Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Join Ed Asner, Rep. Cynthia McKinney, and Howard Zinn: Sign to Support Benton Harbor Leader!

(Released 2/11/06. Please copy and distribute this statement widely.)

We Support Rev. Edward Pinkney and Call For Justice in Benton Harbor

A courageous community leader in Benton Harbor, Michigan, Rev. Edward Pinkney, is coming to trial on March 15th on trumped-up charges of voting fraud. We call for these charges to be dropped, and we pledge our support to Rev. Pinkney and the community movement he has been leading for many years.

Benton Harbor burst into the national news in June of 2003 when hundreds of unemployed African American young people rose up in anger after a 28 year old resident, Terrance Shurn, died as a result of police action. This was only the latest of a plague of incidents of racial violence and police brutality over many years.

In 2004-2005 Rev. Pinkney and his organization, BANCO, exercised their democratic rights by working in a successful recall campaign against a person who did not represent the community's interests, a corrupt city commissioner backed by the Whirlpool Corporation, the largest employer in the area. Then, in an attempt to circumvent the will of the people, the vote was overturned by a local judge. In a further outrage, Rev. Pinkney was arrested on vote fraud charges. He faces a possible sentence of 20 years.

Whirlpool is actively working to build a golf course and expensive homes on Lake Michigan and turn Benton Harbor into an exclusive vacation area. This plan will displace senior citizens and others.

Small amounts of money, $5, given to campaign workers for pro-recall work were alleged to be payoffs for a pro-recall vote. A government witness signed an affidavit that the recalled commissioner had paid him $10 to say that Rev. Pinkney had paid him $5. Another government witness was threatened with a prison sentence if she did not testify that Rev. Pinkney had paid people to vote; she had earlier signed an affidavit that she was paid to pass out flyers and work the polls, nothing more. Two key witnesses for the defense were recently arrested and imprisoned.

Benton Harbor is a small town, 92% African American, where 1/3 of its households have annual income below $8,000 and unemployment is at 65%. Rev. Pinkney and the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization that he heads have been working to bring jobs to the city. They deserve not repression but support.

We must stand with our leaders against those who trample on our rights in order to defend economic and racial injustice.

We pledge to do so in this immediate and urgent case and call for a dropping of all the charges!

Endorsed by (list in formation):

