Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Whirlpool Company newspaper keeps on villainizing Pinkney

The Herald Palladium (better known as the Herald Pollution) ran a fluff piece recently, the topic being various websites which promote Benton Harbor/St. Joe, and other places on the web where people, events, etc. from the locale are mentioned. In the article there is a paragraph about YouTube where the following is stated:

"Other videos feature people speaking in defense of Edward Pinkney, who was convicted of voter fraud in 2007."

As long as Pinkney is around to speak truth to power, we can expect to read this type of thing in the HP. It will never be mentioned that both the Berrien County courthouse where he was convicted and the infamous judge Butzbaugh who convicted him are steeped in the most vicious corruption in Michigan. And, it will never be reported that Pinkney was framed. Much of this story can be found by clicking on the links at the beginning of this website.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Drug Laws Are Ravaging the Constitution

The Bill of Rights: Killed in Action

By Michael Dee, http://www.ursm.us/

Alaskans have enjoyed constitutional protection to possess marijuana since 1975. I have one question for NORML what happened to the rest of us?

Millions of Americans have been arrested and their property has been seized for violating the marijuana laws.

Millions of us have the right to question the validity of these laws and are denied the right to due process of law.

Marijuana is still illegal because the judiciary does not recognize marijuana users as persons and does not recognize marijuana as property. Only persons and property under the Constitution’s 4th and 5th Amendments are protected from unreasonable deprivation.

Lawyers and judges deny the enforcement of the marijuana laws affect individual rights to privacy, liberty and property secured by the 4th and 5th Amendments.

The courts claim no rights are affected by the enforcement of the marijuana laws because marijuana is not a fundamental right. Judicial review is the rational basis test not the reasonableness standard of the 4th amendment. Reasonable criminal laws are to protect the rights of others from an individual’s activities.

This year, without review, the U.S. Supreme Court is saying that it is rational to search and seize my person, house papers and effects for violating the marijuana laws.

The Bill of Rights was adopted to the Constitution of the United States on December 15, 1791. What happened to 4th and 5th Amendment of the Bill of Rights?

I would have to say “Killed in Action” in the “war on drugs” by those who take an oath to protect them. http://www.counterpunch.or/dee12262008.html

Interesting related 10 minute video: http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/505.html

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Rev. Pinkney's HOME!!!
(as of yesterday, 12/24)

Happy Solstice

More information to follow soon.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Wild Man Wiley on Berrien County Bench

Rev. Pinkney's Bond Hearing, Thursday Dec. 18

The hearing was to set bond and allow for Rev. Pinkney's release as he appeals a 3-10 year prison sentence for violating his probation for writing an article which was published in the Peoples Tribune. PeoplesTribune.org

Obviously furious and out of control emotionally, Judge Dennis Wiley was like a crazy man with hair standing up. Literally. For people who had traveled from afar, it was a rude shock to hear Judge W announce that the 10am hearing was being postponed until 3pm.

This judge, true to reputation, was anything but objective, and openly displayed a lot of anger. The ACLU's win in court, resulting in the release of Pinkney, is the last thing Berrien County power players want. Judge W didn't want to hear the case, said he didn't have time for rebuttal, and tried to persuade prosecutor Vigansky who he seemed at odds with to postpone the hearing. He eventually decided to hear the case. Vigansky appeared to care about how he conducted himself, Wiley did not and behaved like a drunken sailor. He threw two people out of the courtroom for slight chuckles, shouting to "get out!"

Rev. Pinkney, appearing on closed circuit TV from Jackson prison, was represented by two ACLU attorneys, both present in the courtroom. It was obvious from their astonished expressions that they may never have been subjected to this type of "legal proceeding" in their careers. Berrien County refused to bring Pinkney to the courtroom citing bad weather.

Judge W granted Pinkney a ten-thousand dollar cash surety bond -- more than had been sought by either Pinkney or the prosecutor. "I could have set $150,000.00!," threatened Judge W.

