Sunday, November 29, 2009

Berrien County Commissioners Take No Action

Rev. Pinkney delivered a copy of the following to each Berrien County Commissioner this past week:

The Indigent Defense Service in the Berrien County Courthouse has the following deficiencies, among others:

1. Judges, prosecutors, and indigent defense all work together against the defendants.
(The judiciary is not independent from the prosecutorial function.)

2. There are no written attorney performance standards, nor is there a meaningful system of attorney supervision and monitoring.

3. There are no guidelines on how to identify conflicts of interest.

4. There are no attorney work standards

5. There is no adequate attorney training.

6. There is no merit based attorney hiring and retention program.

7. There are no written client elegibility standards.


The refusal of the court-appointed Indigent Defense Council to put the case, which is against their clients, to the credible, meaningful, adversarial test, causes members of the defendent class to suffer numerous harms, including but not limited to:

1. wrongful denial of representation
2. wrongful conviction of crimes
3. unecessary or prolonged pretrial detentions
4. guilty pleas to innappropriate charges and denial of the right to a trial when meritorious defense are available
5. harsher sentences than the facts of the case warrant
6. few alternatives to incarceration

We the people want Berrien County to provide indigent defense programs and representation consistent with the requirements of the US government.

Berrien County Commissioners know that taking no action is wrong, but they continue to preside over world class human rights abuses.

Their inaction for decades and decades is criminal and unconstitutional.

Friday, November 27, 2009

New Pamphlet on Benton Harbor
Fighting The Corporations In America’s Small Towns

A new pamphlet published by the People’s Tribune discusses the victories and next steps in the struggle against the corporations in Benton Harbor. A battle has been won, and this should be celebrated, but there is still a war going on. Will America have prosperity and democracy, or live in poverty under the heel of open corporate power? Will the American people move to take over the corporations before they take over society? Place your orders now. Send $3 for each pamphlet or order 10 for $20 to People’s Tribune, PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654-3524.
We Need Justice in Benton Harbor by Dorothy Pinkney

[excerpts]...On highways and in neighborhoods in the city of Benton Harbor people are regularly subjected to stop and search procedures based on racially biased drug courier profiles for just being black...schools are segregated and profoundly unequal...more than before Brown vs. Board of of all Black men in their twenties are either behind bars or on parole in Benton Harbor because of corruption in the Berrien County court system.

The promise of fair and equal treatment for Black people remains frustratingly elusive in the city of Benton Harbor, Michigan, especially in Berrien County. Our schools are segregated and profoundly unequal, more than before the U.S. Supreme Court 1954 decision in Brown versus the Board of Education. Equal, adequate, public education is far from a reality in Benton Harbor. The city has substantially fewer resources than white schools in every area from teacher qualification to money spent on school books. This is because of the inequality in school funding, which is based on property taxes. The federal government must provide equal funding for every child.

As far as the so called “war on drugs” in Benton Harbor, police officer Andrew Collins and Berrien County prosecutors knew drugs were being planted on Benton Harbor residents. Over one hundred people were sent to jail or prison because of this. The war on crime disproportionately targets Black men and one-third of all Black men in their twenties are either behind bars or on parole in the city of Benton Harbor because of the corruption in the Berrien County court system.

On highways and in neighborhoods in the city of Benton Harbor people are regularly subjected to stop and search procedures based on racially biased drug courier profiles for just being black. Frederick Douglas’s question of making good the promise of the Constitution must be answered with a resounding yes! By any means necessary, for all of our people. So you must keep your mind on your freedom and freedom on your mind.


Rev. Pinkney was released from tether in an Appellate Court victory. But he still must pay court costs, aimed at breaking a defendant, in the amount of $6,405. Send donations to BANCO, 1940 Union St., Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Interview with Belinda Brown
Editor’s Note: Belinda Brown is a leader in the struggle for a just Benton Harbor. She was interviewed by Joseph Peery of the People’s Tribune.

PT: Talk about your fight with the corporations as a business owner.

