Friday, September 21, 2007

Blinded By The White: OJ Simpson vs. The Jena Six

by Sally Kohn

Why is it that mainstream white media and white folks in general are so obsessed (once again) with OJ’s guilt but paying little or no attention to the innocence of the Jena Six?

Of course, we all know about OJ’s recent arrest. It’s been all over the news. But if you don’t know about the Jena Six, you’re not alone. On, for instance, there are four times as many recent news stories about OJ as there are about the Jena Six.

As I’m writing this, the town of Jena, Louisiana — population 3,000 — is preparing for a civil rights rally Thursday with an expected 50,000 demonstrators from across the country. But OJ Simpson is on the front page of USA Today site.

In the small town of Jena last fall, two black high school students sat in a schoolyard under a tree. The tree was known as the “white tree” because only white kids are allowed to sit under it. The day after the two black students defied this unspoken rule, nooses were hung from the tree. The school principle dismissed it as a “prank”. Black students protested by sitting under the tree, in growing numbers. The District Attorney came to the school and threatened them, saying, “I can take away your lives with the stroke of a pen.”

There was a series of violent incidents were white students attacked black students. The government and school administrators ignored those. But when a white student was beaten up by six black students in a schoolyard fight — after provoking the black students with racist taunts — the District Attorney charged the black students with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder. They were charged in adult court. Meanwhile, the white student they beat up suffered only minor cuts and bruises.

One of the black students, Mychal Bell — age 16 — has been in prison since December. Last month, an all-white jury decided that Bell was guilty — not guilty of beating up a student who racially taunted him, but guilty of attempted murder.

It reminds me of the African American five-year-old in Florida earlier this year who was acting up in kindergarten so the teacher called the police and the little girl was handcuffed and arrested and taken to jail. Or countless other examples. How is it that white folks are so predisposed to presume that black folks are sinister and guilty and yet equally as quick to deny the pervasiveness of racism in every crevice of our society and rail against affirmative action and other remedies to structural injustice?

At the time of OJ Simpson’s trial for allegedly murdering his ex-wife and her friend, polls showed that most white people thought Simpson was guilty while black people thought he was innocent. Another poll conducted 10 years after the Simpson verdict found the same thing.

What gives? Why in case after case do blacks and whites see things so, well, black and white? Racial profiling is a documented phenomenon; studies show that African Americans are far more likely to be arrested and convicted of crimes than whites who commit the same offenses. People of color recognize that the system is biased. Why can’t whites? And why can’t whites recognize their own role in perpetuating that bias — not only directly but also indirectly by denying that that such racism even exists?

Thursday, Mychal Bell will be sentenced. He faces up to 22 years in prison for a schoolyard scrape that he didn’t even start. While many whites in Jena are saying the case has been “overblown” (USA Today’s wording), over 11,000 busloads of demonstrators are on their way to Jena in protest. To show their solidarity with Jena’s black community, all of the demonstrators will be wearing black.

Rather than us white folks reading the news about OJ and assuming, “There he goes again…” we should be reading the news out of Jena and thinking, “There it goes again!” — the “it” being racism, injustice, systematic oppression, an entrenched double standard based on race. We must start to recognize that, when it comes to crime, the problematic pattern in our society is NOT the criminal behavior of communities of color. That’s a myth. It’s wrong. White people commit far more crimes than blacks. We must recognize that, when it comes to crime, the problematic pattern in our society is us white folks over and over again presuming the criminality of people of color while denying that we do so, thus allowing injustice to accumulate in often subtle but just as often egregious ways. When we don’t acknowledge our own racism and the racism of those around us, we lay the groundwork for an all-white jury to convict Mychal Bell and call it justice. As the saying goes, if we’re not part of the solution, we’re part of the problem.

On Thursday, September 20th, white folks around the United States should rise up and denounce the Jena Six verdicts and the atrocious handling of this case in side-by-side solidarity with the African American community. We should make it clear that we won’t stand for racism in our schools, our criminal justice system, our hearts or our minds. Not in Jena. Not anywhere.

