Thursday, August 07, 2008

Urgent Appeal For the Pinkney Family From the Global Women's Strike

Global Women’s Strike
Crossroads Women’s Center, PO Box 86681, Los Angeles CA 90086

Dear Friends,

We are making an urgent appeal for contributions to go to the Pinkney family, grassroots leaders in the predominately Black city of Benton Harbor, Michigan.

In a major miscarriage of justice, the Rev. Edward Pinkney was sentenced to 3-10 years in prison for breaking parole after being found guilty by an all white jury with election fraud. He was criminalized because he angered Benton Harbor’s power elite by not only being outspoken against racism, environmental degradation and corruption, but also organized a successful recall campaign against a city official closely aligned with developers (see attached Action Alert for background and actions you can take).

The Pinkney’s have had to survive on the limited income of Mrs. Pinkney. They are at risk of losing their modest home and must pay Berrien County for reimbursement for trial transcript, court cost & fees totaling over $9000: your help is urgently needed now.

Rev. Pinkney’s wife Mrs. Dorothy Pinkney, has worked tirelessly and lovingly in the painstaking and exhausting behind-the-scenes work of going back and forth to jail and now prison, trying to make sure that her husband receives humane treatment in a brutal and filthy environment, while at the same time organizing for his appeal, trying to keep the family home together and put food on the table. Mrs. Pinkney has rarely been in the public eye, yet it is women like Mrs. Pinkney who are most active in justice campaigns, but whose hidden work is counted on but rarely acknowledged.

Conditions in BH continue to be dire. The land grab Rev. Pinkney was fighting, the conversion of 22 acres from BH’s only public park on Lake Michigan to an expensive golf course has just been approved by the National Park Service. Expensive homes are being built on the surrounding lake and river front properties, homes out of reach for the Benton Harbor’s Black majority whose average income is $8,000 per year. “The project does not include Blacks,” says Mrs. Dorothy Pinkney.

Meanwhile, BH black residents are subjected to old fashioned Jim Crow type racism: A court observer was arrested for having a friendly conversation with a juror, then a cross was burned in front of her home, and she was found guilty of jury tampering despite evidence to the contrary. Intimidation against the Black poor majority in Benton Harbor is rampant but ignored by the press and national civil rights organizations and elected officials.

Your contributions will go for basic survival of Rev. Pinkney’s family and also go towards his defense. Also Mrs. Pinkney is in need of a lap top computer and to be on line. We want to honor and support the work of the Pinkney’s. Join us in making a commitment to ensure that the Pinkney home is not lost and that Mrs. Pinkney is not left in dire financial straits. Please be as generous as you can! Your help is needed now!

Margaret Prescod
Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike

Checks payable to “Global Women’s Strike’’, (note on check for the Pinkney fund) PO Box 86681, Los Angeles CA 90086.

(If you would like your donation to be tax-deductible, make your check payable to “Women in Dialogue” & it will be used for exclusively educational and charitable purposes, as defined by the IRS.) Every cent you send will go directly to Mrs. Pinkney.


Miscarriage of Justice

Rev. Pinkney sentenced to 3-10 years in prison

Rev. Edward Pinkney

Background: In a major miscarriage of justice, on June 26th, 2008 the Rev. Edward Pinkney, a grassroots leader in Benton Harbor, Michigan was sentenced to 3-10 years in prison. He was charged with election fraud, because he angered the power elite by being outspoken against racism and corruption, and leading a successful recall election against a city official closely aligned with developers who had their eye on Benton Harbor’s river and lake front property. The response by the power elite to this grassroots success was swift and brutal. They threw out the recall election results, reinstated the official in question and moved to criminalize Rev. Pinkney. He is now in prison serving his 3-10 year sentence. He is on a hunger strike, and will only drink liquids.

Whirlpool Corporation has its world headquarters in Benton Harbor It is 94% Black with an average income of $8,000. St. Joseph, across the river, is nearly all white, with $41,000 average income. The people of BH have had to confront racism, corruption, cross burnings and more.

2003: Police killing of a young Black man led to a major urban rebellion in Benton Harbor. National civil rights leaders and press descended on Benton Harbor, but quickly left. Nationally known civil rights organizations left because BH residents could not pay to become members of their organizations. Major media have not covered Benton Harbor since.

2003: Rev. Pinkney, Mrs. Pinkney and others in the Black Autonomy Network of Community Organizations (BANCO) organized the regular monitoring of courthouse proceedings, pickets of the local newspaper, and openly named those involved in corrupt and racist practices. When the CEO of Whirlpool announced a “development plan” for 465 riverfront acres in Benton Harbor, Rev. Pinkney and BANCO loudly opposed.

2005: Rev Pinkney was charged with election fraud for allegedly buying votes for $5 for the successful recall of a corrupt City Commissioner, and being in possession of absentee ballots.

2007: An all-white jury found Rev. Pinkney guilty despite lack of evidence or credible witnesses. He was sentenced to 1 year in jail and 5 years probation; he was to serve his time under house arrest.

Dec. 2007: after serving over 6 months under house arrest on a tether for which he had to pay $84 a month, Rev Pinkney was charged with breaking parole and taken to jail for writing an article were he quoted the Bible in criticizing the judge who sentenced him. The judge considered the quote a threat.

June 2008: after attending what was to be a hearing on the charge related to his breaking parole, in an unprecedented shock to all, Rev Pinkney was sentenced 3-10 years in prison on the original charge of election fraud (he had originally been sentenced to one year in jail and 5 years probation).

What You Can Do

Send letters or postcards supporting his pardon application stating “I support Rev. Pinkney’s application for pardon.” to the Parole Board, Michigan Department of Corrections, Office of the Parole Board Pardons and Commutations Coordinator Post Office Box 30003, Lansing, Michigan 48909

Write to Rev. Pinkney c/o Charles E. Egeler Reception & Guidance Ctr., Rev. Edward Pinkney #294671, 3855 Cooper St., Jackson, MI 49201-7517.

Donations urgently needed, send to Mrs. Pinkney 1940 Union St., Benton Harbor MI 49022. Call 269-9025-0001.

Get prominent individuals to sign the petition, write letters, send donations, etc

Contact the Congressional Black Caucus and ask for an immediate investigation into this injustice. Phone 202-226-9776, mail to 2264 Rayburn House Office Bldg, Washington, DC 20515.

Contact your Congressional Representative. Phone number and address call 202-224-3121.

Contact the Senate Judiciary Committee, Washington DC 20510, demanding a full investigation into the Whirlpool takeover of the city of Benton Harbor. Phone 202-224-7703

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