Belinda Brown: I originally started my business in the early 90s before I was awakened to what was really going on. I was on a pursuit to incubate other businesses for the community. But I came to find out that the Chamber of Commerce is tied into Whirlpool; it was called Cornerstone Alliance at that time. I gave them my business plan to bring jobs to the community. Disturbingly, I soon found out that all businesses that take their business to Cornerstone Alliance are automatically sabotaged. This happened to me and to friends of mine. Whatever anybody tried to do that didn’t fit into their plan of their 25-year take over of Benton Harbor is automatically sabotaged. There’s no way to compete with these corporations. You are going to get kicked to the curb. If you don’t fit into their plan, you’re going to fail.

PT: Could you talk about how to get youth involved in the struggle?

BB: We’re excited. We feel that our new Benton Harbor chapter of the NAACP is going to make a great impact on our young people. Pastor Pinkney is the President and he is a fighter. He is going to make something happen with the situation we’re facing. We’re focusing on the education issue and trying to get our young people involved to be a powerful movement to take back our city. We feel that we have had enough. It’s not too late and if we work hard and expose to the world what happens when you rise up and take a stand against the forces that be, no matter how powerful they are, we can win. Our young people are excited about this.

PT: What kind of a new America, new Benton Harbor, could we have?

BB: Now that the young people have educated themselves to what happened and how it happened, the fight is on. I mean the fight to change this world in regard to how people are treated. Young people hate that they are subject to this type of struggle in this century. They looked at the conditions that their parents suffer from because of this planned take over of Benton Harbor by the corporations so they are looking for opportunities to keep it from happening to anybody. Because they had to experience this, they can be a model to help educate. This generation is fearless and ready for something different.This is what is going to be needed to see a new America. They are saying we’re going to make something better happen.
Fighting The Corporations In America’s Small Towns

A new pamphlet published by the People’s Tribune discusses the victories and next steps in the struggle against the corporations in Benton Harbor. A battle has been won, and this should be celebrated, but there is still a war going on. Will America have prosperity and democracy, or live in poverty under the heel of open corporate power? Will the American people move to take over the corporations before they take over society? Place your orders now. Send $3 for each pamphlet or order 10 for $20 to People’s Tribune, PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654-3524.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Lynne Stewart, the Patriot Act, and COINTELPRO
by Larry Pinkney (no relation to Rev. Pinkney)

Cloaked in the guise of combating terrorism and of national security and virtually in plain view, the Bill of Rights and civil liberties in this nation have been, and are continuing to be, steadily, systematically, and meticulously shredded. The consequences are dire.

No matter what the pretext, one does not protect, preserve, and strengthen hard won civil liberties by limiting and thereby gutting and destroying them. Indeed the best, most effective and genuine means of assuring real national security is by ensuring civil liberties, judicial fairness, and equitable social and economic justice inside this nation itself; and no amount of government / judiciary intimidation, spying or policing actions at home, or military actions abroad, can or will ever bring this about, nor are they really intended to, despite any fallacious rhetoric to the contrary.

The case of seventy-year-old great grandmother, cancer survivor, former school librarian, long time political activist / organizer, and former New York City defense attorney Lynne Stewart is indicative of the U.S. Government’s ongoing attempts to frighten, discredit, intimidate, and silence the people of this nation, and most particularly in this case, defense attorneys who dare to seriously exercise the constitutional right and duty to provide their clients with a vigorous and uncompromising legal defense.

Lynne Stewart, as a defense attorney, has for well over three decades, successfully defended clients who were the targets of U.S. Government subterfuge, police brutality, and prosecutorial subterfuge and discreditation. In so doing she constantly demonstrated to young lawyers what it really means to stand up and defend the people in both word and deed. The people that Lynne Stewart legally and vigorously defended ranged from members of the Black Panther Party, to the Weather Underground, to U.S. protestors demonstrating against (the then U.S. and Israeli supported) apartheid government of South Africa. Moreover, she did not hesitate to vigorously defend the human and legal rights of Muslims unjustly persecuted and targeted by U.S. Government agencies in this the 21st century. (Reference The Black Commentator of July 12, 2007.

