Friday, March 07, 2014

Voter Suppression in Benton Harbor

Press Release
Rev Edward Pinkney

BANCO collected over 10,000 signatures in a three month period to recall Benton Harbor School Board President Martha Momany, Trustee Willie Lark, and Trustee Lue Buchana.

Momany is being recalled for not adhering to the Open Meetings Act.  She failed to call for a vote to end the school board meeting.  Lark and Buchana failed to exercise their duty to appoint a seventh member to the school board by August 31, 2013.

None of these officials have demonstrated support for the school children they were elected to serve.  They have hidden agendas.

School Board Trustee Joseph Taylor spoke at a BANCO meeting and made a formal request to not recall Momany, Lark, and Buchana.  Taylor stated he could work with them.

Over 400 BANCO members voted to give Joseph Taylor a chance and our support.
We voted to not recall the school board members only because of Taylor.

We collected more than 10,000 signatures for the recall.  All of the public bodies in our town are in league to repress residents in every way possible with Whirlpool giving orders.  Hence,  the sheriff was very busy intimidating as many petition signers as possible.  He went to houses of signers and forced them to state they didn't know it was for a recall, or even that they didn't sign a petition.  

The recall of Mayor Hightower is another example of voter suppression.  Hightower is also a minister.  I know a woman in his congregation who signed the Hightower recall, and I warned her that he along with the sheriff would attempt to intimidate her.  She wanted me to remove her name and I did so out of respect for her wish.

Later, Hightower intimidated this woman and another person into writing letters stating they didn't sign the petition.  Hightower wanted them notarized, and so the woman carried out his order.

This voter suppression effort is a serious civil rights violation.  I have asked the FBI to investigate the effort as carried out by Hightower, the Berrien County sheriff, the county clerk's office, and the county prosecutor's office.  BANCO believes that Hightower is desperate to have his recall thrown out.


Voter suppression is a strategy to influence the outcome of an election by discouraging or
preventing people from exercising the right to vote or signing a recall petition.

It took a decade of struggle by the civil rights movement as part of an upsurge of social struggle that included the working class battle of the 1930's and 40's.  As a result, industrial unions were established and the Johnson administration along with congress enacted land mark legislation.


BANCO will recall the recall of the school board members. We will be watching the school board very closely.

Mass Demonstration, May 24, City Hall, 200 Wall St., 11am.