By Rev. Edward Pinkney
Let the truth be told. As it is known, I was convicted by an all-white jury that ignored the law and evidence in reaching a capricious verdict, by a jury that based its verdict on unrevealed, deeply held prejudices. The verdict against me was not based on a desire to achieve a fair or moral outcome.
This all-white jury had never been under the Emergency Manager Law. Not one of the members of the all-white jury lived in Benton Harbor, a city with a 96% Black population or in Benton Harbor Township, which is 70% Black. Not one single juror knew the power of the Emergency Manager.
In 2010, Gov. Jennifer Granholm appointed an Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) under Public Act 72 to assume control over Benton Harbor’s finances. This EFM was one of a number appointed across Michigan in the 2000s. The EFM had limited power initially. However, in 2011, the Michigan legislature passed Public Act 4 which gave the EFM much broader powers to overrule all elected officials and take dictatorial control of any cities and school districts the State deemed in need of management.
Benton Harbor was one of the first cities to be assigned an EFM when the people of Michigan overturned Public Act 4 by referendum in 2012. But, the legislature thumbed its nose at the people of the State Michigan and promptly passed a new, even more dictatorial, version of the law, Public Act 436, which is not subject to referendum.
The Emergency Manager Law allows EFMs to take over cities and school districts, to replace local officials, to sell public assets, to privatize public services, to dismantle collective bargaining agreements, and much more! EFMs are dictators in the service of corporations that have purchased our public officials.
Between 2010 and early 2014, Benton Harbor had two separate EFMs, and they both stripped the elected city officials of their power, cut city spending and continued giving away public land to the greedy, blood-sucking Whirlpool Corporation, which has its corporate headquarters in Benton Harbor.
The case of Rev. Edward Pinkney is but the latest saga in a ruthless pursuit of the naked corporate rule that is gripping the whole country. We are witnessing the establishment at work in its promotion of fascism.
The all-white jury has never been under the Emergency Manager Law, and members of the jury never knew of the dictatorship that exists in Benton Harbor. The jury never learned about the dismantling of democracy in the city of Benton Harbor. The attack on democracy in Benton Harbor shows that the corporate power structure is determined to crush anyone who stands in its way.
Benton Harbor and the State of Michigan, with their growing poverty and the assets of a city turned over to the banks and corporations, while establishing martial law, are emerging as the center of the fascist assault sweeping the nation.
The all-white jury has exposed the establishment for what it is, for who they are. What we, as Americans, are facing is bigger than that all-white jury. It is the establishment using the all-white jury as a tool to complete the establishment’s mission. We must come together and confront this fascism being promoted, even forced, upon our nation and its citizens.