[Ppnews] Benton Harbor - the case of Rev. Edward Pinkney

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Aug 11 10:53:23 EDT 2008

Editors Note: The following are excerpts from Attorney Hugh M. Davis' 
talk at a Pinkney Defense Fund meeting in Detroit, Michigan, July '08:

This case arises out of the poorest city in Michigan. Its most 
valuable land is sought by corporate interests. By virtue of their 
control of the county, they control the courts. The parade of people 
going before the criminal courts are almost all poor, and 
disproportionately Black; although we cannot ignore what they do to 
the Hispanic and poor white community. The thrust is to physically 
remove and destroy families through the use of the criminal justice 
system. Every person they can put in jail; every person whose voting 
rights they can revoke with a felony conviction; every person they 
can cause to lose their job by putting them on probation; every 
person that they can cause to lose the ability to pay for basic 
necessities through imposing ruinous court costs and probation is all 
part of the process. In the 1960s, it was called Negro removal. In 
Bosnia, it was called ethnic cleansing. It could be called genocide 
the removal of the minority population for the purpose of the 
redevelopment of the land. That's what's happening in Benton Harbor 
and the foremost leader of the resistance is Rev. Edward Pinkney.

The probation officers in the county tried to find out everywhere 
Pinkney has gone and everything he has said or written. With his life 
under such extraordinary scrutiny and having him on tether, if they 
could get him on anything, they would have. They didn't and they 
can't. So, what did they do? They took his writings about the Bible 
in the People's Tribune and decided it was a violation of his 
probation. The first claim was that he called the courts in the 
county racist, corrupt and ignorant. He had been doing that for a 
long time. Nothing new. And even the judge could not bring himself to 
claim this was not protected speech under the First Amendment. The 
judge then read a paragraph where the judge himself was personally 
mentioned and where Pinkney quoted Deuteronomy about what God shall 
visit upon the iniquitous. The judge determined that this was a 
potential threat. Then he disqualified himself and the case was 
assigned to the reputedly most notorious racist on the bench (no 
small honor), the Honorable Dennis Wiley.

So we undertook a campaign. Pinkney spent seven months in the most 
horrendous conditions inside the Berrien County jail. We knew that if 
this case ever came before a judge of that bench, they would not only 
revoke his probation, but they could put him in prison. Pinkney bore 
it heroically. Pinkney, under continuous attack inside the jail, 
never stopped fighting, never lost hope. We went before Judge Wiley. 
The prosecution took the November copy of the People's Tribune, 
entered it into evidence and never called a witness. We produced an 
eminent theologian who explained that biblical prophesy of the wrath 
of God upon the iniquitous was not a personal threat, an invitation 
of violence or a true threat under the Constitution of the U.S. Rev. 
Pinkney testified that he believes that sin will receive retribution. 
It is protected activity under the First Amendment. But he was found 
guilty of violating his probation. Then Wiley gave him every minute 
he could, doubling the recommendation of the prosecutor, doubling the 
recommendation of the probation department, 3-10 years in prison.

This judge actually said on the record that 'I believe that Pinkney 
did not intend to threaten the judge, but he has a direct connection 
to God.' He might. But, if it is true, Pinkney will still have that 
divine connection in prison and the wicked are no safer. So what's 
the point? To remove the leader of the resistance from the community 
as long as possible, regardless of the shame that it will certainly 
bring down on Berrien County? It is ridiculous and we believe that it 
will become a national issue. But all the people that hear about it 
nationally are not necessarily going to organize, write letters and 
fundraise. That's our job.

The ACLU has agreed to take the case as Rev. Pinkney's direct 
representatives. On the original conviction, the National Lawyer's 
Guild has filed in the Michigan Court of Appeals a 115 page brief 
(that's 65 pages more than the limit) raising 13 arguments about how 
Pinkney's conviction was unlawful. The Court of Appeals accepted the 
entire brief. The prosecution will reply in September. Second, we 
filed with the Governor's office a Petition for Clemency, which is an 
area where political action, letters of support, etc. can make a 
difference. The more strength we build, the more possible it will be 
to persuade Jennifer Granholm to grant clemency or vacate the 
conviction. We will also file a motion for bond pending appeal.


* *

REV. EDWARD PINKNEY: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/624471377

re: Harbor Shores: "Perhaps some of you do not own a foot of ground.
Remember then, that this is your park, it belongs to you," said John Klock,
a local newspaper publisher, when he gave the land to the city of 
Benton Harbor in 1917 in honor of his daughter.

Please send letters or postcards supporting Rev. Pinkney's 
application to the Parole Board. These are extremely important.
Text can be as simple as: "I support Rev. Pinkney's application for pardon."
Michigan Department of Corrections
Office of the Parole Board
Pardons and Commutations Coordinator
Post Office Box 30003
Lansing, Michigan 48909

Gov. Granholm, PO Box 30013, Lansing, MI 48909 517-373-3400

Checks to BANCO for Pinkney's legal fees (tax-deductible):
1940 Union St.
Benton Harbor, MI 49022

BOYCOTT WHIRLPOOL &SUBSIDIARIES (Amana, Estate, Gladiator Garage 
Works, Insperience, Jenn-Air, KitchenAid, Magic Chef, Maytag, Roper, 
Acros, Inglis, Bauknecht, Brastemp, Admiral, IKEA appliances, some Kenmore)

<http://bhbanco.blogspot.com/>bhbanco.blogspot.com (comments by 
Berrien County "power players" must be seen to be believed)

NEW ADDRESS write to Rev. P.
Hiawatha Correctional Facility
Rev. Edward Pinkney #294671
4533 Industrial Park Dr.
Kincheloe, MI 49786-0001 (anything is appreciated: articles-serious 
or fun, letters about you, questions, short notes.

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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