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August, 2005

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Whirlpool Has Sucked the Life Out of Benton Harbor

By Rev. Edward Pinkney

Editor’s note: Benton Harbor, Michigan, a town with an unemployment rate of 70 percent, is plagued by poverty and police brutality, and by the arrogance of the Whirlpool Corporation. Plans by the city, Whirlpool and the developers are under way to turn the town into an expensive vacation resort which will have no room for the current residents. Community leaders, led by the Rev. Edward Pinkney of the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO), have been in the streets warning the community, putting a spotlight on the government-corporate collusion and police terror which tramples on people’s democratic rights. When voters recalled a city commissioner who is backed by Whirlpool, Pinkney was arrested April 18 on trumped-up “vote fraud” charges. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison. The community is not taking this attack on its leaders lying down. The article below was submitted by Rev. Pinkney.

The Bible teaches us to first take care of ourselves and then attend to the organization of God, which the Holy Ghost has made you overseer of. The ideology is simple. The reality is, if you don’t take care of yourself first, when you get into trouble the organization may not be able to take care of you.

I have never seen a more graphic illustration of this text than I learned while riding one of the airlines. It is the custom of the fight attendants to get up and announce as the airplane begins to ascend that, should it start to depressurize, you are to reach up and pull the oxygen mask down from the roof. She said to the parent or leader that, should this unlikely event occur, be sure to pull the mask down and put it on your face first and then attend to your child or organization. The reason she says the priority is you first is not to say you are more valuable than the child or the organization, but to say that, if a crisis should occur, you will be able to help the child or the organization, but the child or the organization my not be able to help you. Be careful leaders, that you don’t put the mask on the wrong face. The city of Benton Harbor has placed the mask on the wrong face.

What the resident of Benton Harbor has done is placed the mask on the wrong face. The bloodsuckers — Whirlpool Corp. is a bloodsucker — they have sucked the life out of the Benton Harbor residents, buying buildings for less than market value, operating a billion dollar corporation almost tax free by using the city and the people of Benton Harbor. Whirlpool and Cornerstone Alliance, a subdivision of Whirlpool, own more property than the city of Benton Harbor. Cornerstone alliance has taken over 70 percent of the lake front property and land. The goal is to take control of the remaining 30 percent and change the name of the city of Benton Harbor to Harbor Town.

The Berrien County Courthouse: bloodsuckers. Benton Harbor has the highest rate of residents in prison per-capita for non-violent crime than anywhere in the country. Berrien County has the highest rate of juveniles tried as adults in the state. The people of Benton Harbor have survived abuse and forced confessions, tribunals without lawyers, isolations and humiliation in the Berrien County court system. It is hard to believe that in the year 2005, we have a county in Michigan with a legal system this antiquated and this racist. What is harder to believe is that no one at the state level is taking any action to remedy the situation.

The Berrien County law enforcement agencies: bloodsuckers. There have been five murders by the Berrien County law enforcement agencies that we know of. McGinnis and Rudy was murdered by the same officer. He was then promoted to the Department of Corrections for his fine work on blacks. Rice was murdered by a Benton Harbor police officer. Terrance Shurn (T-Shirt) and Arthur Partee were murdered by Benton Township police. The report inside Benton Harbor is that the unsolved murders of four women was done by a police officer.

Under former chief of police Sam Harris’ watch, there was more than 30 citizen police brutality complaints in one week. The complaints were destroyed. We have placed the mask on the wrong face.

I have a dream that one day even the city of Benton Harbor and the county of Berrien, a city, county, and a state swelling with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.


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