Thus, Lynne Stewart herself became a target of the U.S. Government in the person of the then Bush / Cheney U.S. Attorney General, John Ashcroft. This scenario did not “change” under the present Obama / Biden / Rahm Emanuel administration or its current U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder. If anything in 2009, matters became even worse.

As a direct result of U.S. Government subterfuge, entrapment, and disinformation (with corporate media complicity) against Lynne Stewart, she was on February 10, 2005, wrongfully and shockingly convicted of a bogus “conspiracy to aid and abet terrorism” charge relating to her legal defense of one of her clients. An appeal was immediately filed, in hopes that the appeal court would recognize and respect truth and justice and reverse this gross injustice. However, the appeal court on November 17, 2009, did just the opposite and upheld this bogus, outrageous, and retaliatory conviction and sentence against the people’s lawyer - Lynne Portia Stewart. This incredibly courageous, seventy-year-old former librarian, who is presently also battling a serious medical condition that requires surgery must never be abandoned by us. She did not abandon justice-loving people and we cannot abandon her. She is a target and a victim of the Patriot Act (the 21st century COINTELPRO) and the ongoing hysteria which was whipped up under the Bush / Cheney administration and is being continued and further tweaked under the Obama / Biden administration. We must remember that Lynne Stewart spoke and speaks truth to power on behalf of the every day people and we can do no less. DO NOT LET HER STAND ALONE! DO NOT ALLOW THIS CORRUPT, HYPOCRITICAL, WAR MONGERING GOVERNMENT AND JUDICIARY TO COWER US INTO SUBMISSION! Continue to follow the developments in Lynne Stewart’s case closely, with a view towards reversing this gross injustice to her and to all of us! By supporting Lynne Stewart, we are loving and supporting the very best in ourselves.

Bear in mind that the above-described developments with respect to Lynne Stewart, are part and parcel and yet another example, of the ongoing shredding of the Bill of Rights and civil liberties in this nation. The government actions against Lynne Stewart are intended to make us tremble and cower, neither of which must we do. Too much is at stake! Real national security can only be had when the people refuse to allow the government to quash our human and political rights for therein is our national security.

When, in the name of “national security” or of allegedly combating “terrorism,” a government that cloaks its reprehensible acts of spying on its own people while simultaneously gutting their civil liberties is in reality fostering, not combating, terrorism. It’s all about stifling any substantive informed discussion and dissent. Such a government is not worthy of support. Democracy, if it is to be real, is not some commodity to be bought, sold, or manipulated by government or corporations. It is contentious and must be vigorously exercised.

The goal of the infamously notorious, unconstitutional, murderous, and amoral U.S. Government’s Counter Intelligence Program, known as COINTELPRO, which was fervently carried out internally against the peoples of the United States, was to “neutralize” political dissent by “discrediting, framing, disrupting, imprisoning, and often murdering” individual political activists, and where possible, targeting entire political organizations. These systematic outrages were of course engaged in by local, state, and federal policing authorities working together throughout this nation; all in the nebulous, shrill name of so-called “national security.” The corporate news media played a deadly, covert, and insidious role of complicity by disseminating disinformation to assist in ensuring the deadly effectiveness of COINTELPRO. As a direct result of the U.S.

Government COINTELPRO sponsored activities many people were framed, imprisoned, or murdered (including the U.S. government / police assassinations of Black Panther Party leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark), not to mention the tens of thousands of families, lives and/or reputations were utterly shattered. The thousands of targets of COINTELPRO included (but were by no means limited to) Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Huey P. Newton, H. Rap Brown (Jamil Al-Amin), and a host of many, many other men and women political activists nationwide. Entire organizations were COINTELPRO targets including the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Black Panther Party (BPP), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the American Indian Movement (AIM), the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), etc. While COINTELPRO primarily targeted nonwhites, there were to be sure, whites who the U.S. Government also sought to “neutralize” intimidate, and discredit due to their unmitigated audacity to stand up and dissent against the U.S. policies of wars abroad and social, judicial and economic injustice at home; all in the bogus name of “national security.” It should be noted that down to the present day, as a result of COINTELPRO, there are numerous political prisoners still languishing in ‘America’s’ gulag prisons. This is and should be absolutely unacceptable to all of us.

