/05

Voted to allow oil companies to recover fees from environmental groups that unsuccessfully bring challenges against oil companies and to minimize the ability of communities to have input on whether refineries are built in their neighborhoods.

8. Iraq Supplemental Funding Bills.

Voted for every supplemental bill supporting the beginning and continuation of the invasion/occupation of Iraq.

9. Military Tribunals and Torture. HR 6166 9/27/06

Voted to authorize the president to use military tribunals (no due process) to try suspected detainees and expand the interrogation techniques to include what most people would call torture.

10. Patriot Act. HR 3199 7/21/05

Voted to make permanent key provisions of this act which gives law enforcement officials sweeping powers which can easily abuse citizens' rights to privacy.


Stop the appointment of Judge Paul Maloney!!

A Sept. 29 Kalamazoo Gazette article on Paul Maloney by Lynn Turner is yellow journalism at it's worst. Paul Maloney
has presided over the most racist court in Michigan.
It's hard to even know where to begin.... what to say.....
This article and the likely appointment of Maloney to West Michigan
U.S. District Court Bench are troubling beyond words. Berrien
County Courthouse under Maloney boasts the following:
highest rate of convictions, highest rate of convictions of innocents,
and highest juvenile conviction rate in Michigan.

Maloney is known for making up his own laws from the bench.
Here's just one example. He threw out a recent recall
election by saying, "I'm going to make the majority the minority,
and the minority will become the majority."

In our election process, it is the majority of votes
that determine who wins. Judge Maloney's statement
means that a judge (Maloney in this case of the Benton Harbor
recall election) can rule that an election can be
decided by the minority of votes. In the recall
election there were enough valid votes (the majority)
to recall the city commissioner, but because there
appeared to be 5 invalid votes (the minority)
Maloney ruled that the city commissioner wasn't recalled
and still held his post. The minority votes won and the majority
votes lost. This now becomes case law - it sets precedent and allows
other elections to be decided in like manner.

Can we stop this appointment from happening?

Call Levin(313-226-6020) and Stabenow(313-961-4330). ASAP.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Act of Sheer Intimidation Against Rev. Pinkney

Imagine waking up at 7:30am to the sound of someone
knocking on your front door. Imagine looking out your
window to see a massive police force surrounding
your house.
Imagine this happening anywhere
besides Benton Harbor. Except, of course, 1950's Alabama.

Last Thursday, Oct. 5, 2006 this is what happened to me.
The officers who knocked on my front door were there under
the pretense of tracking down a woman who I informed them
did not live at my house. As if they didn't know. Neighbors
and friends are outraged by the number of sheriff's dept. officers
and BH police and swat team officers who filled up the neighborhood.
This was such an obvious act of intimidation. Who knows what else the
racist, corrupt power structure will attempt to do to scare me.
Unfortunately, many people are easily mislead by people in power.
We need to educate each other about how the law should work, and
about the process of change.

Make no mistake, this is just another step in the calculated process
of Whirlpool's takeover of Benton Harbor and the forced
"removal" of people of color. Profits from their dream resort
town are FAR more important than the civil rights of human beings.

Rev. Edward Pinkney
269-925-0001 anytime
1940 Union St., Benton Harbor, 49022
(much needed legal fees being accepted for my Sept. 19 frame-up trial)

VOTE OUT FRED UPTON, heir to the Whirlpool legacy!

Old saying from the street: Go for what you know.
I say: Keep your mind on freedom and freedom on your mind.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Protester of neo-nazi rally found not guilty of 2 felony charges

After an intense 2 day jury trial, anti-racist activist Jacquelyn Winkler was found Not guilty of either of two felony charges placed on her during a protest against the national socialist movement (a neo-nazi group) on April 22nd 2006. The Lansing police charged Jacquelyn with Assault of an officer, resisting arrest, and attempting to disarm a police officer. Lansing needed to win this case because of the amount of money and effort spent to protect the nazis. There were approximately 500 fully armed police officers, many in full body riot gear. Thirty police vehicles escorted and protected the nazis bus. At the protest site massive fences spanning all the way around the capitol lawn separated the boneheads from the community. Protesters were told that to get close to the capitol lawn, they had to demonstrate inside of a "protest pen". To get in you had to be fully searched, (shoes and all) walk through metal detectors, and could carry nothing in. Once you were in you were fully fenced in, with riot police and cops on horse back.

Out side of this area where protesters that refused to be searched and put in a cage just to protest genocide. Here is where the police were most focused and inevitably, most violent. Other than creative signs and banners, protesters carried instruments, mega-phones, and bucket drums, in order to make a wave of sound so enormous the would be fascists would not be able to hear their own hate message.

In order for the city to justify such a force to the unattending community they needed and example of effectiveness. Jacquelyn Winkler became their scape goat.

The actual incident occurred when without direction or warning the police approached the line of demonstrators and began taking buckets that had been set down by people who were going into the protest pen. As Jacquelyn noticed this happening she moved to grab one of our buckets.The police claim that at this point Jacquelyn attacked a SWAT officer. The truth is without any orders the police came from all sides of this 110 pound womyn, grabbing her hair, and placing her in a head lock then thrashing her to the ground and placing a very heavy knee onto her head causing head injury and loss of consciousness. After the arrest she was carried into the police station. (Under oath, several officers testified that she was flailing wildly trying to get away, other officers claim she was "dead weight"). While being booked Jacquelyn told SWAT officer Relyea she was in pain, he told her she would "be hurting a lot more soon" (he admitted this statement at trial) while he continued to pull her hair. She was later taken to the hospital and treated for head and shoulder injuries then returned to jail. She was released with felony resisting arrest and obstructing. At the preliminary exam the city added another felony. Attempting to disarm an officer. SWAT Officers Beasinger and Eichenberg claimed that during the struggle she managed to get away from 5 large police officers get to her knees and place both hands on officer Beasinger's gun and tug on it twice. At the pre trial they added even another felony, Successfully disarming an officer. Now they claimed that Jacquelyn actually managed to get the gun from Beasingers holster. This charge was dropped before trial. As for the others, when asked at trial how a 110 pound womyn could over take large officers, Beasinger testified that it was possible if the subject was "drunk or on drugs". He looked directly at the jury when this was said, actually insinuating that she was intoxicated at the time, even though he made no mention of this in his report. The entire trial lasted 2 days from 8 am to 6pm. in this time a video that was shot by a fellow activists was shown to the jury. IT showed the defenses side clearly. The prosecution tried to combat this tape, by cross examining the author and making laughable statements like "isn't it amazing how you can miraculously shoot only the parts that fit your story". And asking irrelevant questions like "do you like police?" and, "so, police are your friends?" Insinuating that while he was being shoved back by police and trying to film, he purposely moved the camera away just before she fought of 5 police and pulled ones gun, and put it back just as the police got her back on the ground. The entire trial went on like this. The prosecutor making irrational statements, and the amazing pro bono defense team shooting them down. One of the highlights of the trial was when one witness testified that the amount of force used to take down Jacquelyn was equal to the amount of force she would expect to be used to take down a "6 foot man with an AK-47" . This witness was not only a lawyer her self, but had lived years of her life in Saudi Arabia. If anyone knew what they were talking about, she did. The jury found Jaquelyn Winkler not guilty on both counts.

I see this trial as an important event in many ways. Most importantly because while it permanently destroys your faith in those in authority, it gives you some desperately needed faith in humanity again. The jurors were not stupid and they didn't just take the lies that were fed to them just because it was the police, and the city. That being said, it is important to keep in mind that privilege plays a massive role in such situations. We were lucky that our friend, Jacqui, was a white traditionally gendered, straight looking womyn without a record. S**t, it really makes you think about all of the people who don't fit into that privilege structure. That situations just as irrational and vicious as this actually go through and the authoritarians win. it happens all the time. The jails are full of these stories. However this was a major victory for all protesters everywhere. It sent a very clear message to the cops, that we will fight back, on our turf or on theirs.

written by: (A)ndy of Dein Haus Collective

Monday, September 25, 2006

Great speech

When this weblog was first created a year and a half ago,
I remember telling the webmasters that this might not be a good
idea. The police and lawyers would probably end up
taking over the blog and others may get drowned out.
They said so what? They said most people would get what's
going on and it would just be more proof of the brutal
domination by the court and cops in Berrien County.

Need I say more?

On another note, there was a fundraiser for me on Sunday -
here is the speech given by one of the attorneys who spoke:

On March 29, 2006, two days before Atty. Cherry announced that he would be retrying Rev. Pinkney on three felony counts of improper possession of absentee ballots, one felony count of influencing voters while they were voting, and one misdemeanor count of influencing voters with money, I wrote his office requesting that the case not be retried:

Dear Attorney Cherry:
I have been following the trial of Rev. Edward Pinkney(sp), and write to request that your office not proceed with retrial.

