Friday, February 24, 2017

Injurious Statutes, Court Rulings, and Orders That Must Be Set Aside, Repealed, or Amended

Thesee could be the 28 most important laws from the last century or so that need doing away with, etc.  The list still needs some work.  

(Ways To Cheapen Human Life - original title; might not keep it.)

Injurious Statutes, Court Rulings, and Orders That Must Be Set Aside, Repealed, or Amended

1. The Senate Filibuster Rule (Rule XXII) “gives a minority of 41 Senators . ... . the power to prevent the Senate from debating or voting on a bill or resolution, or a Presidential appointment.  A “filibuster” is the use of unlimited debate not to inform or persuade, but to obstruct the proceedings of a legislative body ”. Emmet J. Bondurant in his article THE SENATE FILIBUSTER RULE clearly shows that the filibuster is unconstitutional. Also, the filibuster rule has been used to commit fraud on numerous occasions.

2. The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (Pub. L. 107-40, 115 Stat. 224, enacted September 18, 2001), The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq(AUMF) Resolution of 2002 and Legislation appropriating fund for the War on Terror are unconstitutional, null and void as outlined in Proof of the Unconstitutionality and Illegality of U.S. Wars/Occupations and Use of Force in the Mideast

3. The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 which established the Federal Reserve System (The Fed) is clearly unconstitutional. Congress does not have the Constitutional authority to delegate its power to coin money or to write rules and regulations to the Federal Reserve which is a private corporation owned by bankers.
The Federal Reserve, has been an abject failure at most of its duties which according to official
Federal Reserve documentation, are to conduct the nation's monetary policy, supervise and
regulate banking institutions, maintain the stability of the financial system and provide financial
services to depository institutions, the U.S. government, and foreign official institutions”.
On September 23, 2009, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA)
released a report card demonstrating the poor record of the Federal Reserve in using the tools
provided by Congress to protect consumers from abusive financial industry practices. Chairman
Frank cited several examples of the Federal Reserve’s unsatisfactory performance and stated:
The Federal Reserve's inattention and inaction on consumer protection is a key reason why
Democrats are working to create the Consumer Financial Product Agency in the coming weeks
and months. As the above report card shows, consumer protection has long been overlooked
by federal regulators, and their motivation to protect consumers has been driven more by
congressional pressure rather than a sense of duty to the protect the American public.
The Federal Reserve has also failed to insure that there is maximum employment, stable
prices, and moderate interest rates which the Federal Reserve Act requires.
Their main job, appears to protect, not regulate large banks. The Feds actions have increased
the frequency and severity of boom-bust economic cycles such as the Great Depression of the
1930s, the late-2000s recession, and the current rate recession.

4. Corporate Personhood - Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company (118
U.S. 394) (1886), The legal theory that corporations are entitled to protection under the
Fourteenth Amendment is based on a clerical error and is null and void. A passing remark by
the chief justice was erroneously summarized in the headnote by the court recorder. This
clerical error set the stage for the future worldwide damage of our environmental,
governmental, and cultural commons and must be corrected.

5. The Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United V. Federal Election Commission on
January 21, 2010, which wrongfully and unlawfully, attempts to give corporations unlimited
influence over our elections, fails to distinguish between domestic and foreign owned
corporations and knowingly leave America vulnerable to the latter, is null and void.
Corporations are not people, and nothing in the Constitution supports any such interpretation.

6. The Monetary Reform Act (also cited as Depository Institutions Deregulation and
Monetary Control Act) (P. L. No. 96-221; 94 Stat. 132) (1980) Highlights: Allows banks to
merge, and institutions to charge any interest rate they choose. Forces all banks to abide by
Federal Reserve rules, and raised deposit insurance of banks and credit unions from $40,000
to $100,000

7. Truth in Lending Act “Reform” (Sept. 30, 1995) Eased regulations on creditors. This bill
was powered through by Rep. Bill McCollum (R-FL), a key recipient of finance, insurance, and
real estate (FIRE) donations ($136,000 in 1993-94).”

8. Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (1999) A bank deregulation bill that repealed much of the
Glass-Steagall Act by allowing commercial and retail banks to engage in investment activities,

9.  The Glass-Steagall Act (48 Stat. 162) (1933) Created the regulatory framework for banking; established the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and other speculative trading and mergers opening up competition among banks, securities companies and insurance companies. It passed the Senate 90-8 and was signed by President Clinton. It led to a wave of mega-mergers “too big to fail.’ The driving force was Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX) who had received $4.6 million from the FIRE sector over the previous decade. This act is credited as the major contributor to the 2008 financial collapse.

10. Commodity Futures Modernization Act (Dec. 14, 2000). Sen. Gramm attached a 262 page
amendment that deregulated derivatives and credit default swaps trading to an omnibus
appropriations bill just prior to the Christmas holiday in December of 2000. Gramm's
amendment was supported by then Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan and then Treasury
Secretary Larry Summers. The amendment was never debated by the House or Senate and
by-passed the substantive policy committees in both the House and the Senate so that there
were neither hearings nor opportunities for recorded committee votes. This law unleashed the
derivatives market, paved the way for banks to become more aggressive about investing in
mortgages, and opened the door to an explosion in new, unregulated securities. The
amendment also contained a provision lobbied for by Enron, a generous contributor to Gramm
that exempted energy trading from regulatory oversight, allowing Enron to run rampant, wreck
the California electricity market, and cost consumers billions before it collapsed.

11. American Home Ownership and Economic Opportunity Act (Dec. 27, 2000). This act
makes it harder for consumers to get out of lender-required insurance.

12. Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (April 20, 2005) The act
makes it harder for consumers (but not businesses) to discharge debts. The strict means test
that would force more debtors to file under Chapter 13 (under which a percentage of debts
must be paid over a period of 3-5 years) as opposed to Chapter 7 (under which debts are paid
only out of existing assets), the additional penalties and responsibilities the bill placed on
debtors, and the bill's many provisions favorable to credit card companies.

13. Suspension of the uptick rule that required that short sale transactions be entered at
prices that are higher than the price of the previous trade. This rule prevents short sellers from
adding to the downward momentum when the price of an asset is already experiencing sharp

14. De-regulation that allowed reduced margin and position limits for speculators.

15. Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (Public Law 79-404) (1946) This is one of the most
important pieces of United States administrative law. It enabled bureaucrats, instead of
legislators, to write law.

16. The National Security Act (P. L. No. 235, 80 Cong., 61 Stat. 496, 50 U.S.C. ch.15) (1947).
This was the granddaddy of all the others. (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [FISA], The
Patriot Act, Anti-Terrorism Act, etc.) It was the start of the national security state we are now
under, and the beginnings of a fascist state.

17. Taft-Hartley Act, The Labor-Management Relations Act (80 P.L. 101; 61 Stat. 136)
(1947) Federal law which monitors activities and power of labor unions. Labor leaders have
called it the "Slave-Labor" bill. It tilts labor-management balance.

18. Cap and Trade (Emissions Trading) (1970) A market-based carbon-trading scheme which
banking reforms. It placed legal restrictions on speculation and forbid combining
banking and financial service firms. The 1999 repeal of this act is credited as the major
contributor to the 2008 financial collapse. is an expression of the inability and unwillingness of legislators to address environmental problems which arise from our mode of energy use (in large part carbon emissions). Although Caps are needed. Trading these Caps does nothing for the environment, or people and enriches Wall Street and hurts the economy.

19. War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1541-1548) (1973) The Constitution is explicit in
allowing only Congress the ability to declare war. This resolution opened the door slightly for the

president to be involved in the decision. Since 1973, however, presidents have often flung the
door open, ignoring this resolution and the Constitution.

20. The Monetary Reform Act (also cited as Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary
Control Act) (P. L. No. 96-221; 94 Stat. 132) (1980) Highlights: Allows banks to merge, and
institutions to charge any interest rate they choose. Forces all banks to abide by Federal
Reserve rules, and raised deposit insurance of banks and credit unions from $40,000 to
$100,000. (An aside: the Fed. Reserve is a private bank.)