Despite last week's one and only order by the Court of Appeals for Judge W to set the bail amount, he set a long list of (outrageous) conditions to Pinkney's bond release:

no cell phone, no pager, no speaking engagements, no preaching in church, may engage in no defamatory or harassing behavior - including through the use of print or electronic media, no election activity, must wear a GPS tether and be under 24-hour curfew, may not go near Judge Butzbaugh, may not use a credit card ("you may as well cut up your credit card"). Also, Pinkney must keep away from the Berrien County Courthouse until his day in court on the appeal. Pinkney is known for his court observer activism. Attorney Michael Steinberg said the restrictions are excessive, and some are unconstitutional.

Get the feeling they are just a little afraid of this reverend?

From WSJM: Pinkney Granted Bond With Strict Conditions

Thursday, December 18, 2008

For profit chain gangs in Michigan?

Reposted from MWRO Blog

Having family and friends in prison teaches you a lot about what things are like from "the inside." MWRO's comrade and Benton Harbor political prisoner, Rev. Edward Pinkney, has been moved around to at least half a dozen Michigan prisons since he was sentenced a few months ago for quoting the Bible. Doing time is a difficult experience for all involved and the guilty should be punished. But punishment should be fair and not exploit an already marginalized group.

In Michigan, incarcerated men and women in many prisons work for Michigan State Industries (MSI)--a 1980 Dept of Corrections program that assigns jobs to all able-bodied prisoners. Fundamentally, MSI goals sound like a good idea, i.e., they provide "an opportunity for prisoners to learn marketable skills and to acquire sound work experience" while attempting "to address the problem of crime and the tension and idleness in prison resulting from overcrowding...." MSI has a map of all prison production locations where they sell and bid out items such as furniture, bed sheets, and outdoor banners online or through its Lansing showroom.

However, Rev. Pinkney's experience has given him and us some insights into prison conditions and prison work. Last week he wrote:
"Prison officials can control virtually every aspect of a prisoner's life. They can decide her/his actions - when (s)he will awake and when (s)he sleeps, how much is spent on food, who can visit prisoners and for how long, whether to force a prisoner to sleep on a metal grating without a mattress, how long a prisoner waits for medical treatment, whether a prisoner spends 24 hours a day in a cell or 12 hours a day at back-breaking labor, and what arbitrary (useless) rules will be followed. How and when to punish prisoners in many different ways, including depriving them of all food except "nutri-loaf" (tasteless ground-up leftovers pressed into a loaf). It is all up to the Dept. of Corrections.

In many states there is a move to remove gov. administration of prisons and privatize them for corporate profit. The labor of the prisoners belongs to the state but when the state transfers their interest to a private corporation, the labor of prisoners belong to the corporation. A corporation will run the lives of prisoners and decide how they shall labor and what they shall labor at. Do you see chances for profit here?"

Prison labor is not new. It's been used for centuries to help contain incarceration costs and keep prisoners disciplined and busy. But in recent times, it's being increasingly used in for profit ventures. MWRO opposes the slave labor practice of requiring incarcerated human beings to make or build products for the highest bidder. Not only do these conditions prevent a worker from demanding a fair price for his or her labor, it contributes to abusive and inhumane conditions beyond typical institutional incarceration.

(Image courtesy of Flickr)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Harbor Shores Would Destroy This

US Post Office understands the fragility and beauty of Great Lakes dunes which we must work to preserve.
These stamps are now available:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Whirlpool Corporation is accustomed to getting its way in Benton Harbor

...Whirlpool, which is so intent on pushing through its pet project in Benton Harbor, announced that it plans to lay off 5,000 workers, many in Michigan. But, despite the billion-dollar corporation's financial troubles, its will is the equivalent of law in Whirlpools headquarters town. The bars of Rev. Pinkney's cell testify to that.

