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Thursday, 12 February 2015 00:00

Rev. Pinkney Now in Marquette Prison; Hearing Feb 24th at 1pm in St. Joseph, Michigan

Written by Diane Bukowski | Voice of Detroit

World-renowned political prisoner Rev. Edward Pinkney has been sent to Michigan’s Marquette Branch Prison, isolated in the Upper Peninsula. It houses maximum-security inmates at Level 5 along with minimum security Level 1 prisoners, the Level to which Rev. Pinkney has been assigned.

As he awaits a hearing in St. Joseph, Michigan on four pre-sentencing motions, scheduled for Feb. 24, 2015 in front of Judge Sterling Schrock, Rev. Pinkney has sent the following up-beat message to his supporters.

“I am now in Marquette prison over 15 hours from wife & family, sitting in prison for a crime that was never committed. Judge Schrock and [prosecutor] Mike Sepic both admitted there was no evidence against me but now I sit in prison facing 30 months. Schrock actually stated that he wanted to make an example out of me. (to scare Benton Harbor residents even more…) ONLY IN AMERICA.”

Rev. Pinkney, who is 66 years old, is a long-time people’s advocate, in particular for the majority Black, impoverished and disproportionately incarcerated population of tiny Benton Harbor, Michigan, the first to fall under Michigan’s hated Emergency Manager Law, Public Act 436.

He is serving a term of 2.5 to 10 years on five counts of “forgery under the Michigan election law.” There was no concrete evidence presented during his pre-trial exam or his trial that he changed dates on five recall petitions directed against Whirlpool-backed Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower. He was convicted by an all-white jury, despite the fact that Berrien County is 15.2 percent Black, on Oct. 3, and sentenced by Judge Schrock on Dec. 15.

The petitions cited Hightower’s backing by the Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool Corporation, which has closed all its local plants and taken over large swaths of the city’s public land. A Michigan State Police forensics lab technician testified twice that there was no way to tell who had changed any dates.

“I now have an army to help fight Berrien County,” Pinkney continued. “When I arrived at Jackson state prison on Dec. 15, I met several hundred people from Detroit, Flint, Kalamazoo, & Grand Rapids. Some people recognized me. There was an outstanding amount of support given by the prison inmates. When I was transported to Marquette Prison it took two days. The prisoners knew who I was. One of the guards looked me up on the internet and said, ‘Who would believe Berrien County is this racist.’

“Tell everyone they can jpay.com me as I will write them back. We must continue doing things to keep the pressure on this corrupt system. The conditions are impossible for a person to understand unless you are here — the inhuman conditions, the transportation is another money maker.

This is big business. Nobody will understand what this country has become. We are living in a time where the people must take control or they will crush us. Keep the struggle alive. Who would believe the prison system is a money maker. The prison system transportation system is how the prison is stealing money from the people, plus the food is not really food. The clothes are nothing but summer clothing, the shoes are rubber and the sox you must wear three pairs as if they were one.

(VOD: Marquette prisoners demonstrated against MDOC food, now provided by the notorious Aramark Corporation, on Nov. 12, 2014. Maggots have been found in food at a number of MDOC facilities. See Free Press story links below).

“We must make this struggle a victory for all who are victims of the economic crisis in every city, town, state and the country. We must boycott, boycott, boycott all Whirlpool products.”

JPay allows Michigan prisoners to send and receive emails and photos for a cost of 1 cent per page. It is also used to send money to prisoners to allow them to purchase food and health products within the prison. To sign up for JPay to communicate with Rev. Pinkney, go to https://www.jpay.com/login.aspx. New users must first input the prisoner’s ID number. Rev. Pinkney’s number is 294671, then enter information regarding their email addresses and method of payment.

Rev. Pinkney can also receive letters at the following address: Rev. Edward Pinkney, #294671, 1960 U.S. Hwy. 41 South Marquette, MI 49855.

Motions filed Nov. 11, 2014, well prior to Pinkney’s sentencing, are scheduled to be heard Tues. Feb. 24, 2015 at 1 p.m. in the Berrien County courthouse, at 811 Port Street, St. Joseph, MI 49085. Rev. Pinkney’s defense committee is asking his supporters to turn out en masse. Rev. Pinkney himself should be present at the hearing, where he will be represented by Attorney Tat Parish, according to his appeals attorney Tim Holloway. According to state records, Holloway earlier filed appellate motions to quash the charges and to stay any verdict pending appeal, after Rev. Pinkney’s preliminary exam. Both motions were denied at the Appeals and Supreme Court levels. If Judge Schrock denies the new motions, an appeal should be filed with the State Court of Appeals.

The hearing was originally scheduled for Jan. 15, 2015, and should actually have been held prior to Rev. Pinkney’s sentencing. It is clear that Judge Schrock is deliberately delaying this process.

The motions include one for a directed verdict, which calls on the judge to overturn the jury decision and find that there was no evidence to convict him, a motion for a new trial based on the violation of Rev. Pinkney’s right to impartial jurors, and a motion for bond pending appeal. Among other issues, the motions cite improper charging in the case, based on an Oct. 23, 21o4 Court of Appeals decision in People v. Hall, which found that election petition violations are misdemeanors, not felonies, and the presence of juror Gail Freehling on the panel that convicted Rev. Pinkney.