21. The Fairness Doctrine repealed under Reagan 1987 (Federal Communications
Commission [FCC] policy) (1949) Required broadcasters to present controversial issues in an
honest, balanced manner. In 1988 FCC commissioner Johnson wrote that bringing back the
Fairness Doctrine would be "nothing less than possession of the First Amendment: Who gets to
have and express opinions in America."

22. World Trade Organization (WTO) (1995), North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
(1994), Central American Trade Agreement (CAFTA) These have functioned principally to pry
open markets for the benefit of transnational corporations at the expense of national and local
economies - workers, farmers, indigenous peoples, women and other social groups - health and
safety - the environment - and animal welfare. In addition, in the WTO system, rules and
procedures are undemocratic, un-transparent and non-accountable and have operated to
marginalize the majority of the world's people.

23. Telecommunications Act of 1996 (P. L. 104-104, 110 Stat. 56) (1996) The Act was
claimed to foster competition. Instead, it continued historic industry consolidation reducing the
number of major media companies from around 50 (1983) to 6 (2005). It led to a drastic decline
in the number of radio station owners. Example of corporate welfare spawned by political
corruption - it gave away to incumbent broadcasters valuable licenses for broadcasting digital
signals on the public airwaves.
Lesson from this act: Deregulation before meaningful competition spells consumer disaster.

24. Welfare Reform Act (Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation
Act, H.R. 3734, P.L.104-193) (1996) Sets time limits on entitlements and cash assistance to
welfare recipients; requires most recipients to get jobs; changes disability definitions for SSI for
children; denies many legal immigrants from collecting SSI and food stamps, and much more.
Inherent in the Act: misogyny, racism, and exploitation of women (do whatever job you can get
and don't complain - or risk homelessness). Attention should have been directed to conditions
of low-wage labor market - living wage, health care, and child care all desperately needed.

25. FDA Modernization Act of 1997 (FDAMA, P. L. 105-115, 21 USC 301) (1997) FDA relaxes
rules of prescription drug advertising. Eases restrictions on direct-to-consumer advertising of
prescription drugs. Allows manufacturers to disseminate journal articles describing the results
of trials for unapproved uses of drugs. And much more.

26. The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-16,
115 Stat. 38, June 7, 2001) ("The Bush Tax Cuts")

27. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010

28. Restoring American Financial Stability Act (RAFS) of 2010

Thursday, February 23, 2017

“Whirlpool is a dictator in Benton Harbor, MI,” says Rev. Pinkney

By Rev. Edward Pinkney           

February 2017

Reverend Edward Pinkney.

BROOKES/FREMONT PRISON, MI —The Whirlpool Corporation has committed genocide in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction of a group of people, especially of a particular ethnic group.
Benton Harbor is over 90% Black and over 60% of the people live in poverty. Benton Harbor has rich lake Michigan beachfront property and parks. The Whirlpool Corporation, which rules the region, joined forces with the government to steal the town’s property and to systematically eliminate the residents of Benton Harbor by any means necessary.
Whirlpool is known for its leading role in the gentrification of the city. Gentrification is a process of renewal and rebuilding with an accompanying influx of affluent people to a deteriorating area. Gentrification often displaces and destroys poor residents.
US Congressman Fred Upton, heir to the Whirlpool Corporation’s fortune, voted to give Whirlpool a welfare check of $500 million to save the corporation. This shows the merging of the corporations and government. We call it fascism. What do you call it?
Whirlpool is among the major corporations that control the state legislature—which passed Public Act 4. This act turned the Emergency Financial Manager into the Emergency Manager, giving corporations broader powers to overrule elected officials and take control of cities and school districts.
Benton Harbor was one of the first cities to have an Emergency Manager, thanks to the power of Whirlpool. Emergency Managers can replace local officials, sell public property and assets, privatize public services, dismantle collective bargaining agreements and more. They are dictators in the service of the corporations. The Whirlpool Corporation is a dictator in Benton Harbor.
The Benton Harbor Parks Conservancy Board works directly with Whirlpool against the people of Benton Harbor. The board is a potentially disastrous instrument used against the people of Benton Harbor. It is a non-profit organization created by Whirlpool to manage and dissolve 13 parks in the city.
Whirlpool controls all of Berrien County: the courthouses, Benton Harbor commissions, Benton Harbor city government, the Conservancy Board, even the fascist media, Herrald Paladium. Whirlpool is a poster child of the post industrial destruction of the manufacturing we once knew.
As the economic crisis continues to deepen and grip America, people in working class communities across the country, especially in former industrial towns like Benton Harbor, are beginning to stand up and demand that the government serve the people’s interests, not the corporations. As the people stand up, they come under fire from the corporate-government. This is especially true in Benton Harbor. The city of Benton Harbor and leaders of the people, such as myself, have felt the wrath of Whirlpool Corporation.  We must confront the corporations.
We encourage reproduction of this article so long as you credit the source. Copyright © 2017 People’s Tribune. Visit us at
We encourage reproduction of this article so long as you credit the source.
Copyright © 2017 People's Tribune. Visit us at

