In the latest escalation of harassment, Rev. Pinkney has received another misconduct ticket--this time for having a Bible on the bed. Considering the magnitude of serious problems at Marquette Branch Prison reported in this blog, ticketing Rev. Pinkney for this supposed rule infraction is clearly intended to single out and harass him. Correctional officers in Marquette would not be able to get away with such egregious and ridiculous harassment if Lansing did not sanction it.
“It’s clear that this is political prosecution in retaliation for successful community and electoral organizing.”
On December 14th, civil rights leader and political prisoner Rev. Edward Pinkney will have spent a year in Michigan state prison. An all-white jury convicted him of five felony counts of forgery for changing dates next to signatures on a petition drive for a recall election, though no evidence of guilt was presented. The trial was distinguished mainly by its outrageous violations of due process and constitutional rights. Judge Sterling Schrock sentenced him to 30 months to 10 years and denied bond pending appeal, despite Pinkney posing no flight risk and despite the near-certainty that his conviction will be overturned on appeal. While Pinkney’s appeal proceeds slowly through the grinding gears of the judicial system, he remains in the clutches of the state.
Over the past two months, the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) has attempted to intimidate him into silence and to gradually isolate him from family, friends, and supporters. This turn of events began shortly after his defense team filed his appeal brief. The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan has also filed an amicus brief in support of overturning the conviction. It is probably not a coincidence that Pinkney has recently endured a sudden escalation of harassment and mistreatment, now that the likely success of his appeal is apparent.
On December 15, Rev. Edward Pinkney, a leader in the struggle for social and economic justice for the residents of Benton Harbor, Michigan, was sentenced to serve up to 10 years in prison, on the basis of thin circumstantial evidence that a few dates had been altered on a recall petition against the city's mayor, James Hightower. The recall was prompted by the mayor's continued support for tax evasion by the Whirlpool Corporation, the Fortune 500 company and $19 billion global appliance manufacturer, headquartered in Benton Harbor.
There was absolutely no evidence to convict Pinkney, and, legally, the altering of a petition document should have been a misdemeanor offense. Instead, they charged him with felony forgery - though no signatures were forged and all signatories testified that they signed willingly on the correct day. A forensics expert for the prosecution testified that there was no way to determine who changed the handful of dates. Incredibly, the all-white jury was urged by the prosecutor to believe that direct evidence was not required; they only had to "believe" that Pinkney was motivated to cheat and that he "could" have changed the dates while circulating the petitions.
The fight in Benton Harbor is a war, it’s not a conflict. It’s a war over whether America will have prosperity and democracy, or live in poverty under the heel of open corporate rule. - Rev. Edward Pinkney
Stein urged supporters to “call Michigan Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington, or her assistant Sandy Simon, to urge Rev. Pinkney’s return down state: 517-241-7238.”