Friday, December 26, 2008

Rev. Edward Pinkney Released From Jackson Prison

Rev. Edward Pinkney at Home After Release From Jackson Prison

BANCO leader continues fight against racism in Benton Harbor

by Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor
Pan-African News Wire

BENTON Harbor, MI--Rev. Edward Pinkney, Michigan's political prisoner, has been released from Jackson prison and is presently at home in Benton Harbor.

The Baptist minister was ordered released pending the outcome of his appeal and granted a bond hearing by the Michigan Appeals Court earlier in the month. His hearing before Judge Wiley in Berrien County took place on December 18.

Pinkney, the leader of the Benton Harbor Black Autonomy Network of Community Organizers (BANCO), was convicted by an all-white jury in Berrien County in 2007. The trumped-up vote tampering charges stemmed from a successful recall campaign in Benton Harbor in 2005.

The African-American community, after years of oppression and exploitation, had rose up in rebellion against racism and police repression in 2003. Rev. Pinkney has been an outspoken critic of the local police and judicial system which disproportionately sentences African-Americans to long prison terms.

After his sentencing on May 14, 2007 to one year in prison and five years probation, he was placed on a tether and told not to speak out against racism and injustice in Berrien County, located in the southwest region of Michigan.

Last December 2007, a Berrien County Judge revoked his probation and placed him in jail for writing an article quoting biblical scriptures in his criticism of the legal system in the area. He was later sentenced to 3-10 years in prison for utilizing his right to free speech.

Pinkney's supporters are celebrating his release. The minister had won endorsements from people all over Michigan and throughout the United States.

The Michigan American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argued his appeal before the Michigan court.

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