Rev. Edward Pinkney is a minister in the forefront of the struggle against corporate power and the police state in Benton Harbor, Michigan. He is founder of the Black Autonomy Network Community Outreach (BANCO). BANCO works to defend the poor against corporate power, and to reform the court system in Benton Harbor, a town with 70% unemployment and more people in prison per capita than anywhere in the world. Community struggles involve those against racial profiling, police abuse and unsolved murders of Black residents. In addition, in Benton Harbor, as in many other cities in America, peaceful protests are surrounded with police in riot gear. The police videotape and take pictures of participants as a means of intimidation. Now the county has acquired a vehicle with extraordinary military power. This 20-ton armored vehicle can be used for “terrorist-
Whirlpool is the main corporation that runs Benton Harbor and that influences the city’s decisions. Once a thriving industrial town, today, the Whirlpool corporation is leading a redevelopment effort which is taking over lakefront property deeded to the city, and is displacing the largely jobless community. The plan is to privatize all of Benton Harbor’s 16 parks and outsource all remaining land that Whirlpool does not control. The main parks they want have waterway access which will be part of the effort to turn Benton Harbor into a vacation land for the rich.
More recently, the struggle against Whirlpool has taken the form of resisting an undemocratic state law that put an Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) in charge of Benton Harbor (and other cities in Michigan). The EFM has dictatorial powers and has stripped elected officials of all authority for running the city. This struggle has been documented on the Rachel Maddow television program on MSNBC.
Some years ago, the community exercised their democratic rights in a recall election of a city commissioner backed by the Whirlpool Corporation. After a successful recall election, Rev. Pinkney was arrested for "vote fraud" and convicted by an all-white jury. He later had his probation revoked and was sentenced to 3-10 years for quoting the Biblical admonition from Deuteronomy that "God will punish those who act unjustly against others" in the People's Tribune, a national newspaper based in Chicago. He served almost one year in prison for that charge. A victory for free speech was won when the Michigan Appellate Court overturned this ruling.
Rev. Pinkney travels the country speaking at many venues, including Cornell University, Michigan State University, Michigan University, Washington State University, Western Michigan University, Wayne State University, Laney College in Oakland, California, U.S. Social Forum, Left forum, and many other venues.
For more information please contact Speakers for a New America at 800-691-6888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rev. Edward Pinkney 5 PM Sunday, March 16, 2014 African American Center, Sixth and Julian Street, San Jose California.
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