Monday, February 20, 2017

From a Michigan prison: An organizer speaks out

From a Michigan prison: An organizer speaks out

Michigan solidarity with Kinross prisoners’ uprising.
Gonzales was a participant in the September 2016 mass demonstration and protest by prisoners at Michigan’s Kinross Prison. He has been singled out and punished for being “a leader.” These remarks are excerpted from a longer account in the San Francisco BayView on Feb. 3.
All the inmates at what is now known as Kinross were transferred as a whole to that facility in the fall of 2015. The “new” facility was abhorrently below the health and safety standards required to open it. When we arrived, there was no heat, the plumbing didn’t work, the room and cell furnishings that are required by Correctional Facilities Administration (CFA) policies could not be met, i.e., blankets, sheets, washcloths, towels, etc. …
Kinross just created a united mindset to stand against it finally. Suddenly, everyone was an activist, willing to support in any way they could.
We exhausted all the avenues for legal redress on the issues to the kangaroo judicial system — it just happened to be the same system we were seeking redress from: “Big Business MDOC,” the same people who approved and allowed us to be transferred there. Clearly, they were not going to answer in our favor and give in to the most hated enemy of Big Business: “liability.” …
Suffice it to say the work stoppage was organized and put in effect the morning of Sept. 9. The protest had taken on a national aspect, where it was no longer just about Kinross, but the idea and concept of mass incarceration, built with racial overtones, unfair and unethical sentencing practices, unjust taxation without representation, such as the 6 percent sales tax on anything we order except food from the store, even shipping and handling, “the New Jim Crow.”
The warden knew of the protest and the truth of why it happened at his facility, a fact that can be logically proven by his stance of inaction against it. He instructed his staff not to write tickets or fire inmates for not working. If you check the records, no tickets were written and no one lost a job for not working that day. Clearly, he knew we had legitimate gripes against his facility.
His staff, however, was of a different opinion. They chose to try and exorcise the protest out of us through mistreatment: malicious shakedowns, breaking property and underfeeding us with dated, spoiled food; and when seeking redress, we were told to “deal with it.”
This sparked off the assembly on Sept. 10, 2016. …
So I ended up out there and, yeah, when things started to turn dark (mindsets, not the time of day) and people — scared, tired, frustrated, with hope almost gone — asked me to be the spokesperson for the inmates with the administration, I did it, and peacefully ended the assembly. This action has me labeled as the “leader” of the incidents, when in actuality I ended a situation that could have turned ugly for everyone. I thought I did a good thing for us: no one hurt, good discussion with the warden, a positive tone all around.
But “Big Business” couldn’t allow it to end like that. It had too much attention and they couldn’t allow the focus of the incident to be on the issues, so they literally sent in the guns to an already agitated, anxiety-filled, desperate group of individuals who were barely talked out of violence, to aggravate and intensify their aggression.
They intentionally incited a riot-type atmosphere so the department would back their past transgressions — they would have no choice! They intentionally collage all the events together to paint the picture of a bunch of inmates storming out of units rioting, when in fact the assembly had been over for at least two hours, inmates were in their units in their cubes and peaceful when they sent in the “storm troopers.” Inmates in my unit were on their bunks and still they gassed us repeatedly.
We were taken out of the unit and myself and 102 other inmates were taken to Marquette Prison, to a condemned block that had been closed down for four years prior to our arrival. We were placed in filthy cells here also, plumbing didn’t work, and supplies and treatment were below standards. We were always fed the same bag meals, although they had a functioning kitchen with workers, and already fed everyone else there in their cells hot meals.
After the second day, I was separated from the rest of the transferred Kinross prisoners and placed in another block, where I was informed that they “knew” I was the “leader” and I had nothing coming. They meant my property was “lost.” Everything I possessed — hygiene, legal transcripts, coat, shoes, appliances, photos, etc. — everything gone. I was denied toothpaste the whole time I was there.
Twenty-seven days later, 88 of us were transferred again to Baraga Maximum Facility, where again I was separated from the rest of the inmates. I was immediately called into an office, told they “knew” I was the “leader” of the “rebellion” and that I should plan to be there in segregation for two years. …
[But before, on] Aug. 19, 2016, I was a level one-one prisoner, the lowest security achievable. I was a father with an 8-year-old son I have never seen face to face, not living in the best of circumstances, striving diligently to reach him. I had three years left on an 11-year sentence. …
We need help! I’m shouting out from this 8-by-10 cell, help us!
Don’t let them quiet our voice; be an amplifier for us. Don’t let what they are doing to us and throughout the MDOC fade into oblivion. We were not angels, but we don’t deserve this! …
Show your support and write to Harold Gonzales, 194496, Baraga Maximum Correctional Facility, 13924 Wadaga Rd., Baraga, MI 49908-9204.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Trump Lifts Cap on Costs of Calls for Prisoners