As a former trial attorney, I am familiar with the process that just completed regarding Rev. Pinkney(sp). I also understand that, without reviewing the trial transcript, I have a limited view of what took place during the proceedings. However, the jury's reported inability to make a determination beyond a reasonable doubt on each of the five counts speaks volumes.

The City of Benton Harbor has some of the most dismal economic, employment and crime statistics in the nation. The uprising during summer 2003--just months after I moved to Michigan--remains fresh in my mind. After that nightmare, the good people of Benton Harbor deserve an opportunity to heal and to raise their political voices about concerns with elected officials. I urge your office not to rub salt in these wounds with a retrial.

Thank you for your time.

Kelly A. Flint, Esq.

I find the retrial of Rev. Pinkney a truly unfortunate use of taxpayer funds, and hope that the people of Berrien County respond appropriately when the Office of Prosecuting Attorney is up for election in 2008. The Prosecuting Attorney is an elected official with a four-year term of office, as provided by the Michigan Constitution. Elections occur at the time of the Presidential election, on the partisan ballot.

Instead of focusing efforts on an election fraud matter that has already been assessed by a jury, the Berrien County prosecutor’s office could attend to the matters of representation of the County in juvenile delinquency and parental neglect cases, and advising the Department of Human Services on child abuse and neglect petitions, which strike me as much more compelling than alleged absentee ballot mishandling in a recall election.

This is further discouraging when one considers that even the worst offense Reverend Pinkney is alleged to have committed does not measure up even slightly to the very least of the alleged nationwide voter fraud in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections.

I again urge the Berrien County prosecutor’s office to withdraw its request for retrial of Reverend Pinkney and use the resources of the office to focus its legal pursuits on matters that ensure the protection of Benton Harbor citizens, and the children of Benton Harbor in particular.

Kelly A. Flint, Esq.

--Rev. Edward Pinkney

Friday, September 15, 2006

Tim Wise in Grand Rapids, October 11

This increasingly well-known and sought after anti-racism speaker and writer will be giving a talk in Grand Rapids on October 11. If you go to his website,, you can get the details. He has spoken in 48 states and on over 400 college campuses. He has trained teachers as well as corporate, government, media, and law enforcement officials on methods for dismantling institutionalized racism and has served as a consultant for plaintiff's attorneys in federal discrimination cases in NY and Washington state. One of his books is "White Like Me."
See more about Mr. Wise at

Monday, September 11, 2006

Words Can Hardly Describe this Level of Injustice

**spread this far and wide

(how much longer will Michigan allow this in Berrien County?)

Shannon David McKinney was found guilty today by a Berrien County jury. The charge was possession of marijuana. There were .00004 grams of marijuana planted by officer Collins and officer Bernard Hall. Both claim it was in McKinney's pocket. Mr. McKinney does not smoke or sell marijuana.

Court-appointed attorney Berger from Berger & Laforge law firm refused to subpoena witnesses for the defendant to prove that officer Collins and Hall planted the marijuana or to find that there was no marijuana at all.

McKinney had several witnesses who would testify that he had no marijuana in his possession. He told the judge that court-appointed attorney Berger refused to subpoena his witnesses. McKinney recorded the phone conversation without attorney Berger's knowledge. During the conversation Berger made several statements in reference to witnesses and told McKinney he refused to subpeona witnesses and that McKinney could do nothing about it. McKinney played the tape for me.

Before the trial started and before she heard any evidence, Judge Angela Pasula told the defendant, "You are going to trial and then to jail." Judge Angela Pasula, the prosecutor, and court-appointed attorney Berger were a team against Mr. McKinney.

Legal malpractice has been defined in Michigan by a series of cases beginning with Babbit v Bumpus. The Michigan Supreme court defined legal malpractice in Michigan as any professional misconduct - acts by your attorney that cause you to suffer a damage.

Since I have been a court observer in Berrien County, I have seen thousands of people just like Mr. Shannon McKinney. Who will be next? When are the good people of this county, this state, this country going to stand up and say enough is enough. There will be a war soon and Berrien County courthouse and law enforcement will not win.

Rev. Edward Pinkney

Friday, September 01, 2006

Berrien County: Atty - "Your mother said you should plead guilty"

**please forward

As I spend each day as a court observer in the Berrien County Courthouse of Horrors, certain patterns have become obvious. One that is most common is the use of the word "mother."

A typical example was yesterday when court appointed attorney Scott Sanford told a 15 year old boy that his mother said he should plead guilty. That boy had the courage to tell the judge his mother said no such thing. (His mother was present in the courtroom.) However, since the guilty plea was already in, the judge would not take it away.

This boy received 23 years in prison for allegedly attacking a guard in the Juvenile Center. All because the court appointed attorney told a lie.

Amercan prisons are full of wrongfully convicted persons. Many were coerced into admitting to crimes they did not committed by court appointed attorney`s threats that the prosecutor will pile on more charges. We must examine the moral, judcial, and constitutional implications of the push to resolve cases by pressuring defendants into plea agreements, guilty or not.

Rev. Edward Pinkney
269-925-0001 anytime
1940 Union St., Benton Harbor, 49022
(much needed legal fees being accepted for my Sept. 19 frame-up trial)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Court Appointed Attys: Anybody Can Do Their Job

If you are still using court appointed attorneys, I will be happy to provide you with those same services for nothing. This will include all of the following: ignoring all your phone calls and letters, ignoring family members badgering you to plead quilty to a crime you never commited, working to collaborate with prosecutors and judges against your best interest and, if you are in jail, postponing your court date over and over again until you plead quilty.

The Berrien county court appointed attorneys should be independent from political influence. However, in Berrien county the court appointed attorneys, prosecutors and judges are on the same team with the very same goal: convicting innocent poor people.
Over and over again we have seen the court appointed attorney not interviewing the client until the actual court appearance and then while actually in the courtroom! They seldom call or supeona witnsses for trial.

These court appointed attorneys are never supervised or systematically reviewed for quality and efficiency as mandated by national and locally applied standards--not in Berrien County.

Berrien County, MI is in constitutional chaos as the police, prosecutors, politicians and judges are using the machinery of government to execorably grind away at the those rights and liberties gauranteed to all Americans under the constitution and the Bill of Rights. In Berrien County agencies of the state will often arrest without warrant, spy without legal authority, imprison without charge and even kill without just cause or reason.

We urge our readers to take the Benton Harbor struggle into YOUR community and bring your community into Benton Harbor. In this way we can begin building a broader awareness of what is at stake for everyone of us. Today they are coming for the poor and oppressed in Benton Harbor. Tomorrow they will be coming for you in the very same way: by denying your rights as American citizens. Hold the line. Stop them in Benton Harbor and take a step towards justice and a fair shake for us all.

Rev. Edward Pinkney
269-925-0001 anytime

Monday, August 21, 2006

I was just taking a walk...

**Please forward - the world must know

I received a phone call from a young woman, Keisha Nicole Terry, and filed a complaint at the police station after hearing what happened to her at the hands of Benton Harbor Township police officers at 10pm, Monday, August 14, 2006:

"Both officers harrassed, degraded, and intimidated me with threats to make me afraid. The officers attacked my self-esteem as a woman. Officer Skinner kicked me several times and caused my legs to swell, then he pushed me in the chest and begin touching me in places a male should not touch without my permission. Then Officer McKenize began to illegally search me by patting me down and putting his hand under my shirt, then taking his hand and putting it in my pants, under my pant legs. He told me to take my ass across the street after the illegal search. Officer McKenize was waiting for me while Officer Skinner was belittling me. I told both police officers that they can't search me, being a female, unless there was a serious need to search me or if they feel like I was a threat to them. This was not the case in this circumstance - there was no crime. [Due to the laws and procedures of Michigan, a male officer of any kind can't search any female without a female officer being present.] I was not endangering myself or others. I was walking down the street and was attacked by two white police officers. Then Officer Skinner told me to sit on the hood of his hot car. I replied by saying that the hood was hot, it was too hot for me to sit on. He told me to put my face on the hood of the car. I refused. He kicked me again about three times which caused me pain and suffering as well as mental and emotional pain.

My friend and myself both asked them what we did wrong. Officer McKenize stated, "this is what happens when you live in Benton Harbor or Benton Township."

This kind of law enforcement behavior towards BH residents has been going on for decades, and has been on the upswing in the last four months or so. WHEN WILL IT STOP? WHEN WILL GOV. GRANHOLM INTERVENE? We know that these officers don't display brutality without orders from Chief Mingo. How high do the orders come from? Whirlpool most likely. Human rights mean nothing to one of America's greediest corporations - - 70% of the world's appliance market is their's, yet they must own Benton Harbor. (For the record, Officer Collins is one of the worst and everyone knows it.)

