As the bulk of the manufacturing jobs either replaced or sent elsewhere. Whirlpool set its sights on turning Benton Harbor-St Joseph area into a lakeside resort for the wealthy. The former CEO of Whirlpool advocated in 2003-4 for developing a 500 million marina/residential/golf course complex that would take 465 acres of Benton Harbor. It would privatize the city's only beach and pay the city less than $1million for the property. Rev Edward Pinkney, a Black community activist in Benton Harbor, and many others, opposed the plan because it would do nothing for the poor and would deprive the city of some of its greatest assets. Benton Harbor City Commissioner Glen Yarbrough was local politician supporting the plan.
As the largest local employer, Whirlpool has historically been the single biggest influence on local government in Berrien County. In 2004 Pinkney and the organization Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO) circulated petitions to recall commissioner Yarbrough (who is Black ) because Yarbrough was representing only Whirlpool's interests, not the community's. Pinkney and BANCO network rallied the community to get out the absentee vote, winning the recall election by 54 votes. Whirlpool's local political forces -Yarbrough, the local police and sheriff's department. and Berrien County Judiciary-then went into action to overturn the recall election,to isolate and crush Pinkney, and to contain the people of Benton Harbor.
Voter fraud was used as an excuse by the county prosecutor to sue the city to overturn the recall election. Then Pinkney was framed, he was arrested and indicted on trumped -up " voter fraud " charges and in March of 2005, the first trial ended in a hung jury, then March 2007 Rev Pinkney was convicted by an all-white jury, that was motivated by something other than the truth.. There was ample evidence to show that Pinkney was framed, but the judge refuse to allow it to be admitted during the trial. The city clerk, was forced out of office.