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VOICES FROM BENTON HARBOR, MI
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Protest against Whirlpool’s land grab.

PHOTO Credit/Brett Jelinek (top) &
daymonjhartley .com (bottom)

By Dorothy Pinkney

The Benton Harbor City Commissioners have formed a partnership with Whirlpool, the largest appliance maker in the world. The partnership is to continue developing Benton Harbor and, in the process, to drive the homeless and the residents completely out of the city. The final nail has been placed in the coffin.

Already, the homeless are almost everywhere in the city, in front of you behind you, by the side of you, and behind windows. You can hear them around the corner and see their shadow from far away. You try to avoid looking directly into their eyes and you pretend you do not hear them when they talk to you. You walk around the block to avoid them and you walk faster to leave them behind you. These people that you consider to be zombies are actually human beings. They are just homeless.

Benton Harbor is overwhelmingly poor and majority Black. By their actions, Whirlpool is saying that Black people are criminals, and that they look filthy, Whirlpool does not know what kind of scary things homeless people may do. They fear that the poor will rob the rich who come to Benton Harbor. The solution is to get rid of all Black people from the city of Benton Harbor with the help of the all-Black City Commissioners. Recently, a $50 million tax abatement was approved for Whirlpool’s new $68 million complex in Benton Harbor’s downtown by the commissioners. This tax give-away is in addition to previous million dollar land grabs for the lake front development. It is time the people take a stand not only against Whirlpool, but against the city commissioners.





By Tiffany Henderson

On May 15, 2010, my life changed when my father Eddie Peek (61-year old Black man) was killed by a drunken driver Paige Karsten (21-year-old white female at 2:21 am while Eddie was at work for the Herald Palladium.Since his death, my family and I have had to deal with a prosecuting attorney by the name of Michael Septic that believes (and has said to the victim’s family) that “poor Paige,” the drunken murderer, “has suffered enough.” He has told the victim’s  family that Paige Karsten’s speeding on I-94 with a blood alchol level of 2.17 was not egregious enough to be charged with second degree murder — only because she is white.

In California, a drunken driver was charged with Vehicular Manslaughter or Second Degree Murder for running a stop light and killing the driver. My father was not a famous baseball player but was a long resident of Benton Harbor, a supporter of the community and well known, and loved by many.

When this journey started I had faith that the judicial system would prevail, but now four months later, I pray for a higher justice. In my 37 years of being a Black woman I have been exposed to prejudices of all types but never so blatant, demoralizing and relentless as what the Berrien County Judicial system has exposed, the very system that is supposed to be for the people, all of the people.

My journey will continue and only GOD  knows how it will end and my faith is still strong but my essence has changed. I pray that this tragedy will be the start of a new journey and will change the essence of many for the betterment of minorities in Benton Harbor.
“I have a dream that people here in Benton Harbor will start to stand up. I have a dream that one day we will look forward to taking care of our children. This is something that we can do. All you have to do is do a little bit. I am here to encourage you to protect our children. We have allowed the courthouse to rule the future of our children. We have allowed Whirlpool to come in and do whatever they want to do. We’re going to take this thing to a whole different level.”
“We got to get our stuff together. The opposition is well financed, motivated and filled with hate. ..This generation better exercise your rights or you are going to lose them forever…The 15th Amendment, the right to vote, was ratified by Congress around the time of the Civil War. That is the right to change that which we cannot live with. That is the right to say that if you are not going to represent us the way we want to be represented, get moving. I can find someone to represent our interests. But we have to do this as a whole. Think about it. Put the pieces together. What’s the one thing you know in just about all 50 states happens to you when you are convicted of a crime? You lose your right to vote. Why are those two things connected? Because they know that this is the voice of the underprivileged. Everybody knows the statistic — two million Black men in jail. How many young African American men, how many poor white men are getting felonies everyday while on probation? Millions. And they lose their voice. They lose their ability to change that which affects our community. It is happening by the dozens every day. What does that mean for us? The Fifth and Sixth Amendments are absolutely important to our survival. Make sure that we get a fair trail. Make sure that these young men have adequate representation. Make sure that they are able to call witnesses to their trial. Do you know how you can do this? Go to those courthouses and sit. Make sure that whatever they say that person may have done, they prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Get on those juries and make that promise a reality.”


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This article originated in the People's Tribune
PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654, 800-691-6888
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