We must stop the police brutality in Benton Harbor and Benton Township, Michigan. Police are paid to serve and protect, not to serve and harass. When will it stop? When will we say, enough is enough? We better start keeping our mind on our freedom and our freedom on our mind.

Rev. Edward Pinkney
BANCO, 1940 Union St., Benton Harbor, MI 49022
(legal fees being accepted and very much needed for my Sept.19 frame-up trial)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

How the Government Manipulated the War on Drugs to Create a Slave Prison Market

By Rev. Edward Pinkney

Beware, poor Blacks, Hispanics, whites -- and all the have-nots. Each of you out there better start keeping your mind on your freedom and your freedom on your mind. UNICOR is the proud symbol of a government owned corporation for the prison industry with 100 or more factories operating inside Federal prisons. The CEO of UNICOR and Congress get cheap labor from 23 cents to $1.15 per hour from factory working inmates. Are they from South Africa? No! from Cuba? No! from Mexico? No! The inmates come from poor communities scattered across this nation. When translated, this means that a whole lot of poor Blacks, Hispanics, and whites, the have-nots, are in serious trouble, in life-threatening danger.

Inmates are one of this country's greatest assets. With the average Federal inmate serving time related to drug offices, inmates are becoming one of the government's most precious "drug law commodities." What makes this so scandalous is that it was orchestrated and systematically brought into existence through our nation's so-called "war on drugs," or what is actually, the Feds' counterfeit fake drug war.

In addition, minorities are 76% of the prison population while 79.5% of the government's judicial and Bureau of Prisons staff (judges, prosecutors, agents, counselors, nurses and prison guards,) are white. Is there any doubt that this is a clear-cut manifestation of institutionalized racism? How can they justify this?

Contrary to popular belief, the true agenda of the "war on drugs" was never to stop nor significantly curtail the large flow of illegal drugs entering the United States (which it failed to accomplish). Instead,the main objectives of the "war on drugs" were to:

1. Boost UNICOR profits by maximizing its inmate labor.
2. Create a large and long term viable job market for the primary benefit of American capitalists.
3. Achieve these objectives at the primary and immediate expense of America's poor population: Blacks, Hispanics, and poor whites.

All three of these politically tyrannical goals have been successfully accomplished. The State and Federal UNICOR prison industry is booming. Prison population has risen more than 1500% between 1981 and 2006.

With this in mind, you should now have a clear understanding as to the true reason behind our nation's long running and seemingly incurable illegal drug problem. Poor Blacks, Hispanics, whites and all you have-nots better start keeping your mind on your freedom and freedom on your mind.

This article originated in the People's Tribune
PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654, 773-486-3551,
Feel free to reproduce unless marked as copyrighted.
Please include this message with reproductions of the article.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Women, Blacks, Hispanics, and Poor Whites will no longer support Jennifer Granholm

A press release dated June 27, 2003 stated Governor Jennifer Granholm followed
through on her committment to the people of Benton Harbor by naming a task force only to help restore opportunity and hope to the citizens of Benton Harbor by addressing issues of critical importance. This was right after the 2003 uprising.

In theory this task force appeared to be above board, but in reality, this was just another one of her schemes to engineer the citizens into the court system to generate federal funding. The citizens of Michigan have to be aware that everything that involves the court system is tied to grants that women, blacks, hispanics, poor whites, can not get. This is why people who are black, hispanics, and poor are suffering some type of crisis in the state.

Governor Jennifer Granholm appointed Alfred Butzbaugh to judgeship in Berrien County, Michigan. Butzbaugh is a well known racist. He has accumulated a long list of judicial misconduct, ethics violations, and civil rights violations.

We can not allow Jennifer Granholm to have another term. Under the Granholm
administration people have been destroyed in one way or another. I will not vote for her and am asking all women, blacks, hispanics, and poor whites not to vote for Jennifer Granholm. Call your family members - we need your support to stop Jennifer Granholm.
Do not vote for Jennifer Granholm. REV. EDWARD PINKNEY wants everybody to refrain from casting your ballot for Jennifer Granholm.

With respect,
Rev. Pinkney, 269-925-0001 anytime

Sunday, July 30, 2006


Judicial, prosecutorial, and police misconduct have forced county prosecutor Jim Crow Cherry to resign. We had high hopes that prosecutor Cherry would resign in January, 2006.

On Friday the Berrien County prosecutor announced that he will resign from the prosecutors office as of Aug 24, 2006. This is truly a major victory for the people of Berrien County. Cherry, age 57, looking much older and depressed, said his declining health is forcing him to resign.

Deuteronomy 28-15;20......But it shall come to pass,if thou wilt not harken unto the voice of the lord thy God,to observe to do all his commandments thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee, cursed shall thou be in the city and cursed shall thou in the field, cursed shall be thy basket and thy store. Cursed. Cursed shall the fruit of thy body and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, cursed shall thou be when thou comest in,and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out. The Lord shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou setting thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly because of all the wickedness of thy doing,whereby thou has forsaken me.

Jim Crow Cherry, who was full of evil and wickedness was diagnosed with throat cancer after fabricating evidence during the recall trial. On July 13, 2005 GOD said I shall curse the fruit of thy body. Cherry then underwent months of treatment that
included chemotherapy radiation surgery.

In January, 2006 Cherry attempted to resume work, because Rev. Pinkney's trial would start in March, 2006. Cherry said the treatment administered at Lakeland hospital in St. Joseph, Mi., known to blacks and hispanics as the "killer hospital" had been sucessful at this time, but GOD said, "no!" Cherry's cancer was diagnosed during an examination for a sore throat. A panendoscopy, a procedure that allows a doctor to look inside the esophagus and sinuses, confirmed the cancer. The curse shall be the fruit of Jim crow Cherry's body for all the wickedness of his doing.

All the wickedness and evil of judge Alfred scumbaugh Butzbaugh, judge Paul Maloney, judge Scott Schofield, judge Dennis Wiley: All these curses shall come upon them and take them. The fall of the evil empire in Berrien County is comming.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Honesty at the Herald Palladium

William F. Ast III, St. Joseph, Michigan
Herald-Palladium reporter is to
be commended for breaking with tradition. He
wrote an honest article about a court case in
Berrien County. Never before has the paper
reported on jury tampering, but Mr. Ast has finally
come clean, hopefully starting a new trend at
the H-P.

Attorneys from around the state who have worked
in the Berrien County court have known for decades
about the corrupt techniques rampant in the system.
Until now these have not been reported in the

Below are some edited sections from Ast's 6/8/06 headline article which can be
read in its entirety.

"Peter Samouris said in addition to plan to appeal the decision, there are other legal issues he wants to explore, including some double jeopardy issues and the possibility of jury misconduct. Two jurors complained about intimidation [& possibly a plant on the jury]. Attorney Peter Samouris said he moved for a mistrial on Thursday based on that, but [we know that] Judge Butzbaugh denied his motion.

After saying they could not reach a verdict Thursday, jury members Friday found the former nurse guilty of sexually assaulting a patient at Lakeland Regional Medical Center in St. Joseph, Michigan.

The jury in the Dave Lall trial, which began deliberations June 30, deliberated all day Thursday before sending Berrien County trial court judge Alfred Butzbaugh a note saying it could not reach a unanimous verdict. But the judge once again sent them home for the night and
told them to resume their talks on Friday [almost begging the jury to find this man guilty].

lall, 37, was on trial for the second time. Last year a Berrien County jury found him not guilty of delivery of a controlled substance with the intent to commit sexual assault, but it was unable to reach a verdict on the charge of first degree criminal sexual conduct."

Rev. Edward Pinkney
BANCO, 1940 Union St., Benton Harbor, MI 49022
(legal fees being accepted and very much needed for my Sept. 19 trial)

Friday, June 30, 2006

Bush nominates racist judge Maloney

Judge Paul Maloney, Berrien County trial court chief judge, claims he is both honored and humbled by Bush`s decision to nominate him for one of the three vacant federal judgeships in the western district of Michigan. This is his reward for his work on George Bush Sr.'s campaign team.

Paul Maloney, a judge who has openly practiced racism, stated that he is deeply honored by the president for paying him back for working on his father's campaign.

Maloney promised that if he is confirmed by the senate he will apply the law fairly and impartially to all who appear in his courtroom, according to the rules of the law.

Mr. Maloney: you have failed the people of Berrien County, and used law enforcement bribery and coercion. False testimony is common in Berrien county under your leadership. Your insensitivity to the dignity of litigants who have appeared in your courtroom has brought the integrity of the legal system into question. Maloney, you have failed to apply the law fairly and impartially in the county of Berrien.