100 Strong Women of Benton Harbor
Dalani Aamon, Founder of The Harambee Radio Network
Matthew R. Abel
WilliamX Akbar, Highland Park Michigan Movement
Danny Alexander, Rock & Rap Confidential
Marian Amoroso-Bnedetto, IAMAW President Local Lodge 2559
Ann Arbor Coalition Against the War (AACAW), Mi.
Zarinah H. Awad, Director, The Cultural Cup Food Bank Inc.
Edward Asner, actor
Carol Aspey, retired Nurse
Jim Aspey, retired
Zarinah H. Awad
BGB Developments, LLC
Carolyn Baker, Coach of girls basketball
General Baker, UAW Local 600, retired worker
Valeria Baker, Detroit
Mary Lee Barker
Steven R. Bean
Allen Bernard, Injured Worker of America
James F. Bish, V. chair, UAW Local 6000 Region 1A Retiree Chapter & treasurer, Metro Detroit Labor Party
Black Men in Unions Org.
The Black Women's Defense League
Michael Brand, Phd, Prof of Mathematics, BCCC (ret.)
Adrienne Maree Brown, League of Young Voters.
Carl Brown
Nancy M. Broyles
Dennis Brutus, poet and activist
Vinie Burrows, actor
Call'em-Out!!! Organization
Tim Carpenter, Executive Director, Progressive Democrats of America (PDA)
Julia M. Casey
Barbara Chase, Massachusetts
Empress Chi, founder, Million Women March, Philadelphia
Chicago Coalition for Human Rights
Richard Clement, Minority Affairs and Outreach, Lansing, Mi.
Coalition Against Police Brutality, Detroit, Mi.
David Cobb, 2004 Green Party Presidential nominee
Betty Cohen
Clifford D. Conner, author
Constitutional Litigation Associates
Hugh M. Davis Jr.
Defend Palestine, Ann Arbor, Mi.
Mark Dilley
Mark Donham, community activist, Il.
Cole Dorsey, delegate, Industrial Workers of the World, Grand Rapids Branch
Rami Elamine, Editor, Left Turn magazine
Elders of 4 Colors 4 Directions
Kathryn Enders
Matt Erard, Chairperson, Socialist Party of Michigan
Anneliese Failla
Janet Fay, substitute teacher, special needs, Kalamazoo, Mi.
Terry L. Fesler, Children's Rights Advocacy, Three Rivers, Michigan
David Finkel, managing editor, Against the Current magazine
Anna Fisher, East Lansing, Mi.
Terry Fister, legal assistant, Cassopolis, Mi.
Samuel R. Friedman, AIDS researcher, poet, author
Rev. Mary Gault, Church of the Brethren, Sunfield, Mi.
Richard L. Giovanoni, Coordinator, Camden County Green Party, NJ.
Ted Glick, Coordinator, Independent Progressive Politics Network
Maurice Golliday, community activist
Jessica Goodkind
Green Party of Michigan
David L. Griscom, Ph.D. physicist
Marijo Grogan
Chris Gruener, Newton, Massachusetts
Jean and Joe Gump, Bloomingdale, Mi.
Daymon J. Hartley, retired Detroit Free Press photographer
Eugene Hayhoe, writer, teacher, musician
Davetta Haywood, Realtor, Gary, IN
Cynthia Heenan
Ted Hentchel
Connie Hogarth
Libby Hunter, Instant Runoff Voting initiative
Margaret Hunter
Industrial Workers of the World, Grand Rapids Branch
Benjamin Samuel Israel, Los Angeles, CA 90034
Patricia Jackson, chairperson, Criminal Justice Committee, Chicago
Jewish Witnesses for Peace & friends(a Palestine solidarity group), Ann Arbor, Mi.
Jan Johnson, Green Party, Massachusetts
Lee Ann Johnson
Vallory Johnson, Co-President, Highland Park Human Rights Coalition
Nancy Marie Jones-Broadway, Ann Arbor
Kalamazoo Non-violent Opponents to War (KNOW)
Arthur Kamell
Walda Katz-Fishman, scholar activist
Mike and Carmen Kelly, Harper Woods, Mi.
J. Merryman Kemp
Mimi Kennedy, National Advisory Chair, Progressive Democrats of America (PDA)
Margaret Kingsbury, RN, Nursing Professor, Lansing Community College
Jackie Kramer, UAW Chrysler worker, Detroit
Marian Kramer, Chair, National Welfare Rights Organization
The Labor Party, Detroit Chapter
Beth K. Lamont, Humanist Chaplain
Alice Leuchtag
H. Richard Leuchtag, PhD
Peter Linebaugh
Stephanie Angeline Loveless, founder, Green House/Jam Rag Magazine
Eric Mann, Director, Labor/Community Strategy Center, Los Angeles, Ca.
Ben Manski, Fellow, Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution
Jean Maryborn, a little old lady, feisty Quaker, in winter sneakers in
Sandpoint Idaho, a surprisingly progressive community in Northern Idaho
Robert H. Mast
Bill McAfee
Claire McClinton, UAW Local 659 Executive Board
Cynthia McKinney, U.S. Congresswoman, 4th District Georgia
Debra McNutt
Ted McTaggart, Solidarity, Detroit, MI
MECAWI (Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice)
Crespin and Joy Mendoza/Marx-Mendoza
David Meyers
A.T. Miller, Ph.D.
Jacquelyn Miller, activist
The Million Woman March Human Rights Commission
Rev. John Moore, chairperson, Stop the War, Fresno, Ca.
Dorinda Guadalupe Moreno, Hitec Aztec Communications
Dr. Austin Murphy
Kathleen Nathan
National Lawyers Guild
National Laywers Guild, Detroit Chapter
New Deacon of Defense
Sylvia Orduno, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization
People's Tribune
Sharron Perez, Member of the Progressive Caucus of Genesee County
Mart Perkins, Oregon
Carl E. Person, Antitrust & Civil Rights Attorney, Candidate for NY Attorney General
Robert Ponte
Larry J.Pope Sr.- Sr. Electronics Technician
Margaret Prescod, Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike and host/producer of “Sojourner Truth” on KPFK Pacifica Radio in Southern California, 90.7FM, 98.7FM Santa Barbara
Mike Price
The Progressive Caucus of the Genesee County Democrats
Ann Rall, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization
Mark Reader, Professor Emeritus, Arizona State University
Sandy Reid, Speakers for a New America
Christopher Rodriguez
Jamala Rogers, Director, Black Radical Congress
Lew Rosenbaum, director, Chicago Labor & Arts Festival
David Rovics, musician
Rev. Edwin Rowe, Central United Methodist Church, Detroit
San Pedro Neighbors for Peace & Justice, Ca.
Jerome Scott, Director, Project South
Stephen M. Senesi
Michelle Shocked, Folk/Pop Music Artist
Kadesha Simpson, Teacher, Ann Arbor, Mi.
Gloria and John Slaughter, Atlanta, Georgia
Thomas Small, Kalamazoo, Mi.
Don Smith
Socialist Party of Michigan
David Sole, President UAW Local 2334, Detroit
Norman Solomon, National Media Analyst
Harold Spence, Senior Citizens
Kymie Spring, activist, Grand Rapids
Dorothy Stevens, Mass Welfare Rights Union
Roberta Stewart
Leli Sudler, Massachusetts
Maureen Taylor, Chair, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization
Third Baptist Church, Chicago
Ruth Todasco, Global Women’s Strike/Los Angeles
Anwen Tormey, Chicory Center/Chicago
Chris Venn, San Pedro Neighbors for Peace & Justice, Ca.
Lise Vogel, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, Rider University (ret.)
Barbara M. Walls
Kent Walton
Keni Washington, K.M. Washington Sustainable Communities, NGO
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Director, The Shalom Center
JoAnn Watson, Detroit City Councilwoman
Len Weinglass, attorney
Judy Whitehouse, citizen, USA
Dorothy Williams, founder, Justice for All, Atlanta
Jillian R. Williams
Ruth Williams, Public Housing and Michigan WRO
Women for Peace, Chicago
Rev. Dr. Bruce Wright of the Refuge, St. Petersburg, Fl.
Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Director, Hip Hop Caucus
Bob Zellner
Howard Zinn, author

To sign this statement send your individual name or organizational name to Marian Kramer at fightforrevpinkney@sbcglobal.net

Donations are urgently needed for the legal defense. You can do so online by going to http://bhbanco.blogspot.com and clicking on "Make a Donation." Or you can send a check made payable to BANCO and send it to 1940 Union St., Benton Harbor, Mi. 49022. Contributions are tax-deductible. BANCO is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

If there are other ways that you can be supportive, contact Rev. Pinkney at any time at 269-925-0001 or banco9342@sbcglobal.net.