Rev. Edward Pinkney speaking at a Detroit protest about the cut off of water to thousands of families. Photo/daymonjhartley.com
Statement from prison:
“This is a fight for us all,” says Rev. Pinkney
The People’s Tribune interviewed Rev. Edward Pinkney who is imprisoned in Marquette, Michigan. Pinkney is a leader of the people who was unjustly convicted of vote fraud charges in Benton Harbor, MI and sentenced to up to ten years in prison. He speaks about what this fight is all about.
“My case represents a direct attack on democracy. This is an issue around the world, and especially here in the U.S. It shows what the corporate power structure will do. They are determined to crush anyone who stands in their way. They need to control the working class. It’s about the haves against the have nots, the rich against the poor. It’s not about Rev. Pinkney or Benton Harbor. It’s an issue for everyone. They no longer need workers like they used to. It doesn’t matter if you are Black, white, Mexican, Puerto Rican, etc. If you’re not part of what they’re trying to do, you’re not useful to them.
“This struggle is really because of the economy. We must find a solution. We can no longer allow a society that cannot feed, clothe and house people. That society must be overturned. We need to make sure everybody is fed, clothed, and housed in America. They are cutting food stamps. They are cutting subsidies for housing. Until the people take a stand, they are going to continue doing the same thing. What’s next after food stamps?
“We have to show them we are not willing to lay down and let them walk all over us. This is why I don’t mind being in the prison system. I don’t mind even this horrible food. I don’t mind that I came up here in a cold bus, shackled; it took two days. I don’t mind because I know we are going to win in the end. I know this because the poorest workers stood up in my trial. They told the truth and were not intimidated by the sheriff and prosecutor. It was so profound. It gives me hope. All this is not for nothing. All this is just the beginning of something bigger than Rev. Pinkney.
“We’re talking about a movement. We’re getting world recognition. We’re doing all the right things. We must make this struggle a victory for all who are victims of this economic crisis in every city, state and country. We must continue to fight this battle until we win, and we will win. That is why we are fighting today.”
The People’s Tribune interviewed people from Benton Harbor, MI about the continued struggle for justice.
“They dismissed the latest mayoral recall because the mayor can’t be recalled in his last term. The recall effort was because the city is operating illegally without a civil service board. If no action is taken, I will ask the prosecutor to investigate. Even though recall petitions can’t be filed against the mayor, he is not free of any prosecution investigation.” — Denny Brown
“County Commissioner Bob Wooley could get 20 years for embezzlement from the county. They didn’t want us BANCO members to demonstrate so they kept his court hearing private. They don’t even put him in the paper like they did Rev. Pinkney. They don’t deal fairly. They should push it to the max. If not, then release Rev. Pinkney.— Emma Kinnard
“The incarceration of Rev. Pinkney, found guilty with no evidence, brings awareness of the modern day Jim Crow in Berrien County: the black robes of injustice, uniforms of deception, and an all white jury representing something other than the truth. The revolution for justice has increased world-wide.” — Dorothy Pinkney
Babies in America go hungry while 442 billionaires wallow in wealth. A powerful movement for food, housing, water and other necessities is arising. Everywhere, the people are coming into conflict with a murderous police state that stands in the way of the movement achieving its demands.
Michigan is an example. Here, the once stable working class cities are shattered by automation and globalization. As the people struggle for their needs, the police, the watchdogs of the private property of the billionaires—who are the owners of the corporations that have taken over the government and our nation—rear their head.
In Detroit, running water for thousands of families too poor to pay the skyrocketing price is shut off. Water, this basic human need, is step by step being privatized so the corporations can profit. When the community protested at the gate of the private company the city hired (to the tune of over $5 million) to turn off the water, demonstrators were roughed up and jailed.
In Benton Harbor, where 42.5% of the population live in poverty, an uncompromising leader of the people, Reverend Edward Pinkney was imprisoned for up to ten years on phony charges. His crime was standing up for the poorest workers against Whirlpool, the giant corporation that rules the area.
Michigan also shows how the rulers utilize the “race” card to try to stop the people from coming together in a common struggle. Their tactic is to attack Black-majority cities first, painting them as incompetent to run their own affairs. Then they impose dictatorial emergency managers on them. These unelected officials, operating in the service of the bankers and corporate owners, usher in the attacks on necessities such as water and pave the way for privatization of all of a city’s public assets.
The largely Black cities are the starting point for the dismantling of democracy, but the real target is the whole working class and the whole of society. Already the emergency manager system has reached 17 municipalities and school districts in Michigan. Now, this model is appearing in other states, too.
Today, the economy is destroying the lives of so many workers it is possible to forge a new kind of unity. Working class unity in the fight for our necessities and for a new cooperative society where everyone’s needs are met, and where the police state is a thing of the past, is the only force that can save humanity.
We must take the battles for our lives out to all of the towns and cities where the new poverty makes our practical economic class interests identical, regardless of color. This is part of the struggle for the power necessary to build a new society run by and for the people.
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Supporters in the courtroom gather around Mrs. Pinkney after the sentencing of Rev. Pinkney for 2 1/2 to 10 years for phony vote fraud charges.
PHOTO/DONATED TO PEOPLESTRIBUNE.ORG
Rev. Edward Pinkney’s statement to the Judge
Editor’s note: The following are excerpts from a statement that Rev. Pinkney made in the courtroom to the judge right before he was sentenced.
