Friday, March 28, 2014

Breaking News: Rev. Pinkney, FBI, and ACLU talking

New Buffalo is having a recall election on May 6, 2014. The Mayor of New Buffalo along with a Council member were recalled. However, the Berrien County sheriff and his deputies are not roaming the streets of New Buffalo intimidating voters.  In the last 2 weeks, they have knocked on over 200 doors in Benton Harbor, under the guise of an "investigation." They have not knocked on one door in New Buffalo.

All citizens have the civil right to recall or initiate a referendum by way of petition. To intimidate, harass, accuse, or use gestapo tactics to infringe on a citizens civil rights is a federal crime.

This practice was used in the 2011 mayoral election in Benton Harbor.  Emergency Manager Joseph Harris deployed police officers to voter precincts to intimidate residents. 

Now, the Berrien County Sheriff's department have created a police state surrounding the legal recall of mayor James Hightower. 

The Benton Harbor City Clerk verified 440 recall signatures as valid. The Berrien County Clerk verified 409 recall signatures as valid. The required amount to recall James Hightower was 392.

In spite of these results, the Berrien County Prosecutor is conducting a false investigation. 
Unfortunately, the media has turned a blind eye. There have been numerous Herald Palladium stories on the Benton Harbor recall, and none on the New Buffalo recall. There is a clear double standard that exists. Is this an issue of race. Benton Harbor is predominantly Black. 

These issues will be addressed in a class action lawsuit against James Hightower, Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey, Prosecutor Mike Sepic, and County Clerk Sharon Tyler.

More information will be forth coming. 

Rev. Edward Pinkney

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cops are kicking in doors of Benton Harbor voters

Here's what people who don't live in Benton Harbor will not believe is happening, but it is:  the sheriff and his deputies are kicking in doors, and surrounding the homes of people who signed a petition to recall Mayor Hightower, Whirlpool stooge.  This is violent voter suppression and intimidation.

Berrien County sheriff's dept. is up to their old tricks.  Voter suppression is being carried out so it will be harder for the elderly and poor black residents to vote and sign recall petitions.  These efforts are hardly a secret in this city.  

Mayor Hightower is corrupt.  This is the same mayor who filed a false campaign report, a criminal action, after he received $4000.00 from Whirlpool vice president Jeff Noel.  Hightower, in a desperation move, is challenging a recall election which would remove him from office.  The petitions for recall were filled with more than enough valid signatures than the required number. 

Hightower has filed a false report with the Berrien County sheriff and with prosecutor Michael Sepic in an effort to save himself.  He forced friends, who signed a recall petition, to claim they didn't know they were signing a recall.  But the petitions clearly stated the campaign was for a recall of Mayor Hightower.

The egregious violations of civil rights that kept so many from voting are still alive in different forms.  We no longer have poll taxes, nor do we force black people to recite the Declaration of Independence before being given a ballot.  But those who dare to register to vote and sign recall petitions can easily end up in the lake or in the Berrien County jail. These horrors are happening today in Berrien County.

The right to vote and to sign a petition is protected for all citizens.  Harassing and intimidating voters who sign recall petitions is illegal.  Why is it permitted in Benton Harbor?

The politicians and corporations behind this must be stopped.  Voter suppression is an old tactic which has gotten worse today in Benton Harbor.  Whirlpool is protecting their interests.

Please call US Attorney Patrick Miles Jr., 616-456-2404, and ask for a complete
investigation of Sheriff Bailey and Prosecutor Mike Sepic as soon as possible.

Rev. Edward Pinkney

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Low hopes for democracy in Benton Harbor

On Monday Governor Rick Snyder declared on that Benton Harbor's financial problems are over.

Benton Harbor residents are much worse off today than five years ago.  We have higher taxes for home owners, no services in the community, water bills four times higher than five years ago, the streets are in shambles, and no relief in sight.  We are still over five million dollars in debt - with the 2.3 million dollar loan received from the state on Jan. 1, 2014.

Hopes are very low in Benton Harbor when we judge what happened in Pontiac, Mich.  Democracy could be years or decades away.

State officials claimed they resolved the debt issues in Benton Harbor.  NOT SO.

We are still in handcuffs in Benton Harbor, and have no idea when it's going to end.  We see no end in sight for a massive overreach of power by Gov. Snyder in our city.

Benton Harbor must answer to the arm of the state power.  A Transition Advisory Board that consists of five members will meet monthly:  two Whirlpool employees, the Berrien County treasurer, and the Michigan Treasury Dept. manager.  NOT ONE OF THESE PEOPLE WILL ADVOCATE FOR OUR CITY WITH THE HIGHEST POVERTY RATE IN MICHIGAN.

When will the people take a stand against the lies and propaganda?   
Rev Edward Pinkney


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.