November 11th, I set out on my journey to go to Marquette Branch Prison to see Reverend Edward Pinkney. Hours passed, we arrived in Benton Harbor, Michigan, and knocked on Mrs. Dorothy Pinkney’s door. I was so happy to see her, we embraced. I looked at the many pictures on the wall of Reverend Pinkney with dignitaries and Danny Glover, the actor, posted in the vestibule. The next morning we left early, the three Women Justice Warriors, brave enough to face the atrocities of inequality in the Political and Judicial System. When we arrived on Thursday, November 12, in the prison parking lot we saw ahead of us an old brick building looking like something from a horror movie. Guards were walking around entering and exiting the building. I was relieved that when I handed my driver’s license to the guard at the front desk and he checked the computer, my name was on the visitor list, thank God.
Mrs. Pinkney and I had to go in a room with the female guard. Before entering the locked steel gates, the guard instructed us one at a time to remove our shoes, lifting each foot so that she could see the bottom of it. I then faced the wall with my arms extended out for the female guard to do a pat down. Mrs. Pinkney and I were cleared to go past the front desk where we signed our names on the sign in sheet. We stood by the steel gate; I heard a loud clank sound, then the gate opened. We entered, and proceeded to go through the metal detector. Then there was another glass partition with a guard to our right to get our hand mark, and I had to place my hand face down for the ultraviolet light to shine on my hand.
After that, there was another metal gate, the loud clanking sound again, the gate opened. We went down a few stairs to a big open space, and that’s where the visiting room was, in the vestibule. Vending machines, with pop and other junk food, no hot foods, no microwave. The female guard grabbed three chairs, one was a different color than ours, the white chair was for the inmate. Mrs. Pinkney said the guard stated that the seat that her husband was going to sit at had to face the guard. On each side of the hallway where we were sitting were several glass partitions with phones for prisoners to speak to visitors who could not be in physical contact with the prisoner. Behind me there was a large glass partition room for the prison guards. Many walked through the room throughout the three-hour visit. Those guards were coming out of the front gate, side gate, and going in the rear room.
Reverend Pinkney came through the metal bars with a male guard, and entered the visiting room. He greeted his wife with open arms. The female guard told Mrs. Pinkney earlier that when Rev. Pinkney came they were allowed only one hug and one kiss when he enters in the room, and when visiting hours are over, only one hug and one kiss, no other touching allowed.
Rev. Pinkney was very surprised to see his wife because no one told him who had come to visit him. Unfortunately we were not able to tell him in advance because his phone privileges were cut off. He had a big smile to see his wife standing in front of him. He kept saying her name over and over again: Dorothy. It was a touching moment to witness.
Rev. Pinkney mentioned that he heard even in prison that the MDOC demonstration went very well. I noticed as we sat back in our seats, the female guard had all eyes on us. By the way, there were white visitors sitting not too far from us, but they were not getting the gazing that the female guard gave us. We were being watched the entire time of our visit. I suspect the guard was told to keep her eyes on us at all times. Mrs. Pinkney and I stared back at her, I smiled, the guard had a smirk on her face. Reverend Pinkney and Mrs. Pinkney talked at length. I dared not interrupt because Rev. Pinkney would not like that, I waited patiently for my turn to speak.
The prison conditions are horrible for Rev. Pinkney. The name calling continues, lights are still being shined on him through the night causing sleep deprivation, no change of clothing, 24/7 locked down in his cell. The only time he can come out is when he has a visitor. One person was killed last week by a prison guard. Yes, Marquette is a very dangerous place to be for Rev. Pinkney.
Reverend Pinkney gave me some instructions, and the overall campaign is to Get the Word Out about the mistreatment of him at Marquette Prison. These are some of the things we discussed on the two-day visit at Marquette prison with Reverend Edward Pinkney, Mrs. Dorothy Pinkney, and Marcina Cole:
- Contact Michigan Election Commissioner
- Contact Rep. Fred Durhal, Jr. 1-517-373-0844, Senator Bert Johnson,-1-517-373-7748, and other State representatives and senators about Rev. Pinkney’s case.
- Need more people to get involved spreading the word of the mistreatment of Rev. Pinkney in Marquette Prison by the prison guards and Warden Robert Napel.
- Mark Fancher, staff attorney with the ACLU, sent a letter to MDOC and Marquette Branch Prison about the mistreatment of Rev. Edward Pinkney at the prison facility.
- A lot of tax dollars are spent to run the prisons. It costs the state of Michigan 2 billion dollars annually. It would be feasible to shut down some prisons, particularly Marquette prison, with its mold in the air vents and the walls, affecting inmates' health. The money would be better spent on education than spending on housing prisoners for 20, 30, 40+ years in a penal institution.
I was very uncomfortable at Marquette Branch Prison, and I felt an ominous presence and sense that something is not right at this prison. Yes, we must try very hard to get Reverend Pinkney out of this Concentration Camp called a prison that’s filled with killers. With the help of a legal team, supporters across this country and abroad, his wife and other members of his family, we will help set free Reverend Edward Pinkney now!