Notwithstanding the deliberately misleading rhetoric of the Obama / Biden / Rahm Emanuel administration, this nation has entered an era of de facto renewed 21st century COINTELPRO activities and McCarthyism under the insipid guise of the “Patriot Act.” This is the same Patriot Act that Barack Obama is seeking to extend, just as he has already extended and expanded the notorious activities of the U.S. Government’s international kidnapping and torture program known as “rendition.”

While the pro-apartheid Zionist Obama / Biden / Rahm Emanuel administration and its allies in the corporate media have cynically used the increasing pain and suffering of the ‘American’ people against we ourselves by turning the attention of the nation to a fake debate on “health reform” which is neither open, honest, nor representative of genuine systemic change for the hurting masses, the Obama administration pursues its wars abroad in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, and elsewhere while seeking to continue and strengthen the ill gotten gains of repression made under the previous Bush / Cheney administration by continuing the Patriot Act here at home, including among other provisions, the despicably undemocratic, patently unconstitutional, and outrageous portion within said Act known as the “lone wolf” provision. Make no mistake about it: This political repression is being, and meant to be, directed against citizens and noncitizens alike in this nation of all colors and ethnicities. It is time to put aside our petty ideological squabbles and unite against this repression.

No matter what the pretense, the PATRIOT ACT is the continuation of COINTELPRO today, which has now been codified into law. The Obama / Biden / Rahm Emanuel administration is demonstrating itself to be as hypocritical and amoral as its Bush / Cheney predecessors - -with one noteworthy exception: this present administration is, at least for the political moment, much more articulate and adept at misleading the people. It is therefore far more dangerously effective at economically, judicially, and socially emaciating the masses of people than the Bush / Cheney administration could have ever even dreamed of being.

It must be reiterated: The Patriot Act is the continuation of COINTELPRO and the corporate, self-described “news” media today continues in its shameful role of aiding and abetting - through disinformation, obfuscation, and omission - -the stripping away of real freedoms and civil liberties in this nation and around the world.

We must be aware of, but certainly not intimidated by these developments. Political repression at home is not merely on its way. It is in fact, in large measure already here, though not yet recognized by some. Both the liberals and the lunatic right wingers of the Democratic and Republican Parties (i.e. the Republicrats) are, in essence, moving this nation, at an ever increasing pace, towards deepening political repression. The so-called liberals pretend that the dangerous erosion of alleged freedoms and civil liberties is simply not happening right in front of their very eyes, while the right wingers are virtually inviting it (i.e. political repression) as a means to their ends.

Our task is to educate, agitate, and organize throughout this nation. We must be clear that the constant so-called specter of “terrorism” is, like the specter of “communism” during the McCarthy period of fear and repression, being fanned and fostered by the misguided, dishonest, hypocritical and undemocratic practices on the part of the U.S. Government and its corporate allies at home and abroad. Remember that democracy is not spread at the tip of a sword, in the muzzle of rifles, or by horrific explosions of cluster and/or so-called ‘smart’ bombs and the like. It is terrorism that is in fact fostered and spread by these things, not democracy.

We must always remember that unjust wars abroad, and political repression, subterfuge, and disinformation at home go hand and hand.

We must struggle to reverse the increasing political repression in this nation and bring about an immediate end to the unjust U.S. wars abroad. We must struggle for genuine (not fake) single payer universal health care, for full employment, decent housing, and relevant education, judicial accountability and justice, an end to the new and hideous form of racism and economic apartheid gentrification in communities throughout this nation. We must struggle for real and serious systemic change and an end to corporate capitalist de facto hegemony.

No more unjust wars! No more COINTELPRO! No more PATRIOT ACT and its concomitant political repression at home! No more lies! Let us stop allowing this administration to give political cover to repression at home and Empire abroad! Enough!

