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July, 2005

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Benton Harbor Justice Rally A Success!

By Libby Hunter

BENTON HARBOR, Michigan - Once a month, in the city of Benton Harbor, where justice is almost unheard of, and the promise of the Constitution is but a dream, crowds gather to hear speakers talk about the social injustice in Benton Harbor, the state, and the country. For an activist, it feels like there's now a place to go on a regular basis to listen to people talk about problems, solutions, opinions, and to network. The speakers are inspiring and exciting to hear.

Benton Harbor Community Forums, sometimes called Rallies, are held once a month. The June 25 rally brought people from Chicago, Detroit, Lansing, Ann Arbor, Albion, St. Joseph, and Flint, and New York. Dorothy Pinkney opened the afternoon with a prayer, and reminded us that we are in a war. Rev. Carl Brown said that the entire state and country is witness to what's going on in Berrien County.

In recent months, community leaders urged voters to recall a city commissioner who is backed by corporate interests. When the recall was successful, Rev. Edward Pinkney was arrested April 18 on trumped-up "vote fraud" charges. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison. The community is demanding an official investigation of the justice system in Berrien County.

Carl E. Person, a New York anti-trust attorney, spoke about offsetting oppression by elected officials by filing lawsuits against government agencies and major corporations to get back money they are stealing from the poor.

Marian Kramer, from the Michigan Welfare Rights Union, said: "Highland Park (a Detroit suburb) is run by an appointed, not elected, manager - that's the plan for all cities. Water is the next gold. It is being privatized for the benefit of those who will make maximum profit."

Claire McClinton, from the Poverty Round Table in Flint, said: "We've got to educate people on how the system works. When a police officer strikes a person that is the state against the people."

Roderick Casey from Ypsilanti is circulating a petition for juries to be comprised of at least six people (50 percent) who are the same color as the defendant.

I reminded everyone to leave the Rally and tell 10 people to stand up and fight. The recall election was good for one reason: those in power now see that Benton Harbor residents can get organized and take action. This is a real war.

To help with this effort, please send a postcard or letter to: The Attorney Grievance Commission, 243 W. Congress, Detroit, MI, 48226 or call 313-961-6585. Request a complete investigation into the activities of Berrien County Prosecutor James Cherry in relation to the recall election trial. The concern is whether Cherry fabricated evidence. "I have been told the Attorney Grievance Commission would never investigate this case because it is about a black defendant and a white prosecutor," said Rev. Pinkney.

The next Community Forum is Saturday July 30, at 1p.m., at the Benton Harbor Public Library, 215 Wall Street. For information, call Rev. Pinkney at 269-925-0001. E-mail: banco9342@sbcglobal.net. Web site: bhbanco.blogspot.com.

Send desperately needed tax-deductible donations for attorney fees to BANCO, 1940 Union St., Benton Harbor, MI 49022. The T-shirt "Benton Harbor's Most Wanted" will be mailed to you for a donation of $20 or more. Make check payable to BANCO. For tax deductions write "legal defense" in the memo field.

This article originated in the People's Tribune
PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654, 773-486-3551,
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