Little noticed in the furor over the travel ban and other controversies, the Trump administration quietly made a decision that will affect hundreds of thousands of people. The Federal Communications Commission, under new leadership, has informed a court that it will no longer defend an Obama-era effort to cap the costs of phone calls between prisoners and their families. Companies like Securus Technologies, Global Tel Link and CenturyLink may be pleased, but parents and siblings will now go back to paying hundreds of dollars a month to speak with their loved ones. — Eli Hager, of The Marshall Project

(Parents, siblings, fiances, wives, husbands, children, friends, colleagues, clergy, prisoners themselves--all are likely now to go back to paying rates even more exorbitant than the current ones.)

Whirlpool Corp. Continues to Land Grab

Benton Harbor, Berrien County, and Whirlpool Corporation, in an effort to isolate and silence me, all working together sent me to prison. I was fighting against the power of the land-grabbing, job outsourcing, criminal Whirlpool Corp. that has its headquarters in the City of Benton Harbor.

We must make the business world of  Whirlpool Corp. more accountable for their action and inaction. We must take, for example, the situation of Whirlpool and their relationship to the Black community. Black people spend millions and millions of dollars, but get little or no benefits, no jobs, nothing in return.

Whirlpool Corp. takes our money and invests it, but does not invest in the Black community. They take our money and build half-million dollar houses, a Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course, and $500 million marina/residential golf course complex. We cannot afford to live in the complex and the banks refuse to loan the residents of Benton Harbor money. We can no longer tolerate this behavior.

Benton Harbor and its sister community across the river, St. Joseph, are in Berrien County on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan. Historically, the Whirlpool Corp., a global appliance manufacturer, has been the largest single employer and the main political influence in the county. What had once been a relatively prosperous working class in Benton Harbor became plagued with unemployment and poverty as Whirlpool began transitioning the area from industrial to a tourist, real estate, and service-based economy. This process has prompted resistance from the people of Benton Harbor and that resistance prompted an attack on the people by Whirlpool and its local political machine.

But it seems that things have changed today for the worse. The problem is gentrification that is both visible and obvious to anyone approaching the issue of Benton Harbor and Whirlpool in good faith.

Gentrification has become the topic of conversation across Benton Harbor, with many asking some very serious questions. How is it that development became one and the same with increasing inequality in general and intensifying it? Why is it that our city government, dominated by Blacks for decades, offers absolutely no alternative to this increasing inequality?

Gentrification is not the underlying problem. Gentrification is the name for the broader problem, capitalism--which is the real problem. The much larger problem is the destruction of the City of Benton Harbor.

