The town of Benton Harbor, in Berrien County, Michigan
has its own special brand of state sanctioned de facto terrorism
against its Black citizens, in the insidious form of the suppression
of Black voting rights. This is no doubt a microcosm of the disenfranchisement
that is stealthily and steadily being played out against people
of color and the poor in communities across America, while the
US Government hypocritically spews to the rest of the world a
horribly disingenuous rhetoric of its supposed belief in democracy
and the sacredness of the right to vote.
In 2005, Reverend Edward Pinkney, 59, a Black political
activist in Benton Harbor, Michigan had the unmitigated audacity
to refuse to acquiesce to the role of being a "house Negro,"
and in defiance of the Benton Harbor white power structure and
its surrogates, organized and spearheaded a successful recall
election of an at large city commissioner who was believed by
many to be corrupt. As a result of the successful recall election
Rev. Pinkney was immediately charged with, among other things,
possessing absentee voter ballots, but in March 2006, a mistrial
was declared in all of the five charges against him as a result
of jurors having clearly voted along racial lines. Nevertheless,
the white prosecutor, in 2007, retried Rev. Pinkney, this time
utilizing an all white jury, which resulted in Pinkney's being
convicted in the span of a few short hours of the closing argument
at the trial. Thus, Rev. Pinkney could face up to 20 years in
prison, when in fact his only crime is the one of being Black,
while exercising his human and political rights on behalf of himself
and all justice loving people in Benton Harbor, Michigan and throughout
America. On May 14, 2007, Rev. Edward Pinkney is to be sentenced.
All of us should be standing in court with Rev. Pinkney, physically
and/or in spirit, and demanding that he receive justice and a
real jury of and by his peers - which jury must include Black
people. Nothing less than freedom, dignity, and justice for all
Black people, people of color, and all justice loving people in
America is what is at stake.
It should further be noted that Benton Harbor Black
political activist, Rev. Edward Pinkney, of his own volition on
April 13, 2007, underwent a polygraph test administered by an
examiner with the Oakland County Sheriff's Department in Detroit,
Michigan, which he passed on all issues.Though inadmissible in
court, it provides additional proof of his innocence. Not surprisingly,
however, the white judge and prosecutor in Benton Harbor have
refused to acknowledge in any meaningful way the results of the
polygraph test, in addition to refusing to have such a test administered
under their own auspices. It is most informative that when polygraph
test results point to the innocence of an accused - particularly
a Black accused person - said tests are deemed unreliable or non-credible;
but if said polygraph tests either rightly or wrongly pointed
to the guilt of an accused person, the results somehow become
The biased and sullied motivation, on the part
of the state, to prosecute Rev. Pinkney and the racist tactics
utilized to do so, are obvious. Moreover, it is an unspeakable,
intolerable outrage and injustice that a Black person anywhere
in America be tried by an all white court and/or jury. Indeed,
it is unacceptable that any person of color, be they Black, Red,
or Brown, be subjected to this ongoing, hideous form of 21st century
American judicial apartheid.
As the case of Rev. Pinkney makes crystal clear,
the message to Black America from the racist white American power
structure continues to be unmistakable and it is: "We will
use all of our systemic machinery, from the media to the courts,
to suppress your legitimate human, political, and economic rights;
and we shall do this in the name of justice, freedom, and democracy."
However, to be truly Black is to be actively politically conscious,
and our resounding reply, in both word and deed must be, "We
shall not stand for injustice. We shall have independent thought,
and our spirit will never be crushed!" As Harriet Tubman
repeatedly demonstrated, "We shall not be moved!"
It is imperative to actively concern ourselves
with the events regarding Rev. Edward Pinkney in Benton Harbor,
Michigan. His struggle is our own. In the warrior tradition of
dear brother Malcolm X of the 20th century, Rev. Pinkney is today
one of our own 21st century Black princes, doing battle on behalf
of us all. The personal responsibility of all justice loving people
- each and every one of us, regardless of color - is to inform
ourselves of these matters and act accordingly.
In a coming column, I shall address the importance
of Black people in America and throughout the African Diaspora
drawing the connections between our ongoing political, cultural,
social, and economic struggle with that of Brown and Red peoples.
In this context, this column will address the struggle of wrongly
imprisoned Native "Indian" political activist Leonard
Peltier, who is of enormous significance to all politically and
socially conscious people, including Black people. So stay posted,
and most of all, may we continue to keep it real in this, our
Note: Reverend Edward Pinkney and BC Columnist
Larry Pinkney are related in the struggle and their
ancestors might have also been the "property" of
the same white slaveholder.
Columnist Larry Pinkney is a veteran of the Black Panther Party,
the former Minister of Interior of the Republic of New Africa,
a former political prisoner and the only American to have successfully
self-authored his civil/political rights case to the United Nations
under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
here to contact Mr. Pinkney.