Monday, March 20, 2017

A friend of Rev. Pinkney, Lynne Stewart, 1939-2017

The Extraordinary Lynne Stewart

Two incidents serve well to highlight peoples’ attorney Lynne Stewart’s extraordinary life in the service of humanity.
Charged with “conspiracy to aid and abet terrorism,” Lynne took the witness stand in early 2005 at the close of her nine-month frame-up trial presided over by Federal District Court Judge John Koeltl in New York City. Stewart was asked by her attorney, Michael Tigar, why she had issued a press release on behalf of her client, the “blind” Sheik and Egyptian cleric, Omar Abdel Rahman, when she knew that doing so was a violation of a Special Administrative Order (SAM) that prohibited Rahman from engaging in contact with anyone, anywhere, other than his attorneys. Rahman had been falsely convicted in 1995 of participating in a New York City terrorist conspiracy and was serving a life-sentence in Rochester, Minn.
The answer to that question, put to Stewart full square, stood at the core of her case. “Why not just appeal the SAM’s restrictions to a higher court?” Tigar continued.
The remainder of her life in prison rested on Lynne’s answer. The jury, 12 New Yorkers, sequestered during a trial in the same courtroom where in 1953 Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were sentenced to execution at the height of the McCarthy era, listened more than intently. The stakes were high. The prosecution was demanding a 30-year jail sentence.
Lynne’s sensational trial had all the earmarks of a government, in the name of its “war on terrorism,” preparing to shred whatever semblance of fair play remained in the criminal “justice” system. To put an attorney in jail for diligently representing her client was close to unprecedented—“a chill on the bar,” significant parts of the legal profession proclaimed.
The obliging Judge Koeltl, undoubtedly aware that government prosecutors aimed to directly link Lynne to terrorism, by hook or by crook, allowed the horror of the Sept. 11, 2001, Twin Towers terrorist bombings to enter and pervade his courtroom. He chose to base his heinous decision on the findings of an FBI search of Lynne’s law offices, where photos of Osama Bin Laden and other terrorists around the world were found. The judge disregarded the fact that all the photos and related files on worldwide terrorist activities belonged to one of Lynne’s co-defendants, her professional Arabic translator, Mohamed Yousry, whose NYU Ph.D. thesis and associated research on terrorism had been approved by his faculty adviser.
Lynne’s attorney, Michael Tigar, objected to the introduction of this material as hearsay—that is, as having no connection to Lynne or to the case at hand. In U.S. law the introduction of hearsay “evidence” is virtually banned. But Tigar’s motion was essentially circumvented by Koeltl with a deadly twist. He agreed that the material was hearsay and instructed the jury that it was not to be considered as fact or having any relation to the charges against Stewart. Yet he nevertheless allowed its introduction to, as he explained,“enable the jury to learn about the mind of the defendant.” I will never forget Koeltl’s vicious and duplicitous words.
His decision squared with the prosecution’s objective to link Stewart and her two co-defendants to terrorist activities everywhere. Delighted, the terrorist show trial was on as prosecutors proceeded to flood the walls of the courtroom, replete with giant and multiple theater-sized screens, with photos of terrorist activities—all aimed at associating Lynne with the government’s conception of an ongoing “worldwide terrorist conspiracy.”
In the end, some 90 percent or more of Lynne’s nine-month trial focused on this hearsay evidence, while the prosecution presented just a single witness to state that he had issued the SAM to Lynne. Not a single witness testified that Lynne had any connection to any terrorist activities anywhere.
Thus, Lynne’s answer to the question as to why she didn’t appeal this SAM to a higher court was crucial to her life itself. She might have argued that the SAM itself was ambiguous, that in the normal course of events when an attorney violates a SAM they are reprimanded or punished by being denied contact with their client for three months, and/or required to sign a new SAM.
I paraphrase Lynne’s remarks as I remember them in that rapt courtroom. I was astonished when she stated, “I have a friend in prison, Mumia Abu-Jamal. He filed a lawsuit to prevent his prosecutors from opening his mail, including from his attorneys.” Lynne continued, “Mumia Abu-Jamal won that suit but it took him some five years. My duty to my client required that under such circumstances, we not wait five years with regard to a harmless press release.”
Here was Lynne, at her personal, uninhibited, spontaneous best andcraziest. With her life on the line she decided to bring the case of a dear friend and a convicted world-renowned “cop-killer,” Mumia Abu-Jamal, to the attention of the New York jury. No serious attorney would have recommended it. But Lynne, cut from another cloth, believed that Mumia’s case needed to be once again brought to public attention.
Her remarks were not scripted, not carefully presented to evoke sympathy, not offered to mitigate her SAM violation, but only to tell the jury, and the world, who she was—a human being who stood by Mumia to the end. This single incident tells us precisely what Lynne’s life and record as a people’s lawyer for the poor and oppressed was all about.
The final question asked to Lynne by her attorney was the clincher. “Lynne,” said Tigar, “if you had to do it all over again, would you have issued that press release?” I was within some 15 feet of Lynne and holding my breath for her answer. Lynne, once again, had a choice, the easy road of contrition, apology, and a plea for forgiveness, or the road to hell—in Lynne’s mind to socialist heaven—paved only with Lynne’s life-long humanistic and loving intentions and faith that she could penetrate the hearts and minds of the jury.
She responded, as her eyes welled up with tears, “I would hope,” she began and then paused. “I would hope that I had the courage to do it again.” She paused again, unable to speak—momentarily overcome by her emotions. She continued, “I would do it again!”
No apologies from Lynne Stewart. No legal or self-serving pleas to the jury that she had a made a mistake and should have taken the SAM to the courts. Lynne’s response evoked the passion of a movement fighter, of a champion of all that is beautiful in the human soul. Lynne Stewart, for whom the truth was required to preserve her very being, put it on the line that day, perhaps never stopping to think of the consequences. Would it be that we all had that courage and expressed it collectively in the kind of mass struggles that are capable of bringing this damn racist, sexist, imperialist system down forever. And when we do this, our martyrs will be resurrected in their full stature.
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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Whirlpool closing Benton Harbor, MI schools

Whirlpool Corporation closing Benton Harbor, MI schools

Rev. Pinkney leads a march against the development of the public Jean Klock Park, where a private golf club and luxury housing has been built, pushed through by the Whirlpool Corporation’s money and power.

