[Pnews] Political Prisoner, Rev. Pinkney, was Right: It’s Comin’ to Your City Next!

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Apr 28 10:56:23 EDT 2016


  Rev. Pinkney was Right: It’s Comin’ to Your City Next!

by Polly Hughes <http://www.counterpunch.org/author/pollhugh0900/>, 
April 28, 2016

    Little bitty Benton Harbor was the testing ground. It was the
    testing ground to see what they can get away with….It’s comin’ to
    your city next, whether you like it or not.

    /— /Rev. Edward Pinkney <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfWl3XNFeEc>

What do Michigan emergency managers, water rights, illegal corporate 
land acquisitions, and gentrification have to do with political prisoner 
Rev. Edward Pinkney? Rev. Pinkney has been fighting against injustice 
for decades in the small town of Benton Harbor, Michigan. But, his 
activism has reached far beyond Benton Harbor, the first city in 
Michigan to fall under the control of an emergency financial manager 
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBzkuiD6LD0> (EFM) in 2010.

In July 2014, Pinkney led a defiant protest of approximately 10,000 in 
Detroit and walked through the city turning the water back on at 
residences. The bankruptcy of Detroit had begun and the city had been 
shutting off water to families who hadn’t paid their water bills for 
even just one month. Everything that the Emergency Financial Manager Law 
(Public Act 4), by order of the governor’s office, was hitting Detroit 
with had already occurred in Benton Harbor. Pinkney knew 
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4k4r7czxfk> what was coming to Detroit 
and other cities across the nation*. *

While Pinkney skillfully organized with activists against the debacle in 
Detroit, he also led the charge against Whirlpool Corporation 
(headquartered in Benton Harbor), decrying the loss of jobs outsourced 
by Whirlpool and the illegal acquisition of public land by Whirlpool 
front groups to build a 5-star golf resort and multi-million-dollar 
condominiums that would serve as a Lake Michigan playground for the 
wealthy elite. Benton Harbor residents, of whom over 90% are Black and 
nearly half live in poverty according to official statistics 
<http://census.gov/>, suffered gentrification via lost jobs, the closing 
of locally owned stores replaced by artisan shops along the lakefront, 
and a corrupt justice system that incarcerated many poor, and 
particularly minority, Benton Harbor residents for minor infractions. 
Pinkney would not back down, would not be silent, would not stop 
organizing support for people’s rights.

In October 2015, news broke that Flint’s municipal water had poisoned 
unknown thousands and Gov. Snyder has been at the forefront of the 
scandal ever since. Normally, we would expect Pinkney to once again be 
leading in organizing for the needs and rights of the poor and 
marginalized. Instead Pinkney sits in Marquette Branch Prison in the 
Upper Peninsula suffering abuse, intimidation, and racism by 
correctional officers.

Pinkney’s been imprisoned before, once for quoting the Bible 
<http://www.bhbanco.org/search?q=quoting+the+bible>. He was also placed 
on probation after being falsely accused of forging absentee ballots in 
the recall of Benton Harbor city commissioner Glen Yarbrough and 
convicted by an all-white jury. Roadblocks such as these would have 
stopped the average activist, but Pinkney has never stopped fighting for 
justice. So, what led to his current incarceration 
Here’s a timeline of events:

November 2013: Pinkney and another petitioner turned in almost twice the 
number of signatures required to hold a recall election of James 
Hightower, token Whirlpool mayor.

April 2014: A Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team surrounded 
Pinkney’s home with orders to bring him in dead or alive. He was charged 
with 5 felony counts of changing dates on petitions.

Oct 2014: Found guilty by an all-white jury after numerous witnesses 
supported Pinkney’s innocence with testimonies against the prosecution. 
One juror perjured herself, and the judge and prosecutor both instructed 
the jury that it could convict Pinkney with no direct evidence.

Dec 2014: Pinkney sentenced to 2.5-10 years and denied release on bond 
pending appeal.

August 2015: Pinkney denied bond pending appeal in a 2-1 decision in 
state court of appeals.

Sept 2015: Appeal was filed by Pinkney Attorney followed up by amicus 
briefs submitted by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)-Michigan 
and the National Lawyers Guild.

Oct 2015: Pinkney abruptly transferred to Marquette Branch Prison, 
almost 500 miles from Benton Harbor, where he endures racism, 
intimidation, and harassment from corrections officers who have written 
false misconduct tickets for minor infractions (recently, Pinkney was 
written up for having a Bible on his bed and for having too much legal 
material). His phone privileges were revoked for six months and he was 
thrown into solitary confinement for six days after a local televised 
news report aired in Marquette.

Rev. Pinkney has been a thorn in the side of Whirlpool Corp. and corrupt 
judicial and government officials from both Berrien County and the state 
of Michigan for many years. Now he awaits the outcome of his appeals 
hearing at 10 a.m. on May 11 at the Appellate Court in Grand Rapids. He 
will not be present, but supporters from across the region are expected 
to attend and hold a press conference afterward. His attorney and the 
ACLU of Michigan will argue the appeal 
The National Lawyers Guild also submitted a friend of the court brief.

Pinkney’s supporters have been vigilant in their support of this case 
which has received attention around the country, even internationally. 
But the corruption runs deep from Berrien County to state officials. 
Despite press conferences, requests for meetings, and phone calls, 
Michigan Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington has refused 
to seriously address 
the harassment and false misconduct tickets at Marquette Branch Prison. 
Michigan Governor Snyder has ignored requests to pardon Pinkney.

Meanwhile, Snyder and others have poisoned the entire city of Flint, but 
those most responsible for this genocide remain in office. Flint is 
still reeling from the devastating effects of lead-contaminated water on 
residents, especially children, and is still fighting for clean water, 
replacement of corroded pipes, care for long-term health consequences, 
and for those responsible to be held accountable. Detroit continues to 
fight against water shutoffs, the state’s takeover of public schools, 
the selling off of public property, and more. Justice has not been 
delivered to any poor, predominantly Black city in Michigan despite the 
evidence, the press, and the attention from notable celebrities: Michael 
Moore, Erin Brockovich, and Rachel Maddow 
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEU5UK0ksA8> to name a few.

The attempts to isolate and silence Pinkney have been severe: sentenced 
up to 10 years, phone rights revoked without provocation, transported 
500 miles away from family and supporters, threatened by corrections 
officers daily, unfounded charges of misconduct, denial of proper 
medical care, tampering of mail from legal counsel, and the list goes on 

Why have such extreme measures been taken against 67-year-old husband, 
father, minister, and community organizer Rev. Edward Pinkney? Because 
he is the champion, the heart, the ace-in-the-hole for anyone fighting 
for equality and justice 
for poor and disenfranchised Americans.

Rev. Edward Pinkney must be freed now because he is innocent, because he 
is in danger, and because his presence is sorely needed to help lead the 
fight for justice for the people.

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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