Mr. Maloney: We do not need a man like you as a district judge in the federal court. That is a tremendous opportunity. You are not qualified to receive such a job.

We must write letters to senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow.
Maloney's confirmation hearing is next Wed., July 5.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Judge Maloney supervises the racket of extortion, bribes, and extreme corruption in the Berrien County Courthouse

There is extreme corruption in the judiciary system in Berrien county. The main problem is that it doesn`t admit to the obvious: the corruption. You do not know about the corruption because the media doesn`t report it. They might admit to a single bad apple now and then, but bad apples are everywhere: on top of the barrel, in the middle, on the bottom.....everywhere. The media refuses to report it for what it is.

The legal system here has been created to be corrupt and to make injustice look normal. This is the uniqueness of the Berrien county legal system. It exists to make money for attorneys, judges, and the county. In order to do so, they created extortionist attorneys. The judge extorts the attorney. The attorneys comply with everything the judges ask - this can only be explained as extreme greed which has become an integral part of Berrien county's legal system.

Attorneys fear the judiciary because the system is built in this they can be easily be extortable to the judge ...The judge can easily accept money from one party and extort the attorney of the party's opponent and then close a case without knowing or hearing anything about the facts or the law. People who believe that they come to a court to decide their case based on the facts and the law are terribly mistaken. It is a mecca of siphoning money to the attorneys, judges, and the county.

Congress is part of the problem. Most congressmen, like Fred Upton, are attorneys who are afraid of the judiciary system, afraid to be disbarred and sanctioned, and look forward to the time they are out of congress and free to join the corruption and make a buck for themselves. Therefore they cannot be part of the solution. Recent polls support my claim that show that most of Berrien county citizens believe that their congress reps., senators, and judges take bribes.

The Berrien county courthouse supervises the racket of extortion, bribes, and extreme corruption. The Berrien county judiciary is liable for damage and injuries to the people of Benton Harbor, Michigan, comparable to what Nazis inflicted upon Jews.

An all-white jury is unfair to a Black defendant

A member of the jury stated that Rev. Pinkney was down seven votes before any evidence was presented in his trial. The Whirlpool game and County Clerk Stine's first cousin were in control. The jury was tainted from the start of the trial. Berrien County prosecutors and law enforcement officers attempted to influence the jury outside the court, offering bribes, coercing, making threats or asking acquaintances to intercede with the jury.

There is an unwritten policy in Berrien County. When it comes to Benton Harbor residents, county District Attorney James Cherry has an unwritten policy in violation of the federal law, excluding Blacks and Jews from juries in any criminal cases.

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that jury pools must represent a fair cross-section of the county. This is a well-kept secret in the United States--the extreme corruption of the United States judiciary system.

The system that picks people for jury duty in Berrien County consistently overlooks Blacks and minorities and favors whites. The jurors are supposed to be selected at random--not so in Berrien County. People living in white neighborhoods are twenty-five times as likely to be called for jury service than residents of Black neighborhoods. While one in five adults in the county are Black, fewer than one in every seventy people in the jury room is Black. This imbalance leads many people in Benton Harbor to cast a reasonable doubt on the promise and purpose of the courts to provide a fair trial by a jury of one's peers. While Blacks don't get the same chance to judge, there is no shortage of them being judged. Over a 12-month period, Black defendants in jury trials outnumber whites 30-2. Presiding over all those trials are white criminal judges. If you see no one on the jury that represents you socially, economically, or racially and the jury is about to judge the appropriateness of your action, you can see why somebody might be very, very wary of the jury. An all-white jury is unfair to a Black defendant.

Benton Harbor, Michigan, has more Black Americans in prison per capita than any other city and now the state wants the death penalty. We must stand up and fight. There is a war going on, the haves against the have-nots, rich against poor, class against class. If we do not hang together, we will surely hang separately.

Rev. Edward Pinkney
BANCO, 1940 Union St., Benton Harbor, MI 49022
(legal fees being accepted and very much needed for my Sept. 19 trial)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

No, Whirlpool Will Not Provide Jobs in Benton Harbor

National Public Radio: "200 jobs are coming to Benton Harbor."
This is the biggest lie there is. Believe me, past history shows us that the last thing Whirlpool will do for Benton Harbor residents is provide jobs. Years ago, Whirlpool outsourced most of our jobs for cheap labor. People were not a part of their considerations. At all. The only real news about jobs is that the city of Benton Harbor just laid off 13 employees. Here is a report from Sandy in Chicago:

Saturday, June 17, 2006
NPR had a 3 1/2 minute radio piece on Benton Harbor today saying 200 jobs and hundreds of homes are coming into Benton Harbor and the city is getting back on its feet with downtown art galleries opening and events, etc. A Whirlpool representative was on saying that that employers left because of the workforce - BH workers don't have the confidence and skills for the jobs! Also, that 300 homes are being built. They had a poor resident on the program saying she's getting one of them. (This sounds similar to a Chicago program that opened a few homes in a condo project to the poor.) They also mentioned that 1/2 of homes are boarded up and many still don't have hope that things will change. You can listen at . Tony in Washington sent us this information; he suggested that someone do a letter to morning edition about it. It aired on the NPR affiliate stations.

Also: announced that up to 13 Benton Harbor city employees could be laid off later this month..commissioners approved a $7.6 million budget for the next fiscal year, which is about $500,000 less than last year. The city manager blames it on cuts in state revenue and the expiration of the city's enterprise zone. He says the layoffs will be across the board. announces that 400 jobs are coming to BH from Whirlpool.

Rev. Edward Pinkney
BANCO, 1940 Union St., Benton Harbor, MI 49022
(legal fees being accepted and very much needed for my Sept. 19 trial)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Infant Deaths Rise in Benton Harbor

**please forward widely

As reported in the recent issue of the People's Tribune, available at Michigan News in Kalamazoo and Encore Records in Ann Arbor,
also online at

"Benton Harbor has the highest infant death rate per capita in Michigan. More than 85% of the Berrien County deaths that occurred were among African-Americans born in Benton Harbor and Benton Township. Of every 1000 African-American babies born from 1997-99, 31.7% in the county died before their first birthday, compared to 5.5% for Caucasian Babies. Berrien County Health Department officials have never cared about this situation. It has been going on for a long, long time, it's increasing, and there's no excuse for it. The Health Department should be fighting for the goverrnment to provide quality healthcare for everyone. Once again, it's the haves against the have-nots."

Rev. Edward Pinkney
BANCO, 1940 Union St., Benton Harbor, MI 49022
(legal fees being accepted and very much needed for my Sept. 19 trial)


Monday, June 12, 2006

Florida House candidate falsely arrested while fighting corruption by local officials

In Alachua, Florida, city officials are using false arrest and harassment to try to intimidate a citizen fighting election corruption. And behind the power struggle over control of the city is millions of dollars in development deals. Sound familiar?

Charles Grapski says: "If you can clean up one city, you can clean up the whole country. But if you can’t clean up one city, we have no chance at the national level. I see a lot of significance in this one case, because it is a small example of what’s going on nationally, and it’s a lot easier to tackle corruption at the local level, which is the root and foundation of national problems. I’m confident in the end that in terms of justice, I know that what we are doing is on the side of justice. What these officials know is that they have the power and authority and they can abuse it with very little repercussions to themselves normally. They have a lot of power and resources. They are used to people being afraid to stand up….But as long as we keep fighting and pushing this issue, I believe in the end that we will prevail."

See full article here and more details at The Alachua Project.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Yes, this is actually happening in Michigan

*please forward widely

The false allegations about me must become common knowledge.

If a judge can sit on the bench and make laws and change laws to void any election or cancel your vote, we are in trouble. If it can happen in Benton Harbor, Michgan, it can and it will happen in other parts of the country.

The justification which judge Paul Maloney gave for his ruling showed a disturbingly elastic view of the law. The Associated Press wire story of April 15, 2006, the day of judge Maloney's ruling, quoted the judge as saying, "Because of Rev. Pinkney's massive fraudulent activities, there may be other votes that were similarly induced." There were only five votes that may have been "tainted", the average number for any election.

The prosecutor and the sheriff's dept. coerced and paid witnesses to give false testimony in the first mistrial. Now the sheriff's dept. is going inside the jails and in the streets attempting to coerce and bribe anybody who will testify against me in the Sept. 19 trial - whether they were around or not for the first trial, whether they were involved, whether they know anything......none of this matters. They will simply tell them exactly what to say and pay them to say it. The sheriff's dept. is telling people if they give false testimony the jury will never know.

This type of law enforcement bribery, coercion, false testimony are common in Berrien County, Michigan. It is absolutely unbelievable. It has been allowed to go on for so many years.

