Saturday, June 13, 2009

Excerpts from 3 articles

Michigan Pastor Denied Right to Attend his Own Hearing

A Michigan judge ruled this week that the Rev. Edward Pinkney, a Benton Harbor minister and longtime vocal community activist who recently served 13 months in jail couldn’t attend his own hearing in Grand Rapids before the Michigan Court of Appeals. Rev. Pinkney who is now under 24-hour house arrest and probation for quoting the Bible was requesting to be released from his home monitoring system so he could be present for his day in court yesterday. [6/9/09]

Pinkney’s case has gained the attention of the ACLU, religious and social justice groups throughout the country who feel his treatment and sentencing of 3 to 10 years, is not only excessive, but it is also a gross violation of the minister’s religious and civil rights. Before a full courtroom of supporters and Rev. Pinkney’s wife, his attorneys presented their arguments and now await an Appellate Court ruling that could take months. Meanwhile, a Michigan Supreme Court ruling on whether Rev. Pinkney should be denied the right to leave his house without court approval is expected any day. Full story -

Mich. Court of Appeals hears case of preacher sentenced for criticizing judge
Benton Harbor preacher is under house arrest and unable to attend appeal in his case
By Eartha Jane Melzer 6/11/09

A politically active Baptist preacher from Benton Harbor, Rev. Edward Pinkney, remained under near constant house arrest on Tuesday as a crowd gathered at the Michigan Court of Appeals in Grand Rapids for oral arguments in appeals of his politically charged conviction on election fraud charges for which he was given probation and the 3-to-10-year prison sentence he received when a judge said he violated probation by writing an article for a Chicago newspaper.

“This is truly a miscarriage of justice,” said Michael Steinberg of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, which is representing Pinkney in the matter of the probation violation. “In a constitutional democracy a person cannot be imprisoned for criticizing a judge in a newspaper article or expressing his religious beliefs.”

Pinkney is a well-known figure in economically devastated and segregated Benton Harbor, where he has organized community forums, participated in local government meetings and attended court as an observer regularly for years...
In 2005, he organized a successful recall effort against a Benton Harbor city commissioner. But the recall was set aside after then-prosecutor James Cherry argued that Pinkney had violated campaign laws as part of the campaign.
He claimed that Pinkney offered people $5 to vote and that he handled absentee ballots of others, which is unlawful.
The first jury trial on these charges ended in a mistrial in March 2006, and Pinkney was convicted of the charges at a second trial in March 2007.
Pinkney’s attorneys have identified numerous problems with his trial. They argue that people were not allowed to observe jury selection, that a key witness that alleged that Pinkney had paid voters fabricated the story under pressure from the prosecution. They also argued that the law that makes holding someone else’s absentee ballot a felony is unfair. Full story -

Benton Harbor Believes in Fighting Back by Dr. Lenore J. Daniels

...Rev. Pinkney’s speaking and his activism draws from a rich tradition of revolutionary activist and human rights advocates, one perhaps foreign to many white Americans educated within the confines of a Western perspective. The shock white Americans experienced at the “discovery” of a Rev. Jeremiah Wright exposed the assumption that hidden in the depths of the Black community are individuals, activists and truth tellers like that of a man who in 1966-67-68 warned America that its lawless agenda was anti-human.

“God has a way of standing before nations with judgment, and it seems that I can hear God saying to America, ‘You’re too arrogant! And if you don’t change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power, and I’ll place it in the hands of a nation that doesn’t even know my name.”

The nation’s response to Rev. Martin Luther King was death!

Judge Dennis Wiley ignored “the April 22 Supreme Court order to “articulate the reasons” for keeping Pinkney under 24/7 house arrest with electronic tether” (BANCO).

And what tradition informs Judge Dennis Wiley’s silencing of truth?

The terms of Rev. Pinkney’s 24-hour house arrest, as Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of Pan-African News Wire writes, are draconian. “Under his appeal bond he is denied the right to preach, grant interviews, write articles, address crowds or engage in politics.”
Full story -