America will never be the land of democracy and equal justice as long as the power of money places corporations above the law, or, in Rev. Pinkney's case, allows the corporate class to cause the incarceration of a civil rights leader.


Power of Media

"The press is so powerful in its image-making role, it can make a criminal look like he's the victim and make the victim look like he's the criminal." Malcolm X (1964)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Stolen Lives: Killed by Law Enforcement

"In the fall of 1996, a friend who was organizing for the first National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality asked me to help out. In the course of attending meetings, I met some of the relatives of victims of police killings. When I heard their stories of how their loved ones were killed, I was horrified. Like most people, I had believed the news accounts of these killings which usually describe the victims as criminals posing an immediate threat to the community. After meeting with many relatives and eyewitnesses over the course of the past three years, I now know that this widely promoted notion is very far from the truth.
Continuing to attend meetings, I would hear about police killings occurring weekly and decided to keep track of these deaths. I began my own newspaper research and compiled the results. When I could, I contacted family members for their version of events. I have yet to come across an eyewitness account which corroborates the police version of events."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holiday Reading List

Plunder: When the Rule of Law is Illegal by Ugo Mattei and Laura Nader (Wiley-Blackwell, 2008). When raw imperial and corporate power shape, control and interpret "the rule of law," the latter becomes, in the commentary by William Grieder, "an ideological mechanism for subjugating peoples and imposing injustice."

Undoing the Bush-Cheney Legacy: A Tool Kit for Congress & Activists, edited by Ann Fagan Ginger (Meiklejohn Civil Liberties, Berkeley, California, 2008) Compiled by a veteran constitutional and human rights attorney, through this paperback (see mcli.org) Ann Ginger cites specifically the legislation, regulations, executive orders and presidential signing statements that violate our constitution, treaties and other basic laws. She urges an omnibus "Restore Democracy Act" in 2009 to repeal the official illegalities of the Bush regime.

The Power of the Peddler
by Jeno F. Paulucci with Les Rich and James Tills (Paulucci International, 2005). Jeno is a quite different kind of peddler--creating more companies challenging giant corporations into his nineties than you can count, supporting and insisting on labor unions in his factories, defiantly defending the peoples right to "sue the bastards." This generous man even printed blurbs on his book jacket from detractors.

For stimulating reflection try: A Year With Emerson edited by Richard Grossman (David R. Godine, 2005). Long-time Ralph Waldo Emerson scholar, Grossman selects a thought, musing or observation by Emerson for each day of the year--all 365 of them. What a way to start or end a day for a man who took time to think and urge us toward self-reliance.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

ACLU Praises Court Decision to Release Minister from Prison Pending Appeal

DETROIT– The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan applauded a Court of Appeals decision today granting its motion for bond on behalf of a Benton Harbor minister who is serving a 3-10 year prison sentence for writing a newspaper article that harshly criticized the judge who presided over his trial.

"We are thrilled that Rev. Edward Pinkney will be home with his family celebrating Christmas instead of sitting in prison for criticizing a judge," said Michigan ACLU Legal Director Michael J. Steinberg. "The court properly recognized that serious constitutional questions are raised when a minister is thrown in prison for predicting what God might do."

Rev. Pinkney is a Baptist minister in Benton Harbor, a predominantly African American community with a troubled relationship with its predominantly white sister city, St. Joseph. Rev. Pinkney has long been an outspoken community activist and advocate, frequently denouncing injustice and racial inequality in Benton Harbor, its local government, and the Berrien County criminal justice system in particular.

In 2007, Rev. Pinkney was sentenced to probation for violating Michigan election law. But his probation was revoked and he was resentenced to 3-10 years in prison solely because of an article he wrote for a small Chicago newspaper. Quoting a passage from the Bible, Rev. Pinkney predicted that God would "curse" the judge unless he "hearken[ed] unto the voice of the Lord thy God to observe [and] to do all that is right." Rev. Pinkney also expressed his opinion in the article that the judge was racist, dumb, and corrupt.