I NEED YOUR HELP: We have a excellent opportunity to expose a broken system. I still owe well over twenty thousand dollars of my first legal fee of forty thousand. The second trial will be well over forty thousand dollars.

I need your donations as soon as possible. Please do not send me out to fight without any weapons. I need your help. Any amount would be appreciated. I am appealing to justice-loving people who live anywhere and everywhere. I vow to keep fighting and working for the people and will defeat all charges.

Please Send Tax-Deductible Donation To:

1940 Union St.
Benton Harbor, MI

Call anytime and Thank You for any consideration
you can give me and the people of Benton Harbor,
Rev. Edward Pinkney

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Whirlpool Moves Closer to Monopoly With Government Blessing

I can think of only two words to describe the following: ABSOLUTELY OUTRAGEOUS

Whirlpool bought Maytag in March, so, the former Maytag executives are moving to Berrien County and Whirlpool is building extravagant homes for them. The majority of the money for this huge expenditure is coming from none other than MICHIGAN TAXPAYERS. By signing off on a 10.4 MILLION dollar tax break specifically for the purpose of building these mansions, Gov. Jennifer Granholm is selling out taxpayers by forcing us to bear this burden. Whirlpool is shelling out 5 million to help build the mansions.

Whirlpool Corporation, Benton Harbor, Mich., the world's largest appliance maker will close three factories and cut 4500 jobs. After the 1.68 billion dollar purchase of Maytag Corp., Whirlpool now owns over 70% of all washers and dryers in the world. This near-monopoly is made possible by government at all levels.

The cuts include 1000 jobs at a plant in Herrin,Ill.(downstate) and another 70 jobs at a Maytag adminstration office in Schaumburg,Ill. Both buildings are closing.

The washer and dryer plants in Searcy,Ark. will close by the end of this year(1700 jobs) and one in Newton, Iowa will shut down in the year 2007(1730 jobs). Several people from the Newton, Iowa plant contacted me and asked for help. I told them the only way you can beat a corporation like Whirlpool is to boycott the product that the company makes. I promised the people in Newton that I would do all I can to help.

By eliminating these 4500 jobs, the Benton Harbor based Whirlpool Corp. has continued to suck the life out of the residents not only in Benton Harbor, but the rest of the country, one city at a time, wherever Whirlpool products are sold and where jobs are lost.

Maytag did not want to outsource their American jobs to China, South Korea, and Mexico. Whirlpool was quicker to go overseas to outsource as many jobs as possible. Maytag has been almost exclusively in the United States. But now, Whirlpool will outsource over 50% of all Maytag jobs which they do not eliminate.

We Must Boycott all Whirlpool products. Once again, Whirlpool widens the gap between the haves and the have nots. We must say enough is enough.


Friday, May 26, 2006

Number of US Inmates Rises Two Percent

We know that the racist, "make-up-our-own-laws" Berrien County Courthouse
in St. Joseph, MI contributes mightily to this injustice. And Lansing & Granholm turn a deaf ear.

By Elizabeth White
The Associated Press
Monday 22 May 2006
Washington - Prisons and jails added more than 1,000 inmates each week for a year, putting almost 2.2 million people, or one in every 136 US residents, behind bars by last summer.
The total on June 30, 2005, was 56,428 more than at the same time in 2004, the government reported Sunday. That 2.6 percent increase from mid-2004 to mid-2005 translates into a weekly rise of 1,085 inmates.
Of particular note was the gain of 33,539 inmates in jails, the largest increase since 1997, researcher Allen J. Beck said. That was a 4.7 percent growth rate, compared with a 1.6 percent increase in people held in state and federal prisons.
Prisons accounted for about two-thirds of all inmates, or 1.4 million, while the other third, nearly 750,000, were in local jails, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Beck, the bureau's chief of corrections statistics, said the increase in the number of people in the 3,365 local jails is due partly to their changing role. Jails often hold inmates for state or federal systems, as well as people who have yet to begin serving a sentence.
"The jail population is increasingly unconvicted," Beck said. "Judges are perhaps more reluctant to release people pretrial."
The report by the Justice Department agency found that 62 percent of people in jails have not been convicted, meaning many of them are awaiting trial.
Overall, 738 people were locked up for every 100,000 residents, compared with a rate of 725 at mid-2004. The states with the highest rates were Louisiana and Georgia, with more than 1 percent of their populations in prison or jail. Rounding out the top five were Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma.
The states with the lowest rates were Maine, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire.
Men were 10 times to 11 times more likely than women to be in prison or jail, but the number of women behind bars was growing at a faster rate, said Paige M. Harrison, the report's other author.
The racial makeup of inmates changed little in recent years, Beck said. In the 25-29 age group, an estimated 11.9 percent of black men were in prison or jails, compared with 3.9 percent of Hispanic males and 1.7 percent of white males.
Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, which supports alternatives to prison, said the incarceration rates for blacks were troubling.
"It's not a sign of a healthy community when we've come to use incarceration at such rates," he said.
Mauer also criticized sentencing guidelines, which he said remove judges' discretion, and said arrests for drug and parole violations swell prisons.
"If we want to see the prison population reduced, we need a much more comprehensive approach to sentencing and drug policy," he said.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Corporate Welfare for Whirlpool, the world's largest appliance manufacturer

On Tuesday, May 16 the Herald Palladium reported that the state of Michigan is awarding Whirlpool Corporation of Benton Harbor a tax abatement of a whopping 10.4 million dollars. Whirlpool plans to build homes for the new Maytag execs to the tune of $5 million dollars. Giving tax abatements (which is simply handing over money we pay the government in taxes to corporations) is a tool to make the rich get richer. And we know what's happening to the poor. Whirlpool received this enormous gift from the government at about the same time they reported
net sales of $3.5 billion - the best ever for the first quarter and up 10 percent from the year-earlier period. Something is very, very wrong with this picture.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Berrien County Bribery & Coercion

*please forward widely

I have documentation proving that the Berrien
County Prosecutor and the Berrien County
Sherrif's Dept. successfully coerced and
paid witnesses to give false testimony in my trial,
and attempted to do the same with others.

Please let Margaret Chiara, US Atty. for the
Western District of Michigan know that you
would like to see this situation investigated
thoroughly. This is a travesty of justice.

Either email or send her a note thru the US

United States Attorney's Office
Western District of Michigan
P.O. Box 208
Grand Rapids, MI 49501-0208

Info on Ms. Chiara can be found at:

This type of law enforcement (bribery, coersion)
is common in this county, and is ILLEGAL.
Please do a simple thing to get it investigated:
contact atty. Chiara.

With respect and many thankyou's,
Rev. Edward Pinkney

Media Censorship in St. Joe

The courthouse in St. Joseph, Michigan is barring journalists from entering and reporting on court activities - except, of course, those from the Herald Palladium. The Michigan Citizen and Peoples' Tribune ( have both been turned away. Is the ACLU willing to get involved to right this wrong? NAACP? Not so far. Have we gone crazy as a society to allow this? It's been too many years of this geographically isolated community getting away with illegalities not heard of elswhere. When will the Department of Justice and other groups finally get involved?

In case you have not read Phil Bassett's excellent piece of writing on Rev. Pinkney, the trial he was framed for, and the coming retrial, it's posted on this weblog.

Asking for money is always a humiliating endeavor. So, here goes. If everyone who signed the statement of support were to send Rev. Pinkney $100.00, it would make a dent in his $30,000.00 legal fees.

Help take away the power of the St. Joseph-Whirlpool dominated group of elites who want Rev. Pinkney removed from their plate so they can, without exposure, continue to eradicate African-Americans from Benton Harbor and build up the lake front property for their own profit. Their plan is to ruin him financially, have him stressed to the max for months, then put him behind bars for at least 20 years. These are people without guilt, shame, or any feelings of humanitarian caring. They live in close proximity to severe poverty and order law enforcement to come down hard on those already suffering. The last thing they need is Rev. Pinkney shining a light on them. Pinkney has gone virtually everywhere one can go for assistance, but deaf ears are mostly what he finds - especially from Gov. Granholm's office. Whirlpool has a long reach. Read about the latest "good will" bestowed on the world by Whirlpool at the end of this email.

It's come down to one person, Rev. Edward Pinkney, fighting one of the world's largest corporations, Whirlpool. He needs help.