The attack on democracy in Benton Harbor shows Whirlpool Corp. power structure and they are determined to crush anyone who stands in its way. Whirlpool Corp. is committing genocide in Benton Harbor, Michigan. We must confront Whirlpool Corporation together!

-Rev. Edward Pinkney

Friday, February 10, 2017

DIFFERENT CLASSROOMS: Segregation and Integration in the Schools

By Rev. Edward Pinkney, 2/6/2017
In 1954, in a case called Brown v Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the United States Supreme Court ruled that separating the races in schools deprives Negro children of equal education opportunity. “Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal,” Chief Justice Warren wrote.  In addition, Justice Warren also said school segregation creates in minority children a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone. The Court declared school segregation laws unconditionally unconstitutional. 
The decision stunned and enraged Southern segregationists. In March 1956, a group of US senators and representatives from the eleven states of the Old Confederacy signed a statement, which was called the Southern Manifesto. In it, they declared their opposition to the Supreme Court decision, and they urged that schools fight any attempts to integrate. As a result of resistance by segregationists, which was sometimes violent, most southern schools were not integrated until 10 to 20 years after the Supreme Court decision in the Brown case. 
Black children’s experiences in segregation or segregated schools differed widely. In some classrooms, teachers were hesitant to talk about civil rights for fear of antagonizing the white establishment. In others, teachers instilled in their students a pride in black achievement. As in all schools, segregation, whether segregated or integrated, some teachers repeated past lessons so that few were inspired and many were bored. But, other teachers challenged their students to think, to analyze, to stretch, their minds. As Claudette Colvin said of her teachers, “They were pricking our minds.” The young people who tell their stories in the section on segregation or segregated schools reflect the full range of these experiences. 
In every black school, the students knew that their facilities and materials were inferior to those in white schools. According to James Roberson, a former school principal, the second class citizenship was strongly evident and felt in the educational system. Never receiving new textbooks was quite revealing to me. Our books were used, marked up, worn out books from white schools.
But despite the limited resources, black children in segregated schools were, at least, in safe environments. Their first experience of attending integrated schools was startling by contrast. Although black children did not anticipate warm welcomes, neither did they expect the depth and extent of the hostility they encountered from white students and also, too often, from teachers. Yet they persisted, and in that persistence, exhibited an extraordinary strength and single-mindedness of purpose.
Every attempt at integration, there was resistance from segregationists. In the case of Ricky and Pat Shuttlesworth, the violence was so great that they never even entered the school they were trying to integrate. For the others who were able to enroll, they were met with taunts, even attacks, by other students and by often shameful behavior by teachers.
The courage exhibited by black children in America during this time of severe struggles, verbal attacks, and physical violence, made a difference not only in each of their lives, but for all others who followed. 

Thursday, February 09, 2017

THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE: You can’t play with white children!

By Rev. Edward Pinkney
In April and May 1963, thousands of civil rights demonstrators in Birmingham, Alabama, were attacked by police officers under orders from Police Commissioner Eugene Bull Connor. The police wielded nightsticks and unleashed dogs on the marchers, and firefighters knocked down demonstrators with high-powered water hoses. Many children and adults were injured. Young blacks were jailed by the thousands while the rest of America and the world watched in horror. So many young people were arrested that these events became known as The Children’s Crusade.
The effect of the demonstrations was so great that Birmingham’s white business leaders were forced to discuss a timetable for ending segregation in downtown stores and for setting up a plan to hire black sales and office workers. 
At a mass meeting on May 6, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King spoke about the events in Birmingham: 
There are those who write history and there are those who make history. I do not know how many historians we have in Birmingham tonight, but you are certainly making history, and you will make it possible for the historians of the future to write a marvelous chapter.
Segregation was not abstract to black people living in the south; it was everyday life. It touched every corner of southern existence: movie theaters, hospitals, libraries, taxicabs, churches, cemeteries—everywhere. In one Alabama city, the public library would not have children’s books that showed black and white rabbits together. In another city, blacks and whites were forbidden to play checkers with each other in public places. In South Carolina, white and black cotton mill workers were not permitted to look out the same window. In Oklahoma, telephone booths were segregated. However absurd these rules may seem today, we must demand the truth be told. These rules were meant to discriminate against and demean black people. 
Some segregationists did not stop with rules that favored whites. Too many supported the use of violence against blacks. Even young black children knew and were warned about the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups. They knew that blacks were beaten, arrested, terrorized, and even murdered with little or no recourse under the law. They knew that white judges often dismissed cases brought by blacks. They knew that if a case did not go to trial, all-white juries rarely would convict a white individual for a crime against a black individual.
Blacks perceived the specific humiliation for exactly what it was and what was meant by it. They understood what was happening, why they were given stale cookies or sent to separate tables to eat or heard their elders saying “Yes sir” and “No sir” to white people decades younger than the black elders. 
Ben Chaney of Meridian, Mississippi said, “We lived across the street from a white family. From my side of the street on it was the black community. Up until the time I was about ten years old, I always played with those white kids. But, once I became ten, their parents came straight out and told me they didn’t want me playing with their kids no more. Their mama told them they were better than I was and told me I couldn’t associate with her son, and I had to call him “Mister,” and the children themselves adopted that attitude. You can’t play with white kids!”