The ACLU argued in its motion for bond pending appeal that the statements Rev. Pinkney made in his newspaper editorial, while offensive to many, are clearly protected speech under the First Amendment. The ACLU further urged the Court of Appeals to release Rev. Pinkney on bond while it considers the appeal of his sentence.

In an order issued yesterday, the Court of Appeals granted the ACLU motion and has asked the Berrien County Circuit Court to set the amount of bond. A date has not been set yet for a hearing to determine the bond amount, however, the ACLU will ask for the earliest date possible. The Court of Appeals is expected to decide the merits of Rev. Pinkney's appeal in 2009.

In addition to Steinberg, Rev. Pinkney is represented by ACLU Cooperating Attorneys James J. Walsh and Rebecca O'Reilly of the respected corporate law firm Bodman LLP.

To read the Court of Appeals order, go to: http://www.aclumich.org/pdf/pinkneybondbrief.pdf.

To read the ACLU Brief in Support of Bond Pending Appeal, go to http://www.aclumich.org/pdf/pinkneybondbrief.pdf

To read Rev. Pinkney's article, go to http://www.peoplestribune.org/PT.2007.11/PT.2007.11.18.html

CONTACT: Michael J. Steinberg, ACLU of Michigan Legal Director at 313.578.6814

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Comment posted

The HP ran a story on Tues. 12/9: Friends of Jean Klock Park is appealing the decision a Berrien County Trial Court judge made Aug. 22 in dismissing the environmental group's lawsuit against Benton Harbor and Harbor Shores.


Most of the comments after the article are propaganda, obviously posted by Whirlpool/Harbor Shores ruling elite. But here's one grounded in reality, containing some chilling facts:

"I am a life long resident of Benton Harbor for 36 years. A golf course is not going to help our community. It will destroy it. As real estate profits surge and code enforments compliance will make it impossible for the existing people to live in our community.
You all say it's good for Benton Harbor but all the profit making businesses are being built in St Joe and Benton Twp.
What about the jobs that Harbor Shores was to provide for Benton Harbor? The entire project was already reviewed by Judge Schofiled along with the other Berrien County Judges prior to the presenting to the City Government.
He has a vested interest in this project which should make him ineligible to make any decisions on how to proceed.
The Friends of Jean Klock are on point. The Golf Club is not going to allow any and everyone who is a citizen of Benton Harbor to be a member; it will be handled just like the Republicans Economic Club, and Rotary Clubs.
One will need to have a certain status to be a member and it will only be by recommendation.
The plan for the layout is eliminating the parking to a bare minimum and making renovations to have walk ways to the beach from the City of St Joesph. How is that a benefit to us?
Harbor Shores states that it will not build business on BH land due to soil. WTH! Then let's take time to get the soil treated and put the businesses there that will employ residents and give our community a better lifestyle.
Harbor Shores is using BH because most of the land is located in a Renaissance Zone and will not pay taxes to the cities. So all of the 200 to 600 homes will be tax free.
Our Mayor, City Manager and Commissioners better wake up or this will be their last tenure in the seats they are in.
Change is what we need but hidden agendas to benefit those who are already financially stable is not!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Clemency for Rev. Pinkney

New information from Atty. Kelly Flint: A public hearing for Rev. Pinkney would have been initiated by the Parole Board if they had decided to go in that direction. Instead, they sent the clemency application to Gov. Granholm and her Executive Clemency Advisory Council(ECAC). At this point, the ECAC members are the ones who would review the application and make a recommendation to the governor. The governor will make the decision (although she will most likely follow the recommendation of the ECAC). All of the clemency papers are in the hands of the members now.

Two ways you can make your support known: 1. Call the governor's office, 517-335-7858
and state your support for clemency for Rev. Pinkney. 2. Contact the Executive Clemency Advisory Council members by writing to them in care of the governor, or use contact info. below.