On Thursday, September 20th, we should see a sea of white folks nationwide wearing black to show their support for the demonstrations in Jena. This means you! Racism is perpetuated by white folks who like the system the way it is, with them at the top and people of color at the bottom. But just as much, racism is perpetuated by white folks who aspire to a world of equality and justice but nonetheless turn a blind eye when racism rears itself again and again and again. Don’t be part of the problem. Be part of the solution. Wear black, sign the Color of Change petition to free the Jena 6, donate to their defense fund, tell your friends and neighbors about this injustice, and do something to resist racism and build an America where we’re truly all in it together.

Sally Kohn is director of the New York-based Movement Vision Project, working with grassroots organizations across the United States to advance our shared values of family, community and humanity. She has interviewed progressive leaders across the country on their vision for the future.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Biggest Heist in Michigan History?

According to Whirlpool, the Harbor Shores project will combine economic development with
work force and business development.

What Whirlpool doesn't say is that their focus is on building an exclusive environment which will serve the Wealthy. The Wealthy need to destroy land, riverways, animal and bird species, and a city in order to be isolated with like kind in a 500 million dollar playground and designer golf course. This is the Harbor Shores project.

To date, this project has been possible because of the leadership of Jeff Fettig, the Whirlpool Corporation, and it's real estate arms. In Dec. 2004, Whirlpool requested another industrial facilities tax exemption from the city of Benton Harbor. A city 96% black, with 70% unemployment, 90% of the people living below the poverty level, and over million dollars in the red. The purpose of the request was to allow Whirlpool Corporation another tax abatement of 50% on all property tax. This would reduce all property tax by another 50% for the next twelve years.

Also, not to confuse the reader, but Benton Harbor residents are paying for the INFRASTUCTURE of Harbor Shores through their property taxes! A variety of tactics are being used in the destruction and take-over of Benton Harbor...

Readers should be seated for this next bit of information: In twenty years, after Benton Harbor residents have paid for the Harbor Shores infrastructure, Harbor Shores will be converted into the boundaries of St. Joseph, Michigan. This kind of thing cannot be made up...

Of course, the Benton Harbor City Commission had to agree to all of these things, and it's common knowledge in Berrien County that bribery of various kinds were used to pressure this body to "go along."

The Harbor Shores construction phase will create an estimated 4000 jobs, but history tells us that there will be no jobs for Benton Harbor residents. Not one has been hired yet, and construction is ongoing.

Please come to the Berrien County Courthouse this Friday, September 21, 1pm for a hearing. Preceding the hearing is a 12 noon march beginning at the Michigan Works Building, corner of Main & Riverview, Benton Harbor. Hope you can make both. Rev. Pinkney needs our support.

LEGAL FEE DONATIONS-BANCO, 1940 Union St., Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Boycott Whirlpool, and it's subsidiaries: Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Amana, Gladiator, GarageWorks, Inglis, Estate, Roper, Magic Chef, Acros, Supermatic. ABROAD - Bauknecht,
Brastemp, Consul, Eslabon de Lujo
NON-Whirlpool brands:
Frigidaire, General Electric, LG, Samsung, Viking, Subzero, Dacor, some Kenmore, Electrolux, etc.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Whirlpool Crooks, Bribery, and Water Contamination

Remarks on a Herald-Palladium story from August:


"Solid As A Rock" is the Correct Title for City Manager Pete Mitchell

BH residents say it is only fitting that a large engraved rock should bear the name of city manager Dwight Pete Mitchell in the downtown park. Residents know that Mitchell allows Whirlpool Corp. to take over the city, assists in the on-going removal of Blacks, and promotes the gated community for Whites only - plus the Jack Nicklaus golf course.
Rev. Martin Luther King is turning over in his grave in shame.