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

JUSTICE OR MERCY: Inspired by Jeremiah Wright, Jr.

By Rev. Edward Pinkney (from Feb. 10)
JUSTICE or MERCY? That was the question. Friday will be the big day. This Friday, it is finally going to be resolved. The big debate is going to take place. We are finally going to determine which is more important: Justice or Mercy. Who is right?
 It would be very similar to the debate between Malcolm and Martin. Do we believe an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life? We are going to resolve this. The debate will be held on Friday at twelve o’clock. Both parties will provide evidence to support each party’s position.
Martin had been trying to convince Malcolm for years that, if you continue to believe an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth and a life for a life, you will have blind people, toothless people, and dead people. 
As expected, when Friday at Noon came, Justice was present. He was always on time. He believed in order. Everything had a place and everything should be in its place. If you believe in the law, if you do things the way they are supposed to be done, there will never be a need for forgiveness and mercy. These are signs of weakness. When you operate from a standpoint of strength and justice, there is no need for such wimpish activity as mercy. 
As per usual, Mercy was late. Justice tried to appeal to the judge that he should win because the agreement was to debate on Friday at Noon. Justice provided his evidence. He cited example after example, court case after court case on how things work better when there is order and logic. The judge ordered that he would give Mercy until 3:00 before making the final decision. Justice was furious! He knew he was right and Mercy was stalling! 
Two hours went by and Justice said, “Will you are least realize after two hours have gone by and Mercy has not shown up that she is afraid of what will happen and Mercy has chosen not to appear?” The judge overruled and said, “We will wait until 3:00.”
Finally, at 2:50 p.m., Mercy appeared. While Justice was neatly dressed in a dapper designer suit, Mercy looked like she had been through the ringer! She was tattered and torn. The first thing Justice said to Mercy was, “Where have you been?” Mercy shook her head and said, “You can’t imagine what I have been through. First, I had to walk Moses over the Red Sea as Pharoah was chasing behind him with his army, and they were trying to kill Moses and the Israelites. It was tough for awhile, but I provided a carpet for them and Pharoah’s army drowned.” Justice shook his head and said, “That is no excuse for being late. You should have let the Hebrews die. They probably had done something wrong, anyway, or Pharoah would not have been chasing them.”
At this, Mercy went on, saying, “Your Honor, I apologize for being late, but Daniel got caught in the lion’s den. They wanted him to bow down and acknowledge their god, and Daniel was not going to compromise. I had to step in and put my hand in the lion’s mouth to protect Daniel. Your Honor, it didn’t stop there. When I thought that I was going to make it, unfortunately, the Hebrew boys had the same problem. They, too, were not going to bow down to a foreign god, so they were placed in a fiery furnace. It was hot! The Hebrew boys had no reason for being there, so I had to step in and that it why, unfortunately, I look the way I do.” 
Justice was flabbergasted and roared, “They had to have done something wrong or the king would not have placed them in a fiery furnace! People don’t do things just to be doing them.”
The judge overruled and said, “Continue on, Mercy.” 
Mercy continued, “I had to break up a fight. There was going to be warfare between this huge giant named Goliath and this little boy named David, who only had some rocks and a slingshot to fight Goliath. Your Honor, you could see that this was not fair; even Justice should understand that.”
Justice replied, “I thought it was fair. David shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Someone else should have fought Goliath.”
Mercy went on, “So I had to step in and give David some extra fire power with his slingshot and his five rocks. Then came the problem with Paul and Silas. They were to be executed at Midnight, but they were innocent. They had done nothing wrong except praise His name. Your Honor, when I was almost to the courtroom today, Mary and Martha called me to tell me their brother Lazarus was dead. They were on my case because they said if I had shown up earlier, Lazarus would not have died! I had to move the rock! I know I smell very bad, and I apologize but that is why I smell this way. Regardless, the good news is Lazarus is alive!
“Then, some Roman soldiers nailed me to the cross, pierced me on the side, and that is why you see blood stains on my clothes. Before I left, I told them, ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.’”
Justice was irate! He looked at the judge and said, “Are you going to believe this nonsense?!
The Judge looked at Mercy, then look at Justice and answered, “Yes. It is finished.” 
Justice stormed out the door in rage. Mercy and the Judge hugged each other, and Mercy calmly said to the Judge, “Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit.”