Council Contact Info. -

Dr. Charles G. Adams of Detroit, pastor of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, 19472 Suffolk Dr., Highland Park, MI 48203, 313-368-0210, appointed to represent the general public.
Ms. Gloria L. Baker of Roseville, accountant with Urban Science, 200 Renaissance Ctr. #18100, Detroit, MI 48243,
313-259-9900, appointed to represent crime victims or their families.
Ms. Joyce M. Braithwaite-Brickley of Traverse City, retired, appointed to represent the general public.
Info. not located.
Ms. Mary Beth Kur, private practice: 523 Mitchell St., Petoskey, MI 49770, mbkur@sbcglobal.net, 877-746-4625, former Charlevoix County prosecutor, appointed to represent law enforcement.
Rabbi David A. Nelson, Beth Shalom, 14601 W. Lincoln Rd., Oak Park, MI 48237, cbs@congbethshalom.org,
248-547-7970, of Southfield, appointed to represent the general public.
Ms. Janette L. Price of Eaton Rapids, former warden for the Michigan Department of Corrections, now retired, appointed to represent the general public. Info. not located.
The Honorable Rudolph A. Serra, private practice: 18953 Mallina St., Grosse Pointe, MI 48236, 313-331-7839, former judge of the 36th District Court, appointed to represent law enforcement and designated chair of the council for a term expiring at the pleasure of the governor.

Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, P.O. Box 30013, Lansing, Michigan 48909 517-335-7858

Monday, December 08, 2008


"Laws are cobwebs for the rich, and chains for the poor."
August Spies, English Labor activist and Haymarket martyr

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Criminalization of Poverty in Capitalist America

Writing from the mid-90’s, even more crucial today, especially in Berrien County. Exerpts.


An anonymous poet (1700's) on crime: "The law will punish a man or woman who steals the goose from the hillside, but lets the greater robber loose who steals the hillside from the goose."
From 3/12/93 Wall Street Journal article, "Common Criminals--Just About Everyone Violates Some Laws, Even Model Citizens" byline by Stephen J. Adler/Wade Lambert stated: We are a nation of lawbreakers. We exaggerate tax-deductible expenses, lie to customs officials, bet on card games and sports events, disregard jury notices, drive while intoxicated--and hire illegal childcare workers. [not to mention convict and incarcerate innocent people or steal lakefront property from residents of a city]
Crime is big Business
...political decisions of bankers are about who will be poor. Corporate decisions in '50s to remove industry from communities of color were about who would be unemployed. Decisions by developers/bankers about redevelopment (redlining & gentrification) are about who will be homeless.
In 1984 American Catholic bishops called poverty in America a "social and moral scandal that must not be ignored," "works of charity cannot and should not have to substitute for humane public policy. The Physicians Task Force on Hunger in America reported on a 2-year national study: despite 58 months of economic expansion, hunger became more widespread(affecting some 20 million Americans), largely because of "governmental failure."
Hunger/homelessness are deliberately imposed socioeconomic conditions...rich get richer, while the poor get prison and early death...board rooms/White House are social policy makers who increase social repression by building more prisons, creating harsher legal sanctions (i.e., 52 death penalty laws, three strikes you're out), and becoming ever more heedless to the social implications of poverty as an impetus to committing crime.
...crime pays. The U. S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics announced on 7/15/90: federal, state & local gov. spent $61 billion for civil and criminal justice in ‘88, a 34% increase since ‘85.
Annually, laws are changed to ensure profitability in the crime industry. Social conditions serve to maintain levels of poverty and feed the industry of crime.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Draw Your Own Conclusions About Berrien County, Whirlpool, & the Company Tabloid

Some headlines in the Dec. 4-5, 08 Herald Palladium, St. Joseph, Michigan:

Paredes Faces Parole Board
Ex-Store Clerk Testifies in Murder Trial
Berrien Drug Treatment Programs Get Boost [let's wait to see where the money ends up]
Judge: Stabbing Case Evidence Strong
Trial Begins in Slaying of Mobil Clerk
Suspect Risks Life Cold Chase
Three Sought in Pot-Growing Case

Are jobs deliberately removed from this county so the crime business can expand to proportions unknown in almost any other midwest counties with similar sized populations?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Rev. Pinkney Is Moved Again

Benton Harbor friends, family, and statewide activists are VERY concerned about the many correctional facility moves that Rev. Pinkney has experienced lately. In the last month, he's been moved to at least six different prisons--that we know of!

Last Tuesday, 11/25/08, he was moved to Jackson. On Monday, 12/1/08, he called his wife to tell her he was being moved to Muskegon. Today we learned he is in Kingsley, Michigan, at Pugsley Correctional Facility.

Just because you move a 'truth speaker' doesn't mean you'll stop the truth! Then again, it does make it easier for this courageous leader to share his story and build up the people's army on the government's dime.

Continue signing the online petition to free Rev. Pinkney, and send your letter requesting clemency to Gov. Granholm.

(Image courtesy People's Tribune/DaymonJHartley.com)

Land Destruction for the Wealthy in rogue Berrien County

Two themes which run through the Whirlpool Corporation's "company paper" are:
1. certain people in the county are wrecking the land and peoples' lives, so set up a business in Benton Harbor! and, 2. live in fear: our law enforcement & court system are out to get you. These "certain people"/Whirlpool need to keep Rev. Pinkney locked away. As the most vocal resident whistleblowing about all of this, it is essential that Rev. Pinkney remains behind bars to prevent him from hampering "business as usual" in Berrien County.

Lining up for Harbor Shores
PHOTO: http://www.heraldpalladium.com/articles/2008/11/30/local_news/83293.txt
Don Campbell H-P - Parcel 4 of the Harbor Shores development is pictured Thursday. The 8.3 acres will host holes 3, 4 and 5 of the Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course that anchors the development. Developers say they have taken 115 deposits for house lots in the project.
115 people put down money for residences in new development
Sun. Nov. 30, 08
Benton Harbor - Potential homebuyers and developers are lining up to get a piece of Harbor Shores, the 530-acre residential and resort development being built around a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course in Benton Harbor, Benton Township and St. Joseph.
Kerry Wright, the development's property specialist, said 115 people have put down $1,000 deposits for residences in Harbor Shores. The deposit essentially reserves their place in line, so they will have priority to buy the lot or home they want when building plans are finalized.
More than a quarter of those reservations are from people who do not already live in the Twin Cities area, a news release said.
Mark Hesemann, managing director of Evergreen Development, said 115 deposits is a remarkable number considering the current economic environment. He said some golf and residential communities under development in other parts of the country are not receiving any reservations. (con't. at link above)

Don Campbell H-P http://www.heraldpalladium.com/articles/2008/12/02/local_news/82644.txt
The Kitchen Mart building along Main Street is one of the buildings targeted for development in downtown Benton Harbor. Although it had fallen into disrepair, developers plan to revive the structure as retail space and apartments.
Much has been done, but unsightly buildings remain
Kevin Allen, Mon., Dec. 1, 08
BENTON HARBOR - Several old, neglected buildings in downtown Benton Harbor have been renovated into useful, attractive places for living, working and entertaining in recent years. But, despite all the progress, eyesores still abound, from abandoned gas stations to vacant buildings with crumbling facades.
Several investors have put time and money into helping the downtown rise again, and they want the city to take action against owners of derelict buildings that they say are hurting their efforts. "The lack of activity by individuals, either speculating on buildings or holding off for significant amounts of money more than the buildings are worth in today's market, are greatly impeding the momentum of the redevelopment effort in downtown Benton Harbor," said Tony McGhee, vice president of physical development and business attraction for Cornerstone Alliance. (con't. at link above)