"This park speaks volumes about Pete Mitchell," said Jeff Noel, Whirlpool Corp. vice-president for Communication and Public Affairs. Noel, who is engineering the take-over of the city of Benton Harbor, has worked closely with Pete Mitchell, setting up meetings in the dark behind closed doors. He spoke Friday at a ceremony dedicating the park on Main St. to Pete Mitchell who will retire next March (which is the best news for the residents of Benton Harbor - getting this man out of city business is really a blessing.) Pete Mitchell consistently worked against the residents of Benton Harbor by failing to stand up and protect them.

Pete Mitchell has been a blessing to Whirlpool Corp. (Cornerstone Alliance and Harbor Shores), and a disgrace to the residents of Benton Harbor. A man with no integrity who paid Cleophus Kilgore to sabotage the recall election for Glen Yarbrough.

Whirlpool Corp. and Pete Mitchell are sadists who get pleasure in seeing Blacks suffer.

Whirlpool Bribery

Mitchell actually told Noel that Harbor Shores will continue to fund the Benton Harbor Summer Youth Work program for five years because, "HS wants to provide the money for the Benton Harbor vote." Bribery is right out in the open here in Berrien County. Whirlpool has trained the county well.

Whirlpool Contaminates BH Water

BH residents have been instructed not to drink city water or even bathe from Friday to Tuesday (9/7-9/11).
Water was contaminated when pipes were cut into to provide enough water for the new and illegal Jack Nicklaus golf course. Residents have been getting sick as a result of the contamination, and water is sold out at grocery stores, Meijers, and WalMart. Chances are good that many residents will not believe the water is safe after Tuesday...

Land is still being destroyed and trees chopped down to build the golf course in spite of the fact that federal permits have not yet been issued.

1940 Union St.
Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Boycott Whirlpool,
and it's subsidiaries.
Whirlpool = Cornerstone Alliance = Harbor Shores

Friday, September 07, 2007

Some residents criticize Harbor Shores plan at public hearing

H-P Correspondent
BENTON HARBOR — An irrigation system to draw 450,000 gallons nightly from the Paw Paw River for the pro­posed Harbor Shores golf course drew firm opposition in a public hearing Wednesday night.
“I can’t help but think it would have an impact on the fish and wildlife,” said Benton Harbor resident Nicole Moon. “I’ve seen Ox Creek almost bone dry this summer. Everyone I know that comes to this area doesn’t come for golf. They come for the water and the beauty of the lake shore.”
In addition, many of the 20 in attendance spoke against the proposed location of three holes in Jean Klock Park, though the hearing did not involve the park. There were additional comments about the course’s environmen­tal impact.
“I have serious concerns about the impact of fertilizers on the fish, the watershed and birds,” said Bette Pierman of Benton Township. “If the DEQ is for en­vironmental quality, then these permits don’t show me that you’re working for the environ­ment and the people who live here.”
The hearing at the Michigan Works! office was set to let peo­ple review the irrigation and well proposal and comment on the project. Written comment will also be taken for the next 10 days.
The Harbor Shores Commu­nity Redevelopment Corp. is seeking a permit from the Mich­igan Department of Environ­mental Quality to install an in­take structure in the Paw Paw River and a pumphouse. The
unit would be along Klock Road, about a quarter-mile east of Michigan 63.
The intake would be a 40­foot-long pipe, 20 feet into the river. A coffer dam would be installed to allow the work to be done. The dam would re­main in place to protect the pipe from floating debris, said the DEQ’s Ben Zimont.
The pipe will be 28 inches in diameter. Eight feet will be per­forated to slow down water ve­locity to keep out newly hatched fish, Zimont said.
Buoys would be tied to the intake to mark its location for boaters and to allow the pipe to fluctuate with river elevations. The well would be installed about 20 feet upland.
The proposal calls for a nightly irrigation cycle of seven to eight hours.
Michael Kuhn, an irrigation consultant from Auburn Hills, told the audience that the South­western Michigan area requires about 7.08 inches of supple­mental irrigation from April through September. Water us­age would total about 25 mil­lion gallons annually and 29 million gallons during drought years. Kuhn, working for Har­bor Shores Redevelopment, said the draw down on the river would be less than 1 or 2 inch­es.
Kuhn said a 200-foot deep test well was drilled into the golf course site last spring in hopes of using the groundwa­ter. Kuhn said the groundwater contained “tremendous levels of salt” and could not be used to irrigate greens.
Under the Great Lakes Pres­ervation Act of 2006, Harbor Shores would be required to register with the DEQ and re­port its use annually because the project would pump more than 100,000 gallons daily over 30 days.
Kuhn said the irrigation sys­tem would be set to not spray on the dune or wetland area, and no chemicals will be inject­ed into the irrigation system.
The city of Benton Harbor municipal water supply could also be another option, Kuhn said. But Bob McFeeter with Harbor Shores said city water would be too costly for the project.
Written comments can be sent to the file number 07-11-0062-P on the correspon­dence.

