The Rev. Edward Pinkney, political prisoner, was transferred on Sept.
7 from the Marquette Branch Prison in the far north of Michigan’s Upper
Peninsula. Some 11 months after arriving at that prison and suffering
months of threats and abuse from guards, he was sent to West Shoreline
Correctional Facility outside of Muskegon. His new location is only 90
miles from the home of his spouse, Dorothy Pinkney. The distance to
Marquette, in comparison, was 500 miles.
Rev. Pinkney has now
served 22 months of his 30-month minimum sentence. On Dec. 15, 2014, he
was given a 2 ½ to 10 year sentence for supposedly altering dates on a
recall petition against then Mayor James Hightower of Benton Harbor,
Mich. Rev. Pinkney was convicted with no evidence, simply for being the
leader of the recall effort and a well-known activist in his home town.
His case has drawn the support of the American Civil Liberties Union and
the National Lawyers Guild, as well as many groups and individuals
Attorney Tim Holloway filed an “Application for
Leave to Appeal” with the Michigan Supreme Court on Rev. Pinkney’s
behalf on Sept. 3. This reporter visited Rev. Pinkney at his new
location on Sept. 30 and asked him about his long sought after transfer.
He acknowledged the efforts of his supporters, who worked tirelessly to
draw attention to the mistreatment, harassment and abuse he faced every
day in Marquette Prison.
This campaign included picketing the
Michigan Department of Corrections in Lansing, protesting across the
state, including outside Marquette’s prison gate, contacting state
legislators to intervene for Rev. Pinkney’s safety and telephone
barrages to Gov. Snyder and Heidi Washington, MDOC director. ‘They wanted to get rid of me’
to Rev. Pinkney, “What I think was the final straw was when state Rep.
Dave Pagel showed up at Marquette Prison during the last week of August.
He is the chairperson of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the
Department of Corrections. And the first thing he did was to ask to see
me! This kind of blew the minds of the prison officials.
with Pagel in the law library for quite a while,” explained Rev.
Pinkney. “After he left, my prison counselor wanted to know how I had so
much ‘juice.’ I asked her if she wanted me to get her a raise or,
maybe, a promotion.”
Less than two weeks later, Rev. Pinkney was
told to pack his things because he was leaving the next morning. “They
wanted to get rid of me and all the scrutiny that comes with housing a
political prisoner,” he stressed.
Even with a possible appeal to
the Michigan Supreme Court, which will take many months, Rev. Pinkney is
looking for his earliest release to occur in June 2017. He is enjoying
many more visitors already — and his supporters are not letting up on
Detroit activists from the Michigan Emergency
Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI.org), the Moratorium Now!
Coalition Against Foreclosures, and the Detroit Active and Retired
Employees Association joined together on Sept. 23 to carry out an
all-day fish fry fundraiser for Rev. Pinkney’s defense. It raised
hundreds of dollars.
Plans are also in place to distribute
leaflets about Rev. Pinkney at a regional conference of Amnesty
International in Dearborn, Mich., on Oct. 8.
Send birthday greetings
Pinkney will celebrate another birthday behind bars. Oct. 27 is his
68th birthday. A campaign is underway to have hundreds of people send
hundreds of cards and letters to him to express support — and to let the
West Shoreline prison administration know they are being watched by
Rev. Pinkney’s supporters around the country, who are paying attention
to how he is being treated.
Send cards and letters to The Rev.
Edward Pinkney #294671, West Shoreline Correctional Facility, 2500 S.
Sheridan Drive, Muskegon Heights, MI 49444.