“I’ve committed no crime. In fact, if I was anyone else, I would not be here. I can’t say if anyone changed the dates on the petitions. The prosecutor knows I haven’t committed any crime. I minister to people in this courtroom. I’ve been fighting to bring about a change in our community. Nowhere in the history of mankind can a person be convicted of a crime with no evidence. The jury was motivated by something other than the truth. I am very disappointed in the system itself. The jury took an oath that justice would be served. They failed the people of Benton Harbor and Berrien County. I know there was a jurist who lied to be on the jury. Still, I’m standing here. I could not believe the jury would find me guilty if they followed the instructions. We have to take a stand against some of the things that have happened in Benton Harbor. I can’t say if someone changed the dates but the prosecutor knows I didn’t do it. My wife and children are hurt. I will continue to fight. Over 90% of the people of Benton Harbor stand with me and understand there’s no evidence. I’m hurt. I can’t see how something like this can happen.” — Rev. Edward Pinkney
Imprisoning our leaders will not stop the movement
From the Editors of the People’s Tribune
On December 15, Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, Mich. was sentenced to 2 1/2 to 10 years in prison on a trumped-up charge of changing dates on petitions to recall Benton Harbor’s mayor. There was no evidence to prove he had done anything wrong. Everyone familiar with Rev. Pinkney and the struggle in Benton Harbor knows this was a political show trial, intended to remove a leader in the fight against the corporations and intimidate the people. But the people will not be intimidated.
This is the second time in seven years that Pinkney has been charged with so-called “election fraud,” when his real crime has been to try and use the electoral process to represent the true interests of the people. At the sentencing, Judge Sterling Schrock had the nerve to say Pinkney had “disenfranchised” people by undermining their faith in the electoral process. Wasn’t it really the State of Michigan, which the judge represents, that has disenfranchised people by imposing unelected emergency managers on a number of cities, including Benton Harbor? Hasn’t the people’s faith in government actually been undermined by the government’s refusal to provide justice in the numerous police killings, and by the government’s denying even food, water and housing to those who need it?
The government at every level, from the president down to the street cop, is in the pocket of the corporations and their billionaire owners. We are living under a corporate dictatorship that is steadily moving toward open fascism. This is so because the billionaire-controlled economic system we have today is providing for fewer and fewer people. The computer and the robot offer the corporations more production with less labor, and so the jobs have been wiped out in Michigan and throughout the country. The result is growing permanent unemployment for many and poverty-wage jobs for those still working. Today, those demanding jobs and living wages are a threat to the system because they are demanding what the system can no longer provide. So the corporations make war on us. Democracy is wiped out to hobble our ability to resist, racism is used to keep us from uniting around our common class interests, and we are threatened with police terror and prison cells.
What Whirlpool Corp. and their servants in Berrien County have done to Pinkney is a metaphor for what the corporations are doing to the whole country. The entire working class is under attack. This case makes clear, once again, that the people will never get justice from a government that is in the hands of the corporations.
Imagine the society we could have if the people controlled the government and owned the means of producing the wealth, instead of the corporations and billionaires. We could end poverty. We could guarantee democracy, justice and fairness. As we defend our leaders and confront every act of injustice, we, the people, should think about how we can build the consciousness and organization to wage the struggle for a new society. Uniting around the demand that the government guarantee the basic necessities of life for all is key. Such fighting unity will make us unstoppable.
The People’s Tribune has been in this struggle since the beginning in 2005 and will continue to publicize it until justice is served.We encourage reproduction of this article so long as you credit the source. Copyright@2015 People’s Tribune. Visit http://www.peoplestribune.org
Editor’s Note: Cops banged on people’s doors, intimidating the community, but people are still fighting. Here are voices of some Benton Harbor leaders.
“They wrongfully convicted a man who did no crime. This is like a set up. They don’t ship people off that fast to prison. They took him immediately. We have a lot of people, a lot of groups, and we need to come together. – Marquette Coates, Benton Harbor
This is Berrien County, home of the KKK. They are hanging us like they did in the old days, but they do it in the courts now. What they did to Rev. Pinkney was a shame. They have people in high places found guilty of theft who get no time. Even the Sheriff has violated laws and has been in court for weeks. He still gets paid and still runs this county. We need to get out here, stick together and fight. — Emma Kinnard, Benton Harbor
“They say you have a right to the first amendment and a right to be a activist. But you have a brief in your hand that shows there was a plant on the jury. You have evidence that this juror knew law enforcement and the county clerk, that she is in with them. They chose not to discuss this. They are just buying time to decide how to handle this. — Dorothy Pinkney, Benton Harbor
“The County Commissioners have been stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they’re not going to jail. Pinkney tries to speak the truth and they railroad him!” — Pati Heinz, Benton Harbor
“The sentencing, the ruling by the jury reflects that this was a kangaroo court.” — Marcus Muhammad, Benton Harbor City Commissioner (speaking to WINDU.com)
Free Pinkney! There will be an appeal. For information on future efforts, go to peoplestribune.org. The People’s Tribune has been in this struggle since the beginning in 2005 and will continue to publicize it until justice is served.We encourage reproduction of this article so long as you credit the source. Copyright@2015 People’s Tribune. Visit http://www.peoplestribune.org