Monday, September 03, 2007

August 24 Hearing report

On August 24 Rev. Edward Pinkney returned to the Berrien County courthouse to challenge a guilty verdict by an all-white jury (not of his peers).

During the March 21 trial the white jury relied on the testimony of Brenda Fox, a drug addict and prostitute, to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This revealed their willingness to violate the sanctity of their oath and show they were motivated by something other than the pursuit of truth and justice.

After the trial Fox boasted around town that she was bribed to testify against Pinkney, and told Benton Harbor resident Douglas Bragg that he was the only witness not receiving pay for his testimony.

Further, the entire jury was contaminated by the action of juror number five who, unbelievably, accused Pinkney's Harvard educated attorney of making a drug deal with a witness in the courthouse parking lot. At last week's hearing Pinkney's attorneys, Elliott Hall and Hugh Davis, both took the stand and hammered prosecutor Gerry Vigansky and judge Alfred Butzbaugh who worked as a team. (It’s the norm in this courthouse.) Rev. Pinkney was called to the stand and said that the drug deal charge was a false accusation. He now feels anger and pain and wonders how he will explain all of this to his grandchildren.

There were almost twenty constitutional violations by the Berrien County
courthouse during Rev. Pinkney's trial. One important violation, the right to a public trial, was taken away by judge Alfred Butzbaugh when he decided to lock out the public. Those turned away from the courtroom had to view the selection of the jury on a third floor, 18" inch computer monitor which was turned off or nonfunctional over 50% of the time. When it was working, the faces of the jury were not visible. Dorothy Pinkney, Belinda Brown, and Rev. Mary Gault all testified to these facts.

Prosecutor Gerry Vigansky placed false affidavits from two courthouse employees in his answer to the motion for a new trial. Pinkney's attorneys told Vigansky to put the employees on the stand under oath whereupon Vigansky withdrew his affidavits.

Prosecutorial misconduct by Gerry Vigansky include: threatening, coercing
witnesses, concealing and falsifying evidence, and twisting the truth.

The judge will delay his decisions regarding all motions and submit them in writing
in the near (?) future.

* * * *

If we the people want to defeat our common enemy, we must
become organized and more effective. The criminals at the
core of the Berrien County courthouse have built their criminal
empire on “Strategic Goals, Operational Goals and Operational Plans” that
date back as far as late 1920's when Judge Hammond's father was judge.
These three unconstitutional goals can be read on the walls inside the courthouse.

It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.
And, when government and media are partners.

Jury Of Peers Not Permitted In Berrien County

Rev. Pinkney has challenged the disproportionate number of whites
on Berrien County juries. After several years of court-watching and
observing several hundred jury panels containing one or zero blacks out of 30
people, Pinkney decided to speak out. Now it is your time to take a

The large majority of Berrien county white juries are
sending black people to prison -- guilty or not guilty.

* * * *

Reserve Friday September 21, 1pm for a second hearing.


1940 Union St.
Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Boycott Whirlpool,
and it's subsidiaries:

Gladiator GarageWorks
Magic Chef
Eslabon de Lujo

NON-Whirlpool brands:
Frigidaire, General Electric, LG, Samsung, Viking, Subzero, Dacor, some Kenmore, Electrolux, etc.