[Ppnews] Benton Harbor & the jailed Rev. Pinkney

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Sun Dec 23 15:43:18 EST 2007

(for additional information and web links about this case)

REV. PINKNEY'S attorney, Hugh M. Davis, tells 
an attempt at a hearing on Thursday, 20 
December  2007 to get Pinkney out of jail failed.

Davis says Judge Alfred Butzbaugh accepted their 
argument that the following statement was 
protected by the first amendment right of free speech:

"The corruption and the deceitfulness continues 
in Berrien County Courthouse. Judge Butzbaugh has 
violated his oath. I support the constitution of 
the United States and the State of Michigan; we 
are still waiting on this racist corrupt judge to 
do the same. Judge Butzbaugh has failed the 
people, the community, his duties and his office."

However, Davis says the Judge ruled that the 
following statement by Pinkney calling on God to 
curse the judge and his family was not protected 
by the first amendment and it was a violation of 
the probation terms prohibiting inflammatory remarks:

"Judge Butzbaugh, it shall come to pass; if thou 
continue not to hearken unto the voice of the 
Lord thy God to observe to do all that is right; 
which I command thee this day, that all these 
Curses shall come upon you and your family, 
curses shalt be in the City of St. Joseph and 
Cursed shalt thou be in the field, cursed shall 
come upon you and your family and over take thee; 
cursed shall be the fruit of thy body. The Lord 
shall smite thee with consumption and with a 
fever and with an inflammation and with extreme 
burning. They the demons shall Pursue thee until thou persist."

Both of the above quotes are part of an article 
that originated in the People's Tribune; PO Box 
3524, Chicago, IL 60654, 773-486-3551, 
info at peoplestribune.org written by Rev. Pinkney. 

Attorney Davis also tells BC he is puzzled by the 
ruling and has never heard of anything like it 
before. Another hearing on the matter will take place in about two weeks.

Note: This story will be updated if there are new 
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Larry Pinkney and David Love appeared on Make It 
Plain with Mark Thompson on Sirius Radio - Left 
Channel 146 on (December 20, 2007) at 7pm Eastern 
Time. They discussed the Rev. Pinkney case.

Note: Larry Pinkney and Rev. Pinkney are not related.

In a series of commentaries in recent months, 
has reported on the story of Reverend Edward 
Pinkney.  Rev. Pinkney, a Black community leader 
and activist, has led the fight against official 
corruption and corporate greed in his 
impoverished and predominantly Black community of Benton Harbor, Michigan.

In an effort to stop the giveaway of Benton 
Harbor's prime waterfront property to the 
Whirlpool Corporation ”which plans to build the 
$750 million to $1 billion Harbor Shores, a 
resort complete with a marina, golf course, 
hotels and luxury housing units, none of which 
will provide any benefit to Benton Harbor's 
residents—Pinkney led a successful election 
effort to unseat the city's most influential 
powerbroker.  A local judge threw out the 
election, and was subsequently rewarded by 
President Bush with a seat on the federal bench.

In retaliation for the recall effort, Pinkney was 
charged with voter fraud under an unjust, overly 
broad state law and found guilty by an all-White 
jury.  He was placed on probation and placed 
under house arrest.  His appeal for a new trial was denied.
For a detailed analysis, see Larry Pinkney's May 
10, 2007 commentary entitled, Benton Harbor 2007: 
A Case Study of State Sanctioned Suppression of 
Voting Rights, and David A. Love's December 13, 
2007 commentary entitled, Reverend Pinkney's 
Fight Against Racism, Gangsterism and Land Stealing.

On December 13, 2007, former Representative 
Cynthia McKinney (D-Georgia), a Green Party 
presidential candidate, visited Benton Harbor to 
show support for Rev. Pinkney.

The next day, Judge Alfred Butzbaugh issued an 
arrest warrant for Pinkney on the grounds that 
Pinkney violated his probation by engaging in 
"assaultive, abusive, defamatory, demeaning, 
harassing, violent, threatening, or intimidating behavior."

At issue was an article in the November/December 
issue of The People's Tribune, in which Rev. Pinkney stated:

"We must fight for justice for all anytime you 
have a Judge like Alfred Butzbaugh, who is a 
racist.  It took over 53 days to render a 
fifth-grade decision denying me a new trial."

Pinkney also said:

"In my motion for a new trial, I argued that I 
was charged but never arraigned, nor did I 
receive due process by the dumb Judge and 
prosecutor."  He added: "I support the 
constitution of the United States and the State 
of Michigan; we are still waiting on this racist 
corrupt judge to do the same. Judge Butzbaugh has 
failed the people, the community, his duties and his office."

Neither Pinkney nor his counsel were aware of such terms to his probation.

Rev. Pinkney was arrested by sheriff's deputies 
and locked up in the Berrien County Jail in 
neighboring St. Joseph.  And his computer was confiscated.

