Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Three Voices from Benton Harbor

Jail or Concentration Camp?

In a waiting room for prisoner's families and friends at the Berrien County Jail in St. Joseph, Michigan, visitors discuss the condition of the jail - the MRSA virus, and the filth. Most disgusting, families say little black worms come out of the prisoner's shower-head, the shower drain and around the toilet. They say it's like sewage that was never cleansed. Everything inside the overcrowded jail is dirty, with poor air ventilation and inmates sleeping on the gym floor, meaning there is no daily exercise for the prisoners. GED degrees and even doctor visits are too costly for the poor who make up the jail population.

The concentration camp conditions in American jails await not only the victims of poverty, but also anyone who dares to speak out against injustice. We are slipping rapidly into a Nazi-type America. The stakes are high. Capitalism, a system based on the exploitation of human labor, no longer has any use for workers now that computers and robots are taking the jobs. Are jails and concentration camps our future? No. Our hope is in building a massive movement for a just society, but it has to be fought for.

- The People's Tribune Editors


Jail Visitor Speaks Out

By Patricia Johnson

"On our first visit, my son and I got to the Berrien County jail at 12:30 p.m. There was a long line of people waiting in the cold. One-half hour later the door opened and the people rushed in to get warm. It took almost an hour to sign in at one window. There were limited seats in the waiting area and many people stood for as long as two hours waiting to visit. We were told to go to the first floor and we had to wait about 20 more minutes for the previous group to leave. The telephones were filthy and there were interruptions on the phone lines. This is an unforgettable experience."


It's Not the Messenger who is a Liar

By Dorothy Pinkney

In America, we were given the right to free speech. That right is protected by law and the enforcers of the law. If someone should take away those rights, the government is to provide protection.
Not so with my husband, Rev. Edward Pinkney. His freedom of speech was violated on December 14, 2007 by his probation officer, James B. Pjesk and by Berrien Country government, which is run by the dominant corporation in the area, Whirlpool.

Remember, my husband is a Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a strong leader and well-known activist in Berrien County since 2000. His message was against injustice, corporate power, racism, and a call to Repentance. Berrien County Government says his message was a threat and he therefore remains in the Berrien County Jail.

I ask, why did Berrien County allow the KKK the right to organize a rally in 1998? Why were they given the right to free speech? Why were they protected by law enforcement? And yet Berrien County can tell my husband that he has no rights to free speech or to organize citizens for a successful recall election against former commissioner Glen Yarbrough. One step further - they are saying that the citizens have no rights therefore we're discarding your votes. The message is that they have the right to take your rights, lock you up in inhumane jail conditions, serve cold food, put you on lock-down, take away visitation rights, block your phone calls, charge you $150 for a GED, $150 for medical fees, or $25 for a doctor fee. Judge Butzbaugh took a prophetic Biblical warning given in a newspaper article as a threat, therefore establishing his own law, sentencing my husband to a year. When a prophetic warning is given by God and it's rejected, when given by His messenger - it's not the messenger who is a liar. You're saying God is a liar. What Judge, government officials or anyone else can come against God's truth - the Bible? The Judge erred when he stated the article was intimidating and threatening, but the subjected of a listener can't create a threat where none exists.

We cannot allow the court system to take away our rights. We must stand together on Biblical Truth. We stand on the truth of the polygraph test proving my husband's innocence of all charges and that he's in jai for a crime he never committed.

The purpose of the speech-press clauses is to protect parties in the free publication of matters of public concern and to secure their rights to a free discussion of public concern, public events, public measure and to enable every citizen to bring the government to the bar of public opinion by any just criticism upon their conduct in the exercise of the authority, which the people have conferred upon them.


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