Send a tax-deductible check to: BANCO, 1940 Union St, Benton Harbor, MI 49022.
Call Rev. Pinkney anytime: 269-925-0001

The Latest on Whirlpool

You probably have read about the Whirlpool layoffs in recent news. In addition here is a link to articles from a few years ago about Whirlpools flight to Mexico and other planned shut downs in case you're interested. --

Whirlpool to cut 4,500 jobs, close plants
Updated 5/10/2006 12:56 PM ET

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Whirlpool (WHR) said Wednesday that it will eliminate 4,500 jobs by closing three plants and consolidating corporate offices and other sites following its purchase of rival appliance maker Maytag.
The moves come in the wake of Whirlpool's $1.8 billion acquisition of Maytag on March 31, extending its lead as the nation's biggest appliance maker.
Whirlpool plans to close Maytag washer and dryer plants in Newton, Iowa; Herrin, Ill.; and Searcy, Ark. Laundry manufacturing sites in Clyde, Ohio, and Marion, Ohio, will absorb the production, Whirlpool spokesman Daniel Verakis said.
Also slated to close are Maytag's corporate headquarters and research center in Newton, Iowa, as well as administrative offices in Schaumburg, Ill., Canada and Mexico.
Verakis said Whirlpool said the functions of the former Maytag corporate headquarters will be consolidated with those in Benton Harbor, where Whirlpool is based.......

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Civil Rights Leader Gets Reprieve

by Phil Bassett, from the Kalamazoo Voice, Friday, May 5, 2006

Claiming charges of voter fraud, authorities in St. Joseph/Benton Harbor attempted to silence a popular dissident in late March of this year. In a case marred by confusing premises, questionable witnesses, and a glaring lack of hard evidence, the prosecution failed to win the confidence of the jury in the recent trial of Reverend Edward Pinkney, which ended in a hung jury.

A tireless activist, Pinkney successfully engineered a recall of a commissioner using absentee ballots, but accusers claimed he paid others to vote and handled some of the ballots personally. The city brought in a string of witnesses saying the Reverend paid them to vote, and a pile of ballots that supposedly had something wrong with them After Pinkney's attorney, Tat Parrish, skillfully cross-examined several witnesses and provided overwhelmingly superior closing arguments, it's a small miracle that the government was able to achieve a stalemate, let alone a conviction.

For instance, Mr. Parrish pointed out that with all the time and attention devoted to this case, the prosecution failed to produce a single fingerprint on any of the envelopes that Reverend Pinkney supposedly handled. Ditto for DNA from any spit used to seal the envelopes. In fact, the prosecution's entire case seemed to rest on a big pile of correctly voted absentee ballots, along with five or so incorrectly voted ones, mixed with a healthy dose of deception, confusion and mysterious innuendo. Add to that about eight people to badmouth the Reverend, and you stir up just enough dust to confuse a jury.

Prosecutor Gerry Vigansky's stable of witnesses was not impressive. Close to half of them are known to be crack cocaine addicts. This is not a statement of their value as people, but it is common street knowledge that crack addicts can be easily manipulated for money. And get this—two of Vigansky's witnesses were involved in a drive-by shooting; one was the driver, the other, the shooter. They are known to have committed these crimes, yet have not been prosecuted. How easily could they be induced to lie on the witness stand, if someone offered their potential freedom in exchange?

The prosecution's most credible witness, Reverend Foster, claimed heart trouble during his cross-examination when questions got touchy, and pulled out a bottle of nitro glycerin. Shortly after, the judge excused him.

Mr. Vigansky's case was riddled with diatribes designed to confuse rather than enlighten. His mostly hot-air strategy involved subjecting witnesses (and observers) to a monotonous litany of non-evidence presented to the jury as if it mattered. He droned on and on about different colors of ink on applications for absentee ballots, and meticulously noted differences in handwriting on the forms. What he failed to inform the jury is that neither of these things is a crime, and with all likelihood, it was the clerks who filled in the blanks with the correct information, not Pinkney, as was suggested. And, as Mr. Parrish pointed out, if handwriting was to be considered evidence, why didn't they bring in a handwriting expert?

There was confusion throughout the trial over the ballots themselves, the envelopes and the applications for ballots. Prosecution and defense alike would use the terms interchangeably, and would rush to correct themselves. I doubt very much if half the members of the jury knew before this trial that it is a felony to handle an absentee ballot unless you are the voter, the voter's family, a mail carrier or a registered election official. I didn't. But this is what the Reverend was being charged with, and he was facing twenty years. The lesser charge, paying people to vote, is only a misdemeanor. Figure that one out. (A side note: City Clerk Jean Nesbitt was fired from her position as a result of the recall, even though two of her former assistants testified at this trial that she never handled any ballots.)

The prosecutor made a big deal about certain stickers or styles of stamps appearing again and again on ballot envelopes. But Reverend Pinkney freely admitted on the stand to handing out stamps to help in the election effort. And the stickers, he said, were the return address of City Hall, to make sure the ballots made it to where they needed to go, even if they were returned. Looking at it that way, he was doing something that was not only okay, but admirable in a political sense. He was trying to win the election.

The prosecution spent some time on the fact that some ballot envelopes had stamps that weren't cancelled, implying that Pinkney had carried them to the clerk's office. But it is possible for stamps to come out not cancelled at times, especially on odd-sized envelopes, and folks have occasionally been known to put a stamp on an envelope, and then deliver it themselves. None of this implicated the Reverend. Take away the testimony of a motley crew of unreliable witnesses, and this becomes total speculation on the part of the prosecutor.

Several witnesses were caught in outright lies. One claimed that Reverend Pinkney had at least five blank absentee ballots in his hand at one point. But questioning of city clerk workers revealed that it would have been impossible to steal ballots without being detected, as the ballots are numbered sequentially and signed for when turned in.

There was lying going on outside the courtroom as well. I approached Glen Yarbrough, the commissioner who was recalled, during one of the breaks. Since I had heard some derogatory things about him, I wanted to hear his side of the story. I asked him if he had a criminal record, and he said, yes, he committed a crime in the sixties and wasn't ashamed to admit it. I asked if he used crack cocaine and he vehemently denied it. I asked if he was in the pocket of Whirlpool, and he told me he didn't even have a Whirlpool washer and dryer, how could he be in their pocket? I had to admit he had me there.

Not ten minutes later, I was approached by two women who showed me a news article that said Glen Yarbrough was convicted in the nineties of forging a check. Although they didn't have the article, they then told me about a different occasion where he had been caught shoplifting Vitamin C and some other item. When asked if he was a drug user, one woman told me that at one time, he was so caught up in his crack cocaine use, his own mother had to evict him. "Go ask his mother!" she said, and kind of laughed. The other woman just shook her head.

This is the commissioner Reverend Pinkney was trying to get out of office.

And here we sat in the courtroom, watching an inexperienced prosecutor try to make a case out of thin air, using witnesses who just might have a reason to perjure. At times, the courtroom drama brought to mind the Salem Witchcraft trials, with crackheads and drive-by shooters filling in for the hysterical adolescents.

As the trial wore on, you had to wonder why anyone was prosecuting this man. Reading between the lines of testimony, a picture of the character of Edward Pinkney began to appear: A man who cares about the place he lives in and the people who are his neighbors, and someone who is willing to take action to make a change happen. Even witnesses on the prosecution side testified that Pinkney was trying to bring jobs into the area, and the prosecutor somehow turned that into a bad thing, saying he tricked people into signing the absentee ballot application by pretending it was a job application. But all witnesses demonstrated that they could read, and would presumably know the difference between the two forms. The prosecutor tried to cast a bad light on Pinkney's calling people together and advising them of their duty to vote, by implying it was some sort of conspiracy, but many on the side of free speech have applauded the Reverend's actions.

Pinkney, a fireball of energy, devotes a significant part of his day to ministering to others, offering hope and encouragement, and occasionally, small jobs. Last year, just before the election, he was offering five dollars to poor and homeless people to pass out flyers explaining the recall election. The prosecution twisted this to suggest Pinkney was preying on a vulnerable population, and that he paid them each five dollars to vote.

Throughout all of this, the Reverend has managed to keep his sense of humor. During a court recess, he clutched his heart and said, "This is the big one!" in imitation of Fred Sandford from the old sit-com. Although he was poking fun at the Reverend Foster, it didn't seem to be out of spite or meanness. After hanging out with him for a while, you get the feeling that this guy likes just about everybody—even the ones who are trying to shut him up. And, in the face of overwhelming obstacles, he manages to maintain a positive attitude that is positively contagious. Even during the more tense moments of his trial, he always had a smile and a hug for whomever might approach him.

I followed Reverend Pinkney around for a couple of days after the trial, interviewing some of his supporters. Everywhere we went, people would greet him in that easy way that suggests they trust him and feel comfortable around him. Yet they are careful not to take him for granted; many say that if Pinkney were not around, there would essentially be no justice for black people in Benton Harbor.