“Change we can believe in?” The only real change that we can believe in is the change that we the people demand, organize for, and bring about ourselves!

Life to the masses of people in this nation and around the world! Onward then sisters and brothers! It’s time to intensify in speaking truth to power and educate, agitate, and organize. Remember: “Don’t Mourn. ORGANIZE!” Editorial Board Member, Larry Pinkney, is a veteran of the Black Panther Party, the former Minister of Interior of the Republic of New Africa, a former political prisoner and the only American to have successfully self-authored his civil/political rights case to the United Nations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In connection with his political organizing activities in opposition to voter suppression, etc., Pinkney was interviewed in 1988 on the nationally televised PBS NewsHour, formerly known as The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. For more about Larry Pinkney see the book, Saying No to Power: Autobiography of a 20th Century Activist and Thinker, by William Mandel [Introduction by Howard Zinn].

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Former city manager suing Benton Harbor

Marsh wants his job back as well as unspecified damages
J. Swidwa - H-P, Wednesday, November 4, 2009

(Article with commentary in bold)

ST. JOSEPH - Former City Manager Richard Marsh is suing the city of Benton Harbor under the state's Whistleblower Protection Act, alleging that he was shown the door after he reported suspected criminal activity and irregularities related to the city's finances. MARSH CARRIED OUT HIS OWN INVESTIGATION AND FOUND CORRUPTION IN THE CITY FINANCE DEPT.

In his lawsuit, Marsh is asking for his job back, along with an unspecified amount in damages. In a complaint filed Friday in Berrien County Trial Court, Marsh alleges the City Commission's actions caused him loss of earnings and career opportunities, mental and emotional distress, and loss of reputation and esteem. HE CAN'T DO WORSE THAN ANYONE ELSE WHO'S BEEN CITY MANAGER.

He alleges the city's actions were malicious and deliberate. WE AGREE 100%. CITY ACTIONS WERE DESIGNED TO SEND A MESSAGE FROM WHIRLPOOL TO ANYONE WHO WANTS TO BE CITY MNGR.

City Attorney Charlette Pugh Tall did not return a phone call from The Herald-Palladium seeking comment Tuesday.

Marsh alleges the City Commission's 6-2 vote not to renew his contract, which expired Sept. 11, was in retaliation for his requests for an investigation into alleged unethical and illegal conduct by Commissioner Eddie Marshall and for Marsh's attempt to make an auditor's memo a subject of public discussion. Marsh released the memo to the media after commissioners refused to place it on a meeting agenda. MARSH FAILED TO CHECK WITH WHIRLPOOL BEFORE REQUESTING THE INVESTIGATION!


In the lawsuit, Marsh claims he was instructed by the mayor and certain members of the commission that the memo from Plante & Moran listing problems in the city's Finance Department was not to be the subject of public discussion.

At a meeting Aug. 3, Mayor Wilce Cooke and Commissioners Marshall, Ralph Crenshaw, Ricky Hill, David Shaw and Juanita Henry voted not to renew Marsh's contract. James Hightower and Bryan Joseph voted against the resolution. MARSHALL'S LUCKY THEY DIDN'T VOTE TO SHOOT HIM FOR REQUESTING AN INVESTIGATION!

"I think it's sad and it's tragic that here we go again with another lawsuit that the city has to deal with because of decisions and behaviors of the mayor and some commissioners that were not in the best interest of the city," Joseph said Tuesday after learning of Marsh's lawsuit. "Richard Marsh was truly doing a good job. When people speak the truth and try to get to the bottom of problems, they're let go. Once again, it's a revolving door."

Benton Harbor has had 14 city managers in the last 20 years. Neighboring St. Joseph has had two in 40 years. OK.
"How can the city move forward when we don't have stability and continuity and we keep changing city managers? This is what will continue to happen as long as we keep changing city managers," Joseph said. "Some people just have their own personal agendas."
Marsh's suit was filed by the law firm of Taglia, Fette, Dumke & White of St. Joseph.
The complaint alleges Marsh got a three-month employment evaluation but never got the one-year evaluation called for in his contract. Following his three-month evaluation, he got a raise. He alleges that the previously good working relationship he had with elected officials deteriorated quickly after he complained to the mayor and commissioners about the behavior of Commissioner Marshall. WE HOPE HE WINS THE LAWSUIT.