The blindfolded lady holding the scales of justice do not exist in Berrien County, Michigan. 

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

End Mass Incarceration!

By Rev. Edward Pinkney
The Michigan Collaborative to End Mass Incarceration, representing 56 organizations and over 300 individuals, strongly supports legislation to raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 18 and to remove youth from adult facilities. Michigan is one of only seven remaining states automatically prosecuting 17-year-olds as adults for any offense. Most 17-year-olds in the adult system have been convicted of non-violent offenses and never had a juvenile record. This antiquated practice is contrary to research that indicates it is exceptionally harmful to youth and directly threatens public safety. In order to reduce reoffending rates, reduce corrections costs, and align with national standards, it is imperative that Michigan raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 18.
In nearly all aspects of law, Michigan recognizes 18 as the age of adulthood. Seventeen-year-olds cannot vote, legally sign a contract, drop out of school, rent a hotel room, or purchase tobacco, fireworks or lottery tickets. Seventeen-year-olds are considered children whom the State’s child welfare system must protect from abuse and neglect. Yet if caught in the legal system for any reason, 17-year-olds must be prosecuted, convicted and sentenced as adults in Michigan’s criminal courts. 
Prosecuting youth in the adult system is harmful and threatens public safety. Most 17-year-olds in the court system are held in adult jails and prisons where they are at imminent risk of physical and sexual violence, restraints, solitary confinement and suicide. Without access to age appropriate services, young people exiting adult prison are 34% more likely to reoffend and commit a violent crime compared to their peers in the juvenile justice system. An adult conviction also has lifelong consequences, including barriers to education, employment and housing. A young person convicted in Michigan’s adult system can expect to earn 40% less over his/her lifetime, which translates to a loss of state tax revenue and an increased risk of future incarceration. 
Research confirms that 17-year-olds are not adults. As part of normal development, they are more likely to take risks, act impulsively, and are highly susceptible to the negative influences of their peers. Though these age-related factors may contribute to youthful mistakes, 17-year-olds are prohibited from accessing youth-focused treatment found only in the juvenile system. 
Several states have recently increased the age of juvenile jurisdiction, citing research, public safety and cost-savings as the reasons for the change. These states reported little to no cost impact mostly due to supporting effective diversion and community-based treatment options. In fact, they expect a long-term cost saving, estimating that by including 17-year-olds in the juvenile justice system, three dollars will be saved for one dollar spent!
Now is the time for Michigan to join the 43 other states already recognizing that 17-year-olds who come into contact with the justice system are still children. 
America is beginning to look more and more like Nazi Germany. There are two to three million people incarcerated in U.S. prisons, 820,000 individuals are on parole, and three million individuals are on probation. The USA has 25% of the world’s prison population and only five percent of the world’s population! 
The scales of justice are unbalanced, especially against the poor and people of color. We must continue to fight this grave imbalance to ensure a humane and just future for everyone. We must confront the establishment, the oppressor of the American people. We must confront the system.