So why, you might ask, are they trying to put him away? Well, that is a long story, and most of it will have to wait for another article. My guess is that, just for a moment, the powers-that-be in St. Joseph/BentonHarbor heard the mighty voice of the people, and it scared them. But here's something to chew on: A recall election that was won by more than fifty votes was overturned on the basis of five or so tainted votes and one judge's "belief" that there was voter fraud. No facts, no hard evidence; just conjecture and an almost desperate need for Glen Yarbrough to remain on the city commission. Then we have a voter fraud trial featuring a jury with a relative of the county clerk on it, as well as three Whirlpool employees. (Pinkney's group is boycotting Whirlpool products.) Add to that the widespread rumors, and some testimony, that witnesses for the prosecution were paid off, and the whole thing starts to smell pretty bad.

Reverend Pinkney is philosophical about the court battle. "I'm willing to go to jail", he says, "if it will bring attention to what's going on in Benton Harbor." For now, the Reverend has another six months or so of freedom, before authorities take another swat at him. Meanwhile, he is in debt to the tune of $30,000 for legal fees. If you want to help with that, send a check to: BANCO, 1940 Union St, Benton Harbor, MI 49022. I'm sure the Reverend and his wife will say a prayer for you.

A few months ago, this magazine featured an article by John Mann urging voters to bring Congressman Fred Upton home. I agree. Let's give Fred the chance to really focus on the twin cities of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor, and hopefully, clean up his own backyard.

(Reprinted with permission under a Creative Commons license.)

Monday, May 01, 2006

Justice in Berrien County & Whirlpool info


Evidence of innocence is irrelevant to Berrien County, Michigan prosecutors such as James Cherry and Jerry Vigansky.

When the Bill of Rights was added to the constitution, its authors clearly intended to protect the rights of persons accused of crime. Those simply stated protections have been continuously eroded over the past fifty years. For each interpretive appellate decision that attempts to even the playing field, there are five more that steepen the grade. Our concern has turned from seeking truth to seeking convictions, and post-conviction efforts are focused on denying any further review.

Michigan prisons are full of wrongfully convicted persons from Benton Harbor, many who were coerced into admitting to crimes they did not commit by prosecutors threats to pile on more charges. Others were convicted by false testimony from criminals bribed by prosecutors who exchanged dropped charges, paid cash, or reduced sentences for false testimony against the defendants in Berrien County.

It is painful how ambitious prosecutors such as James Cherry and Gerald Vigansky invented phony made-up crimes to frame me. This is how the system works in Michigan, especially Berrien County. Gov. Granholm is guilty of presiding over, and in essence, condoning, this level of corruption. She has shown more than a few times that she supports the actions of Whirlpool, Cornerstone Alliance, and Berrien County law enforcement/courts. Racism is on steroids in Berrien County.

Thank you,
Rev. Edward Pinkney

(keep in mind that Whirlpool is in the same community as maybe the most severe poverty in the state)

Whirlpool enjoys record first quarter
Sales up 10% from '05 1st quarter

H-PBusiness Writer
BENTON TOWNSHIP - Fueled by strong demand for its products, Whirlpool Corp. this morning announced first quarter net earnings of $118 million, a 37 percent increase over the first three months of last year.

Net sales of $ 3.5 billion were the best ever for the first quarter and were up 10 percent from the year-earlier period....

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Police & prosecutor human rights abuses

When so many people believe anything they read, no matter how outlandish it is, how is it that they cannot accept something that is completely true? That prosecutor and police misconduct is a pervasive and serious problem, not only in Berrien County, but also in the rest of the country? In Berrien County, Mich., the sheriff's department continues to harass, intimidate, coerce, and bribe witnesses in my upcoming retrial. Police and prosecutor misconduct are easy to get away with in Berrien County and everywhere. Sept. 19, 2006 is the trial date for the second round of this heavyweight fight for justice. I need five hundred people everyday for the trial. Please make plans to be there.

Thank you,
Rev. Edward Pinkney

Trial Irregularities and News

1. During my recent trial in the Berrien County Courthouse, St. Joseph, Michigan,
there were several very unusual occurences:
1) a family member of the county clerk, Louise Stein, was on the jury
2) the jury foreman and two other jury members were employees of Whirlpool - this is a conflict of interests since BANCO and myself have initiated a boycott of the corporation
3) the bailiff took the jury foreman to see the prosecutor during the trial, and then took him back to the jury room.
I saw this happening while the jury was in deliberation and notified my attorney of this who told the judge. The judge then was forced into swearing in the bailiff (so that he could be questioned under oath).

2. Please take a look at The People's Tribune to see coverage on the situation in Benton Harbor, and to see what honest reporting looks like. This paper is doing a great job of reporting what's really happening to America.

3. I believe that my trial outcome was a victory for Benton Harbor, the state, and the US because it shows that we can all stand up and fight the lies and corruption before it's too late. It also proved that judge Maloney, prosecutor Cherry, and commissioner Yarbrough all lied.

4. Whirlpool-Maytag deal wins antitrust approval March 29, 2006

Rev. Pinkney to be retried

I guess prosecutor Cherry had to announce it on a weekday; April 1 isn't until Saturday....

This article is a sterling example of the type of reporting which, over many years, indoctrinates a county.

Pinkney to be retried

Benton Harbor email action

A former trial attorney has suggested a flood of emails to discourage a retrial of Rev. Pinkney. The following are two emails that have already been sent - please use them as models to be rewritten.

And, here are email addresses of the Berrien County prosecutor, the assistant prosecutor, and some of the Berrien County commissioners (the only addresses that could be found on the county website).

[sample messages--modify to make your own]


Dear Attorney Cherry:

I have been following the trial of Rev. Edward Pinkney, and write to request that your office not proceed with retrial.

As a former trial attorney, I am familiar with the process that just completed regarding Rev. Pinkney. I also understand that, without reviewing the trial transcript, I have a limited view of what took place during the proceedings. However, the jury's reported inability to make a determination beyond a reasonable doubt on each of the five counts speaks volumes.

The City of Benton Harbor has some of the most dismal economic, employment and crime statistics in the nation. The uprising during summer 2003--just months after I moved to Michigan--remains fresh in my mind. After that nightmare, the good people of Benton Harbor deserve an opportunity to heal and to raise their political voices about concerns with elected officials. I urge your office not to rub salt in these wounds with a retrial.

Thank you for your time.



The case against Rev. Pinkney surely was an embarassment to the Prosecution. It would seem that a retrial would be a waste of tax payer money.

In fact, if there were unlimited funds available for legal battle, there should be a counter suit for reinstating the "recall election" and the injustices done to the community by "officials."

I was able to attend the trial for one day and I would say that there are serious concerns about any JUSTICE happening in Berrien County.

Friday, March 31, 2006

A People's Victory declared in Benton Harbor struggle for Justice!

The city power structure in Benton Harbor, controlled by the Whirlpool Corporation, was dealt a blow in the struggle for justice today. The people made a stand for democracy and won! The trial of Rev. Pinkney was declared a mistrial. The jury was deadlocked after over 20 hours. The jury was convinced that further deliberations would be useless. It is possible that the prosecution may try the case again. Whatever they do -- we stand on this tremendous victory, our growing unity and clarity about what we're up against and the just world we can win, as we get ready for the next round of struggle.

Rev. Pinkney told supporters: "I am truly truly happy about the outcome of this trial. I was innocent from the start. I knew they were convinced they would convict me. I knew they couldn't because they didn't have the goods. I thank everyone for coming. This is not about me. It was a victory for the people. We have to teach people to stand up and fight. Fight for what's right. If I can do it, you can do it. This is a tremendous victory. Next step is that we have to take this across the country. First, make sure that Governor Granholm doesn't get back in there. We have to connect. Start from Detroit, Flint, Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, and connect all the way down to Benton Harbor. She put the judge in office. We can show we can stand up and fight.

Tat Parish, Reverend Pinkney's lawyer said: "That these 12 good people could not agree he was guilty vindicates our position in this case. It is possible that the prosecutor may try the case again. There was so much conflicting testimony from so many people who had so many conflicting motives in this case. The truth is that it is the sort of case where the dead skunk gets thrown up on the porch and it is almost impossible to figure out among the many people testifying who is telling the truth and who is being influencing by what -- it is a political nightmare and one that no one's interests will be served by further ventures in a criminal court. It is over with it. It should be over with. I hope we don't have to retry it. Rev. Pinkney's views may not be popular. His views may not be popular. But the very unpopularity of his views make it important that they be expressed."

After 20 Hours of Jury Deadlock, Judge, Prosecutor Have to Accept Pinkney Mistrial

A draw feels like a win to community activist Rev. Edward Pinkney today. And, by the end or the week, he may know whether the Berrien County Prosecutor's Office will spend more time and money trying for a rematch -- or admit defeat.

At about 1:30pm today, the jury in the prosecution of Pinkney in connection with his efforts on last year's successful but later overturned recall of Benton Harbor City Commissioner Glenn Yarborough told Judge Albert Butzbaugh again that they could not reach a verdict on any of the five charges brought against Pinkney.