BROOKS/FREMONT CORRECTIONAL FACILITY —  Let the truth be told. Capitalism generates inequality and wealth, status and power. You must recognize the unfairness of a system that allows wealth to accumulate to an unlimited degree and claim to provide equal opportunity for the people. It is a system that undermines democracy by concentrating power and wealth in the hands of a few.
The oppressor is the establishment, which operates the system that oppresses the people. The establishment no longer needs educated workers as it once did. It once took 50 people to make one automobile. Now one person makes 50 automobiles. Education is the last thing on the oppressor’s list for the minorities.
The factory jobs previously provided were for workers of the predominantly Black Benton Harbor and the predominantly white St. Joseph (across the river). The jobs provided stability and a good standard of living. Then in the 1990’s, a pattern typical of the Rust Belt, emerged. The jobs began to disappear. Jobs were replaced by globalization, sent elsewhere, or replaced by robots.
Whirlpool Corporation, a global appliance manufacturing company, is the largest single employer and single biggest political influence on local government in Berrien County, MI. Whirlpool controls the county commissioners, Berrien County Courthouse, its judges and prosecutors, Benton Harbor Commissioners and Benton Harbor School District and Board.
Whirlpool set its sights on turning the city of Benton Harbor into a lakeside resort for the wealthy. Whirlpool and other corporations teamed up and began transitioning the area from an industrial based economy to a tourist, real estate and service-based economy. First, they built a $500 million arena plus the Jack Nicholas Signature Golf Course complex that would take 465 acres of Benton Harbor and deprive the city of its greatest assets, which includes Jean Klock Park.
Whirlpool no longer needs educated workers from Benton Harbor. Whirlpool Corporation now plans to close all of Benton Harbor schools. The city of Benton Harbor is down to five schools and now Whirlpool and Gov. Rick Snyder are going for the throat to close three more schools.
I Rev. Edward Pinkney have for years gone to school board meetings to tell the board what needs to be done to educate the students and that parents must get involved. I am afraid the parents, teachers and school board members have been misled and lied to by Whirlpool. Now we have three schools closing, overcrowded classrooms and there is no telling what kind of education the children will get. In addition, the school system has gotten many loans from the state. Where is that money? Who is responsible and accountable for our students’ education? Who is responsible for the attack on our school system?
The Whirlpool Corporation is determined to crush the residents of Benton Harbor. The economy and social equality is the essence of democracy and is the antithesis of capitalism. We must confront the Whirlpool Corporation at all cost.

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Saturday, March 04, 2017

Berrien County Sheriff's Department Looks More Like Nazi Germany

The goal was to immediately sterilize fourteen million people in the United States and millions and millions more worldwide. The lower tenth and then continuously eradicate the remaining. The Holocaust, the destruction of the Jews, the Gypsies, the rape of Poland, and the decimation of Europe. All this reminds me of Berrien County in the state of Michigan.

The fascist newspaper, the Herald Palladium, stated the community comes through to help keep cops secure. Who will keep the residents of the community secure and safe from the Berrien County Sheriff's Department and law enforcement in general?

We are outraged over the death of unarmed African-American citizens and the general lack of police accountability for those killed in the year after the death of Michael Brown and the Ferguson outbreak alone, including Ezell Ford, Dante Parker, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Laquan McDonald, Natasha McKenna, Tony Robinson, Anthony Hill, Meagan Hockaday, Mya Hall, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Alexia Christian, Icarus Randolpha, Sandra Bland, Sam Dubose, Christian Taylor, and Aura Rosser. The conditions of the police encounters that ended in the loss of each of their lives and the lives of thousands and thousands of other innocent citizens that will never be known. It is beginning to look like Nazi Germany every single day.

Foundation President Lisa Cripps-Downey said the money was raised after Berrien County Trial Court Security Officers Joseph Zangaro and Ron Kienzle were shot and killed by jail inmate Larry Gordon on July 11th. Larry Gordon said he would never, ever go to trial in the most corrupt county in the whole wide world. Gordon said he would rather die than go to trial, because you do not have a chance in Berrien County because of the corruption.

The county was in shock, but the community was not. Joseph Zangaro and Ron Kinezle were just pawns and were expendable for the corrupt system to accomplish their goal, that is to keep the citizens in total fear to remove their human rights.

Foundation President Lisa Cripps-Downey, are you willing to present a check to Martell Hadley's family who was beaten and murdered by the Berrien County Sheriff's Department inside the jail? He was found hanging by the neck and beaten. What about all the women that were molested by the Berrien County Sheriff's deputies: are you going to send them a check?

Berrien County is well-funded off taxpayers' dollars and supported by major political and non-intellectual leaders. Perhaps most startling, it directly inspired racism and the rise of Nazism in Berrien County today. This is chilling. Berrien County conveys the evil depth and breadth of Nazism, which unleashed a war against society's most vulnerable citizens.

Corruption is deep in Berrien County. It is looking more like Nazi Germany every single day. This is chilling, shocking, and gripping. We must confront Berrien County's Nazism.

-Rev. Pinkney