Tuesday, November 24, 2015

BREAKING: Rev. Pinkney in Solitary Confinement

As of Saturday, Rev. Edward Pinkney has been "segregated" (i.e. placed in solitary confinement and isolated from other prisoners and all visitors). The reason given was so trivial, it's obviously an excuse for retribution against Rev. Pinkney for exercising his First Amendment rights. We do not yet know how long the solitary confinement will last. He had already been in 24/7 "lockdown" for bogus charges concerning telephone use and the lockdown was supposed to end Nov. 25th. Clearly, the prison is seeking to isolate him from the public and from his many supporters by any pretense. As Rev. Pinkney wrote us previously, Marquette Branch Prison has had 4 killings and 17 assaults in the past four months, yet they find it necessary to send Rev. Pinkney, who poses no physical threat to anyone, to solitary confinement.

Read on below for David Sole's account of the developments in Marquette over the weekend.

Please continue to call MDOC and the Governor's office, and continue to send cards, letters, and books to Rev. Pinkney. Distribute the holiday campaign leaflet widely. And join BANCO in Berrien County tomorrow, Tuesday, 11/24, 11am to protest this outrageous abuse and miscarriage of justice!

Local supporters protesting Rev. Edward Pinkney's solitary confinement
at Marquette Branch Prison, Nov. 22, 2015.

Short report on Nov. 20-22 visit to Marquette, by David Sole

I flew into Sawyer airport at 3:10 pm on Friday. A supporter of Rev. Pinkney picked me up and we drove to the county courthouse where Gov. Snyder maintains an office. At 4:30 pm we held a press conference outside the building. ABC TV 10 and NBC TV 6 attended. We had three Marquette activists plus myself. We opened a “Free Rev. Pinkney” banner and gave interviews. ABC ran the story at the 10 pm news and has it posted on their website. All Marquette media received a press release earlier in the week and a phone call the day before.

I went to prison that evening and had a 3 hour visit with Rev. Pinkney. He was in good spirits. Except for visits and 15 minutes for meals he was restricted to his cell – part of punishment that also includes loss of phone access. His blood pressure is up (he didn’t suffer from this before his transfer to Marquette) and they ordered his pressure checked once a week (clearly inadequate). The food in Marquette is worse, if possible, than at Lakeland prison.

Rev. Pinkney received the many birthday cards and has been getting letters and some books. The prison guard handed me a Workers World newspaper and a book that they had refused to allow in to him. He greatly appreciates all correspondence, even when he can’t answer.

Rev. Pinkney is challenging the bogus “tickets” written against him for misusing the telephone. He was supposed to get out of the lockdown on Wednesday, Nov. 25.

During the visit, Rev. Pinkney gave me blank paper and a pen to take notes. I was given paper and pencil at Lakeland by the guard and allowed to take and carry out notes. The guard at Marquette was right in view while I took two pages of notes and said nothing.

On the way out a guard demanded I empty my pockets. Of course, they were empty and checked when I went in, so I handed over the notes I had just taken. These consisted mainly of copying the “ticket” charges against Rev. Pinkney, ideas of places for people to contact, and the need for more protests. The guard confiscated these, saying that one could not take anything out from the visiting area.

On Saturday I went with one supporter to NMU campus and left leaflets about Rev. Pinkney around the library. We went to the public library where an art fair was happening and stood outside handing leaflets to about 50 people.

At 5 pm we drove to the prison for another visit. Before I could get out of the car, Officer Johnson came out to the parking lot and said that “Pinkney is in segregation and can see no visitors.” I asked why and he said “for smuggling information out to his wife.” I stated that I wrote the notes and I attempted to carry them out, not Rev. Pinkney. He refused to discuss this and started shouting at me to get off prison property. 

We left and called the TV stations to announce that we would be protesting Sunday morning at the prison gate. We didn’t expect the media to attend on short notice, Sunday morning, as they have very small staffs. Myself and two supporters gathered at the gate to Marquette prison at 9:30 am Sunday morning. We opened the Free Pinkney banner, took some photos, and held the banner for the prison cameras and the traffic on Rte. 41 to see (photo above). No media attended.

We later attended a luncheon that followed services at the St. Paul Episcopal church where two Pinkney supporters attend and had arranged for me to speak. About 25 congregants listened to a presentation and got leaflets. We urged them to send a holiday card to Rev. Pinkney, call the governor to express concern, and make a holiday donation (see holiday campaign leaflet).

The Dr. Esiquio Uballe and his wife Susan Uballe who invited us to the church will be working to see if their priest or the bishop can visit Rev. Pinkney despite the segregation blockade. Esiquio and Susan will also bring up the issue of Rev. Pinkney to a peace and justice council in which they participate to work on generating more local support.