His supporters have endorsed a petition 
protesting the stolen Benton Harbor election and 
Pinkney's false prosecution.  They are calling 
for clemency from Governor Granholm, and a boycott of Whirlpool products.

In the meantime, Rev. Pinkney is on a hunger 
strike.  He is taking only liquids.

In a statement, former Rep. McKinney said the following:

"We received a tremendous reception in Benton 
Harbor, Michigan--a majority black community that 
is fighting for its survival against powerful 
corporate interests that want to own its pristine 
beachfront land.  Reverend Edward Pinkney has 
been a stalwart fighter for justice in the 
community and is leading its resistance to these 
powerful corporate interests.  I went to Benton 
Harbor to support Reverend Pinkney and the people 
of Benton Harbor in their struggle for 
self-determination.  At this meeting, it was 
clear that Reverend Pinkney had succeeded in 
bringing whites and blacks together in this fight 
for justice.  And we know that powerful interests 
view that as a no-no.  Unfortunately, today, the 
day after our wonderful rally with the residents, 
Reverend Pinkney was picked up by the police for 
allegedly violating the terms of his parole to 
not make ‘inflammatory statements."

Rev. Pinkney has been punished twice, once for 
fighting against powerful corporate interests— 
and using the democratic process to unseat their 
primary water boy— and a second time for using 
his First Amendment right to free speech by 
criticizing those who have committed a grave injustice against him.

The team of attorneys representing Rev. Pinkney 
believes they have a good first amendment 
case.  The National Lawyers Guild team will 
challenge the arrest, challenge the terms of the 
probation and ask the court to modify the 
conditions of probation at a hearing set for 4pm 
ET today (Thursday, December 20).

Hugh M. Davis, one member the three-lawyer 
Pinkney legal team told BC they would argue in 
court that the seizing of Pinkney's computer and 
prohibition of the use of a cell phone was illegal.

Additionally they will argue that the terms of 
condition 15 of the probation document are 
overbroad and vague.  The National Lawyers Guild 
team is hoping to get Pinkney released on bail 
while awaiting an appeal of the case.

The case of Rev. Pinkney is part of a lengthy 
ongoing struggle in Benton Harbor.  Rev. Pinkney 
and the Black community of Benton Harbor are not 
receiving justice, and "justice delayed is 
justice denied" to Pinkney and the entire Black community of Benton Harbor.

Further, it should be noted that what is 
occurring in Benton Harbor with Rev. Pinkney and 
the Black community there is precisely what is 
taking place on assorted levels throughout the 
U.S., e.g. the Jena 6, the San Francisco 8, the 
officially admitted Black torture victims of the Chicago police, etc.

And there are Benton Harbors across the nation, 
as Black, Brown and poor communities are 
displaced and decimated by gentrification and 
corporate greed, and in the case of New Orleans, 
eliminated through official neglect.

For those who believe it cannot, will not happen 
to them, the suppression of Rev. Pinkney's free 
speech rights jeopardizes the free speech rights 
of all Americans, particularly those of Black 
political activists and other people of 
color.  At a time when what you say can land you 
in jail, this suppression of Rev. Pinkney and the 
Black community has a chilling effect upon the 
exercising of one's constitutional rights.

BC readers should contact Rep. John Conyers to 
let him know that they want justice for Rev. Pinkney:

Rep. John Conyers
669 Federal Building
231 W. Lafayette
Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 961-5670
(313) 226-2085 Fax

2426 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-5126
(202) 225-0072 Fax

2615 W. Jefferson
Trenton, MI 48183
(734) 675-4084
(734) 675-4218 Fax

Email Mr. Conyers: John.Conyers at mail.house.gov

Editorial Board member David A. Love, JD is a 
lawyer and prisoners' rights advocate based in 
Philadelphia, and a contributor to the 
Progressive Media Project, McClatchy-Tribune News 
Service and In These Times.  He contributed to 
the book, States of Confinement: Policing, 
Detention, and Prisons. (St. Martin's Press, 
2000). Love is a former Amnesty International UK 
spokesperson, organized the first national police 
brutality conference as a staff member with the 
Center for Constitutional Rights, and served as a 
law clerk to two Black federal judges.

His BLOG is 
Click here 
to contact Mr. Love.

BC Editorial Board member, Larry Pinkney is a 
veteran of the Black Panther Party, the former 
Minister of Interior of the Republic of New 
Africa, a former political prisoner and the only 
American to have successfully self-authored his 
civil/political rights case to the United Nations 
under the International Covenant on Civil and 
Political Rights. For more about Larry Pinkney 
see the book, Saying No to Power: Autobiography 
of a 20th Century Activist and Thinker, by 
William Mandel [Introduction by Howard Zinn]. 
(Click here 
to read excerpts from the book) Click here 
to contact Mr. Pinkney.

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