Monday, July 28, 2008

Rev. Edward Pinkney: ‘Too much influence’ for one man!

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by Dr. Lenore Jean Daniels
Wednesday, 02 July 2008,

Rev. Edward Pinkney, Judge Dennis Wiley said to the courtroom, has "too much influence."

Rev. Edward Pinkney’s “crime” is leading a successful effort to unseat a city powerbroker and resisting corporate development of his community of Benton Harbor, Mich. – 90 percent poor, 70 percent unemployed, 94 percent Black – located on prime Lake Michigan waterfront property coveted by developers, a town of 11,000 “owned” by the giant Whirlpool Corp. Unless we act, this great freedom fighter will remain locked up for many years to come.
We hear echoes of a past time. It’s so relevant to know our past. A man had been beaten by the New York police. Malcolm X appeared at the police station. He wasn’t alone. Surrounded by members of the Fruit of Islam (FOI) and a crowd from the Harlem community, Malcolm asks to see the young man. Leaving the scene is not an option. Malcolm is allowed to see the injured man and, afterward, demands that this man receive medical treatment. The police agree.

But the police are concerned about the FOI and the community people outside. An officer asks the crowd to disburse. The FOI and the crowd stayed still. Malcolm tells the officer that this crowd will not move for him. Then Malcolm waves his hand, and the FOI and the community folks disburse.

The office tells another: That’s too much power for one man. “One man” didn’t mean “one man”!

The one man wasn’t under the influence of city authorities in Harlem. The one man represented the many invisible and made them visible.

So it is with Rev. Edward Pinkney, organizer and activist – a man feared because he has “too much influence.”

You may recall that Rev. Pinkney organized people to protest the privatization of Benton Harbor, a depressed area, where Blacks have suffered layoffs from the auto industry and by Whirlpool Corp. For Whirlpool executives, politicians, judges and financial brokers, tackling unemployment and poverty in the predominately Black Benton Harbor meant removing the dispensable people! Did I mention that Benton Harbor has nice beachfront property?

The billion dollar Harbor Shores project includes a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, a multimillion dollar resort, condominiums and control of the water treatment plant.

“The project does not include Blacks,” Dorothy Pinkney, wife of Rev. Pinkney, told the San Francisco Bay View (May 21, 2008).

Thursday, June 26, 2008, Rev. Pinkney was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison for “‘threatening’ the judiciary, according to Pat Foster’s report ( Rev. Pinkney was immediately transferred to Charles E. Egeler Reception and Guidance Center in Jackson, Michigan. Mrs. Pinkney told me by phone that she is not allowed to see her husband for 30 days!

Dorothy Pinkney thought her husband was coming home. “We were prepared for him to come home,” she told me.

But the deciders have other plans for the human rights fighter. Fearing his power to organize resistance to what amounts to ethnic cleanings, their campaign against Rev. Pinkney includes charges that he cited a verse from Deuteronomy – no joke! According to Foster’s report, a minister from the United Methodist Church in Detroit “was questioned on the stand regarding this passage. He stated that the meaning of the passage was ‘that God would bring down either blessings or curses upon a person based upon their actions.’” Judge Wiley also admonished Rev. Pinkney for stealing an election!

“When judges abuse their authority, we are all victims,” Mrs. Pinkney told the San Francisco Bay View.

But some "victims" of this ethnic cleansing have been quick to collaborate for personal gain. The Black city officials are "deceiving the people," Mrs. Pinkney said. They are suggesting that the facelift, the urban renewal, the revitalizing project, whatever you want to call it, will improve conditions for Blacks in Benton harbor! We live now in an era where Blacks collaborate! For a salary and a position in the "big" house, on a block near Master, they will throw their own people to the wolves. Will the unemployed Black really benefit from this land-grab? Will they practice a hole-in-one at the Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course or move into a condominium on the lakefront? Or do the deciders think employment for Blacks in Benton Harbor means work as a caddy or as a maid at the resort? This, too, we know, follows a familiar pattern: Whites live the "good life" at the expense of Black Americans by dividing the "elite" and middle class from the working class.

Even those Rev. Pinkney dared to represent are in hiding, fearful of retaliation from the deciders if they speak up on behalf of the Reverend. Is this the 1950s? Don’t be fooled! The pattern and operation of white supremacy hasn’t weakened. It’s improved to include the collusion of the victims and the punishment of authentic community leadership.

Mrs. Pinkney is “trying to stay focused and strong for him.”

In the meantime, the “one man” with too much influence is behind bars. This is a crime that goes unpunished. And progress for Blacks, Latino/as, Asians, the working class and the poor is here! Every day Rev. Pinkney isn’t free, we participate in his confinement.

Write a letter on behalf of Rev. Pinkney, ID 294671, to Charles E. Egeler Reception and Guidance Center, 3855 Cooper St., Jackson, MI 49201-7517.

Lenore Jean Daniels, Ph.D., is an Editorial Board member and columnist for and a columnist for City Capital Hues.