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Rev. Edward Pinkney.
PHOTO /brett jelinek

By Attorney Hugh “Buck” Davis

  The Berrien County Circuit Court finally acknowledged Reverend Edward Pinkney’s victory in the Court of Appeals on his “biblical prophecy” probation violation, but continued draconian conditions of probation amounting to house arrest, even though those conditions were not in the original probation order and no notice or due process hearing had been held on them.  As the National Lawyers Guild and the ACLU prepared to appeal those conditions, Judge Butzbaugh “remembered” that they had not been a part of the original probation order and modified them on his own, while maintaining the prohibition against Pinkney coming within 1,000 feet of the courthouse, the judge or his home, as well as prohibiting him from speaking in a “demeaning” manner about the City of Benton Harbor, or its officials.  Doug Mulkoff is going to appeal those conditions
     When Kelly Flint, acting as Pinkney’s clemency counsel, called the Governor’s office recently, she was informed that Governor Granholm had denied Pinkney’s clemency petition on July 20, 2009.  The Parole Board claimed that Pinkney had been informed.  He had not.  He was in prison and his wife was always at home.  No letter came from the Governor or the Parole Board denying commutation.
     Regardless, we are eligible to reapply in April 2010, and Pinkney plans to file again. If Pinkney fails in his pending application to the Supreme Court on the underlying violation and/or subsequent habeas corpus petition, he could renew the clemency process in the form of a request for a pardon.               
     Pinkney is now free to travel. He will speak in Detroit on January 18, at 12 noon, at the Martin Luther King Day Rally and March for Jobs, Peace and Justice at Central United Methodist Church, 23 East Adams at Woodward (contact 313-702-5558).

By Joseph Peery

Joseph Peery: Dorothy, what happens when young people are arrested in Benton Harbor?:

Dorothy Pinkney: They tell them to plead guilty and you’ll just be fined. By hearing this they get excited and think “I can do this, I can say I’m guilty and I’ll go home.” But it doesn’t happen like that. It’s not set up that way. The powers that be know that the poverty level in the city is so high and there are not many jobs. So when they give these young African American guys their jail sentences, they  know they cannot afford to pay their sentence. So what do they do? Go to jail. Then the jail becomes overcrowded. I’ve seen so many mothers, wives, girlfriends, packed into the Berrien County Jail just to visit their boyfriends, their husbands, their fathers. It was too much to handle. I didn’t know it was this extreme.

JP: Many families don’t have a bread winner at home. And during winter, there’s a lot of homes that don’t have water or gas. Can you speak to this.

Dorothy: You’re just adding misery to people’s lives. It’s like you take a nail and hammer and you hit that nail. It’s going to pierce the wood, but you keep nailing and hitting and it goes deeper and deeper. There’s so much poverty. The city is being drained.The government doesn’t care. Why do you keep beating someone down when people are saying “we can’t take any more.” Instead of helping, you’re steady nailing deeper and deeper.

JP: What do you feel people in other cities need to do?

Dorothy: I think we can all come together and unite as one, fight for one particular thing, get that accomplished, and then go to the next thing. It’s a slow process but we can do it. It’s never too late.


     It is well known in the African-American community of Benton Harbor that oppressive racism exists at Whirlpool Corporation. One employee says, “Racism is so thick people are afraid to breathe.” Whirlpool has been sued many times by employees for workplace racism. In one case white employees sued Whirlpool, saying they were retaliated against for friendship with Blacks, that it was commonplace to hear racist jokes and that the supervisor wouldn’t do anything.The Court said such behavior is illegal.
     In a recent incident, a supervisor acted out his hostility in writing a racist letter with over 25 points, and placing it on a Black employee’s desk. It was reported to management but has not been dealt with although the employee reporting the incident was fired. Below we reprint excerpts from that letter:
     “You know you are from Benton Harbor
* When people think you “talk country.”
* When you say “Ben Harba” instead of Benton Harbor
* When you say “Don’t nobody know where Benton Harbor is.”
* When you think Apple B’s and Steak-n-Shake are the best sit down restaurants to eat.
* When you watch MTV in the morning “CUZ BET is not on yet!”
* When you ran from the security guards “CUZ you just got caught skippin.”
* When you are black you make up random words like I did.”

Fighting The Corporations A new booklet published by the People’s Tribune discusses the victories and next steps in the struggle against the corporations in Benton Harbor. A battle has been won, and this should be celebrated, but there is still a war going on. Will America have prosperity and democracy, or live in poverty under the heel of open corporate power? Will the American people move to take over the corporations before they take over society?  Place your orders now. Send $3 for each pamphlet or order 10 for  $20 to People’s Tribune, PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654-3524.



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