Marsh alleges Marshall has conducted fundraising events in the city's name but never turned any money over to the city.
Marsh's lawsuit also says Benton Harbor citizens told him about suspected unethical and illegal conduct by Marshall, including that he took "kickbacks" from contractors doing business with the city, that he failed to pay his own water and sewer bills and that he solicited gifts and loans from people and organizations doing business with the city.
At a City Commission meeting, Marshall said he raises money in the name of a nonprofit charity he established, not in the name of the city.
When The Herald-Palladium later asked Marshall for the name of his nonprofit charity, he said his lawyer had advised him not to tell the name.

Contacted Tuesday regarding Marsh's lawsuit, Marshall said, "If there was funds missing, I'd like for him to provide me with the amount collected and the amount missing. I'll see him in court." LOOK NO FARTHER THAN YOUR POCKET, MARSHALL.

Marsh's lawsuit alleges that after the city failed to act on his concerns about Marshall, he asked for an FBI investigation.

The suit claims that certain members of the City Commission schemed to remove Marsh as city manager "to prevent public scrutiny of their own conduct and to keep doing business as usual." TRUE.


Sunday, November 01, 2009

Harbor Shores News

We have some extremely important developments to tell you about. The first is that we are finally a 501 (c)(3) organization which means all donations are now tax deductable! Another development is that we have been assigned a hearing date for the Michigan Court of Appeals in Grand Rapids for Tuesday, November 3rd , of next week. We don’t anticipate that a ruling will be made on that day, and expect that a decision could take up to 6 months. That means that the wait is more than likely not over. We hope that you will please consider making a donation at this time. The fight to return Jean Klock Park’s land to the general public has been, and will continue to be, costly in every way.

On Wednesday, October 21st , representatives from the City of Benton Harbor and Harbor Shores went before the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board (MNRTF) to present an overdue report on the progress of the park improvements, the mitigated parcels and trail way system. The MNRTF Board was the first to approve the conversion and mitigation proposal of the park and was given a slide presentation that showed that the developers did not do what they had promised. It was shown that much more than 22.11 acres of land was developed, and that in essence, all that is left or accessible to the public is the strand of beach. You may view a side-by-side comparison on the new web page “A Strand of Beach.”

The MNRTF Board was not pleased with what has transpired and indicated that the situation had been in part mishandled by them. As a result, the current MNRTF Board and the DNR are requiring some additional review of the conversion and are requiring the developers to answer specific questions that have either went unanswered or have since arisen.

Recently we received a notification of a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public hearing regarding the paths and boardwalks on mitigated parcels B, C, and D for the conversion of JKP. The permit also calls for the excavation of 1,747 cubic yards of “unsuitable soils” to then be replaced with sand and limestone. The application does not mention any type of remediation for direct contact criteria of contaminated soils and areas; but every replacement parcel for the conversion area of JKP, except for parcel C, does require some form of remediation before they can be safe for public use. You can find a link to the public notice and permit application on the home page of the newly rebuilt website of the Friends of Jean Klock Park at:
The meeting will be held on Monday, November 9, 2009, at 7:00 p.m. at Michigan Works! 499 West Main Street, Benton Harbor, Michigan, 49022.

There has been no decision as yet of the separate Federal lawsuit hearing that took place on August 28th. We will notify you as soon as one has been reached. For more information you can go to:

We will be resuming monthly meetings beginning in November and will send a notice when we have scheduled a time and location. In the meantime please visit our newly restructured website at While there, we hope that you will make an online donation through the safe and secure PayPal account we have set up.

Thank you for your on-going support and as always we ask that you forward this update to friends and family who also care about our public heritage!

Carol Drake
Vice President
Friends of Jean Klock Park