Freehling is well-acquainted with the County Clerk, Sharon Tyler, a key witness, as well as other parties seeking Pinkney’s conviction, and did not disclose those facts during voir dire.

“My husband is the only voice in the community for the people,” Mrs. Dorothy Pinkney told VOD earlier. “It is so obvious how they pushed this trial even without evidence, in an attempt to silence him. He wants people to continue the battle to free Rev. Pinkney, and to boycott Whirlpool, Harbor Shores, and the Senior PGA in Benton Harbor. I am holding up, holding on to my faith and beliefs, strengthened by the support out there. I still remain hopeful that my husband will be released soon.”

Pinkney supporter Cornell Squires said, “The fact that they sent Rev. Pinkney all the way up to Marquette Prison just shows how vicious this system is.” Pinkney has been assigned a Level One clearance, the lowest-security designation, while Marquette is a maximum security prison.

Aside from the travel distance to Marquette, many family members of those incarcerated in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula prisons complain that their loved ones are subjected to blatantly racist treatment by guards, and even torture, largely because of their isolation.

Another Pinkney supporter runs a website at https://freepinkney.wordpress.com/ which includes extensive information on his case.

Pinkney supporter Dan Buhrdorf of Lincoln, Nebraska, said he was able to raise Rev. Pinkney’s situation on the Alex Jones Show, which has millions of listeners, and encouraged others to undertake similar efforts. That show can be heard at https://soundcloud.com/worldausterityreport/buhrdorf-drops-pinkney-on-jones.

The website for Rev. Pinkney’s own organization, Black Autonomy Network of Community Organizations (BANCO), is at http://www.bhbanco.org/. It includes a PayPal donation button to send badly needed funds for Pinkney’s legal defense, or they can be mailed to BANCO, 1940 Union Avenue, Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022.

Link to original article from Voice of Detroit

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Meet the Hosts

Rev. Rodney Sadler

Dr. Sadler's work in the community includes terms as a board member of the N.C. Council of Churches, Siegel Avenue Partners, and Mecklenburg Ministries, and currently he serves on the boards of Union Presbyterian Seminary, Loaves and Fishes, the Hispanic Summer Program, and the Charlotte Chapter of the NAACP. His activism includes work with the Community for Creative Non-Violence in D.C., Durham C.A.N., H.E.L.P. Charlotte, and he has worked organizing clergy with and developing theological resources for the Forward Together/Moral Monday Movement in North Carolina. Rev. Sadler is the managing editor of the African American Devotional Bible, associate editor of the Africana Bible, and the author of Can a Cushite Change His Skin? An Examination of Race, Ethnicity, and Othering in the Hebrew Bible. He has published articles in Interpretation, Ex Audito, Christian Century, the Criswell Theological Review, and the Journal of the Society of Biblical Literature and has essays and entries in True to Our Native Land, the New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, the Westminster Dictionary of Church History, Light against Darkness, and several other publications. Among his research interests are the intersection of race and Scripture, the impact of our images of Jesus for the perpetuation of racial thought in America, the development of African American biblical interpretation in slave narratives, the enactment of justice in society based on biblical imperatives, and the intersection of religion and politics.

Rev. Rodney Sadler

Co - Chair - People Demanding Action
North Carolina Forward Together/Moral Monday Movem
Radio Host: Politics of Faith - Wednesday @ 11 am

People Power with Ernie Powell

Ernie Powell has been involved in public policy, progressive campaigns and grassroots efforts since the mid 1960's. He worked as a boycott organizer with the United Farm Workers from 1968 until 1973. He then became a community organizer in Santa Monica, California involved in affordable housing advocacy while working with others in laying the foundation for one of the most progressive local rent control measures in the country. He organized on behalf of environmental and coastal access and preservation issues in California as well. Beginning in 1993 he served as Advocacy Representative and later as Manager of Advocacy for AARP in California working on national and state issues. He left AARP in 2012 to work as Field Director for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare in Washington D.C. In late 2013 he returned to California and started a consulting business. He is a consultant with Social Security Works and is organizing groups nationally to fight for the protection and expansion of Social Security. He also consults with the California Long Term Care Ombudsman Association on issue impacting nursing home reform. He is a frequent author for Zocalo Public Square having just authored a piece on Social Security's 80th Birthday about the early impact of the Townsend Plan in building toward the passage of Social Security. Ernie has hosted two radio shows - the "Grassroots Corner" on "We Act Radio" in Washington D.C.and "the Campaign with Ernie Powell" at Radio Titans in Los Angeles. His focus for over 25 years has been on public policy issues impacting older Americans. He is a nationally recognized expert on grassroots organizing and campaigns. He is 66 years old and resides in Los Angeles, Ca.

Ernie Powell

Radio Host
Social Security Works
Los Angeles

Radio Host - Agitator Radio

Robert Dawkins is the founder of SAFE Coalition, North Carolina located in Charlotte, North Carolina. SAFE Coalition NC is a grassroots community coalition working to build public trust and accountability in NC law enforcement. We believe that critical dialogue, citizen oversight and legislative action are required to design a safe, accountable, fair and equitable system of criminal justice in our state.

Robert Dawkins

Safe Coalition, North Carolina
Charlotte, North Carolina

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