The half day of deliberations followed 15 hours in two days last week. Near the end of the day on Friday, after viewing videotapes of the testimony of three shaky prosecution witnesses, jurors sent out their first message to Judge Butzbaugh saying they were at an impasse.

But Butzbaugh rejected Pinkney attorney Tat Parish's request to recognize a mistrial then and there, and called the jury to come back in today and try again to reach unanimity on one or more of the allegations of voter fraud and related accusations against Rev. Pinkney.

However, today Butzbaugh and Assistant Prosecutor Gerald Vigansky accepted that two weeks of trial and testimony, with witnesses on the stand who contradicted their previous affidavits and/or taped depositions, had failed to convince the jury that any of the accusations were true beyond a reasonable doubt.

The prosecutor's office is reportedly adopting its usual practice after a mistrial: they will talk to any of the jurors who will talk to them about "what went wrong" with their case, and decide by the end of the week or so whether or not to try to try Rev. Pinkney again.

Pinkney, feeling tired but vindicated, is already planning to get back to "business as usual" -- his regular volunteer efforts to keep a watchful eye over activities at the county courthouse on "the other side of the river" in Saint Joseph. He is also aiming to revive his efforts to bring jobs to the beleaguered community.

Another forum of BANCO, the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization, is tentatively planned for Saturday, April 29. The time and place are yet to be determined.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Statewide Meeting Supports Rev. Pinkney in Benton Harbor

Activist faces felony prosecution for exposing racism and corporate greed

By Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor
Pan-African News Wire

Read the rest of this excellent article detailing the March 11th rally and background on the trial here.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Trial update

Trial reports from 3 different people

Closing arguments for Rev. Pinkney's trial were on Wed: short, inaudible, and extremely weak argument from the prosecutor; long, strong, and riveting argument from the defense attorney.

At about 3:30 on Friday, March 24, after two days of deliberation, the jury sent a note out to the judge saying they were at an impasse on all five charges, and asking what they should do now.

The judge decided that, while 15 hours of deliberations might be a fairly long time, this was the first word the jury had sent out -- so he sent them back to try again to reach some decision(s). They will continue deliberations on Monday.

The more people who show up, the better. Rev. Pinkney believes he most likely would have been convicted by now if it weren't for all the people who have been attending his trial. However, he can't count on all the people who have shown up to come again on Monday. So, please try to attend - 8:30am, Berrien County Courthouse, exit 33 off I-94.

Rev Pinkney was a picture book witness. Prosecutor Gerald Vigansky was no match for Rev. Pinkney and his attorney, Tat Parrish. The judge behaved as if he was part of the prosecution and will now be known as Judge "One Sided" Butzbaugh.

As Rev. Pinkney left the courthouse today he saw sheriff Bailey and told him, "You had better not send out your officers to harass the jury members."

Rev. Pinkney testified that: 1) he was not present when anyone voted their absentee ballot in last February's election to recall corrupt city commissioner Glen Yarbrough 2) he did nothing to influence anyone while they were voting 3) he never had possession of anyone's ballot 4) he had several conversations with former city clerk Jean Nesbitt around the time of the election and afterwards because of his concern for her - he told her he believed they would overturn the election and fire her, which is exactly what happened, and said he would pray for her 5) he told Ms. Nesbitt that it was not about her, but about himself - the Berrien County government "want me bad" - he wanted to warn her to make her strong since she didn't have a clue about what was going to happen to her.

Ms. Nesbitt was fired after a false investigation and a corrupt civil trial.

from earlier in the week:

The Judge is openly in favor of the prosecution. They are moving in for the kill. We are confident that the truth will win out and that the Jury will vote for acquittal. This case is about more than one person. It is about the future of a whole community -- versus the profits of the rich, and those corrupt politicians, prosecutors, judges who have allied with them for their own personal gain and greed.

The prosecution doesn't have a leg to stand on so they have resorted to character assassination - the Judge is overruling all objections to this travesty. They are painting a picture of Rev. Pinkney as taking advantage of those who are "down and out" when in reality he has organized his life around the defense of the poor. Rev. Pinkney and other leaders have been struggling for the people to exercise their voting rights against a corrupt, corporate-run power structure that is selling off their town. The real criminals - those with the power -- are the conspirators. They intend to get Reverend Pinkney first. But they are also going after anyone who dares to stand up.

This is one battle in a long war for justice. And, it is part of a larger battle that is unfolding across the country as the jobs leave and as defenseless communities undergo vicious attacks by corporate developers and corrupt local, state and national officials who care only about their pocketbook. What they don't realize is that they cannot stop the struggle for justice.

3/18 Trial update

Rev. Pinkney takes the stand on Tues. and Wed. of the coming week (3/21, 3/22). The trial will begin this week on Tues. and last until Wed. or Thurs.

Last week was the first week of the trial. The judge showed very obvious and almost extreme partiality towards the prosecution. "It's as if he's one of the prosecutors", said Rev. Pinkney. Another striking thing was how the prosecution's witnesses lacked credibility.

One Benton Harbor woman commented at the end of one of the days, "In Benton Harbor people are now afraid that if they vote, police will come to their house."

Here are two different peoples' reports:

Benton Harbor community leader Reverend Edward Pinkney went on trial this past Wednesday on charges of electoral fraud. If convicted he could face 20 years in prison.

Last Saturday there was a rally in Benton Harbor organized by BANCO (Black Autonomy Network Community Organization), the community group led by Rev. Pinkney. I would estimate that between 100 and 150 people attended. A whole busload of folks came down from Detroit, as well as smaller contingents from all over Michigan and some folks from Chicago. Among the speakers were Rev. Pinkney himself, General Baker, Marian Kramer, Maureen Taylor, and the head of a network of Black nationalist radio stations headquartered in Washington, DC (I don't recall his name off the top of my head). The crowd was roughly 75% Black, 20% white and 5% Latino. The rally was followed by a spirited march around the Benton Harbor police station. Though only a small handful of Benton Harborites attended the rally itself we got a lot of horn honks and sympathetic folks observing the march from their front yard.

6 witnesses for the defense backed out near the last minute, apparently due to police harrassment. It seems like it's a fairly regular practice for police to pay visits to local supporters of Reverend Pinkney warning them that it's a bad idea to associate with him. In any event, the defense still has 17 witnesses lined up.

I attended the first day of the trial on Wednesday. There are 8 white men, 4 white women and 2 Black women on the jury, which Rev. Pinkney's wife Dorothy told me was a victory; apparently they were expecting an all white jury. Of the 4 witnesses testifying on Wednesday for the prosecution, one did not say anything particularly damning from what I could tell, 2 had drug problems and the other, a woman from Kalamazoo, registered to vote in the Benton Harbor recall election under the false pretense that she'd be moving there within 30 days of the election. It seems that most of the prosecution's witnesses have something to lose by not going along with the frameup against Pinkney.

I called Rev. Pinkney last night for an update on the day's proceedings. The prosecution was still calling witnesses but it sounded like things had gone very well for the defense. One of the prosecution's witnesses apparently flip-flopped on the stand, coming out and saying that the police had forced him to present false testimony and threatened him with trouble if he didn't. Needless to say, this really shook the prosecution.

Anyway, that's where things stand now. The trial will probably run at least until next Wednesday or Thursday. If anyone from Detroit, Ypsi/A2, Chicago, or anywhere else can take a day to go to the Berrien County courthouse in St. Joseph, MI to show your support, that would be very welcome.

The trial completed its third day and is expected to go to jury on Tuesday. The government witnesses have been discredited. Although the state needs very little to convict anyone, the defense is thinking positive that the truth will win out. The witnesses have some history with drugs, arrests, the police or prison and were obviously threatened into testifying; a sad glimpse of how the state uses the poor to fight the poor to maintain the wealth and power of the corporations/privileged few. The Judge is preventing the defense from bringing the drug background to the jury. At one point the lawyer was threatened with criminal charges for bringing out the drug history of a witness.

The City Clerk testified. The prosecution tried to make it seem that there was some kind of conspiracy between PInkney and the former clerk around absentee ballots but this didn't hold water. It is also worth noting that the state investigated the clerk following the recall, but found no grounds to charge her with anything. Yet she was fired from her job after the recall. She is suing the city in an upcoming trial to be held in Grand Rapids.

Grassroots leaders from Benton Harbor, and other cities, are attending the trial. Everyone knows what's at stake. Whirlpool, Cornerstone, the local power structure -- the powers that be -- need a free hand to sell off the city and are stopping at nothing to guarantee their profits. The Defense Committee is asking people to write the Governor of Michigan to get the charges dropped. The governor already stated she can do nothing about local trials, but it's still good to have people act. The defense committee is asking for people to attend the trial on Tuesday.