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Rev. Pinkney Attorney, Hugh
M. Davis, tells BlackCommentaor.com an attempt to
get Pinkney out of jail at a hearing on Thursday, December
20th failed. Davis says Judge Alfred Butzbaugh accepted their
protected by the first ammendment right of free speech:
"The corruption and the deceitfulness continues in
Berrien County Courthouse. Judge Butzbaugh has violated his
oath. I support the constitution of the United States and
the State of Michigan; we are still waiting on this racist
corrupt judge to do the same. Judge Butzbaugh has failed
the people, the community, his duties and his office."
However, Davis says the Judge ruled that the following statement
by Pinkney calling on God to curse the judge and his family
was not protected by the first ammendment and it was a violation
of the probabtion terms prohibiting inflamatory remarks:
"Judge Butzbaugh, it shall come to pass; if thou continue
not to hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God to observe
to do all that is right; which I command thee this day, that
all these Curses shall come upon you and your family, curses
shalt be in the City of St. Joseph and Cursed shalt thou
be in the field, cursed shall come upon you and your family
and over take thee; cursed shall be the fruit of thy body.
The Lord shall smite thee with consumption and with a fever
and with an inflammation and with extreme burning. They the
demons shall Pursue thee until thou persist."
Both of the above quotes are part of an article that originated
in the People's Tribune PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654, 773-486-3551, firstname.lastname@example.org.
written by Rev. Pinkney. Click here to
read the entire article.
Attorney Davis also tells BC he is puzzled
by the ruling and has never heard of anything like it before.
Another hearing on the matter will take place sometime after
January 18, 2008.
Note: This story will be updated if there are new developments.
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Note: Larry Pinkney
and Rev. Pinkney are not related.
In a series of commentaries in recent months,
BlackCommentator.com has reported on the story of Reverend Edward
Pinkney. Rev. Pinkney, a Black community leader and activist,
has led the fight against official corruption and corporate
greed in his impoverished and predominantly Black community
of Benton Harbor, Michigan.
In an effort to stop the giveaway of Benton Harbor’s
prime waterfront property to the Whirlpool Corporation—which
plans to build the $750 million to $1 billion Harbor Shores,
a resort complete with a marina, golf course, hotels and luxury
housing units, none of which will provide any benefit to Benton
Harbor’s residents—Pinkney led a successful election effort
to unseat the city’s most influential powerbroker. A local
judge threw out the election, and was subsequently rewarded
by President Bush with a seat on the federal bench.
December 13, 2007, former Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-Georgia),
a Green Party presidential candidate, visited Benton Harbor
to show support for Rev. Pinkney. The next day, Judge Alfred
Butzbaugh issued an arrest
warrant for Pinkney on the grounds that Pinkney violated
his probation by engaging in “assaultive, abusive, defamatory,
demeaning, harassing, violent, threatening, or intimidating
behavior.” At issue was an article in the November/December
issue of The People’s
Tribune, in which Rev. Pinkney stated “We must fight for
justice for all anytime you have a Judge like Alfred Butzbaugh,
who is a racist. It took over 53 days to render a fifth-grade
decision denying me a new trial.” Pinkney also said “In my
motion for a new trial, I argued that I was charged but never
arraigned, nor did I receive due process by the dumb Judge and
prosecutor.” He added: “I support the constitution of the United
States and the State of Michigan; we are still waiting on this
racist corrupt judge to do the same. Judge Butzbaugh has failed
the people, the community, his duties and his office.” Neither
Pinkney nor his counsel were aware of such terms to his probation.
Rev. Pinkney was arrested by sheriff’s deputies
and locked up in the Berrien County Jail in neighboring St.
Joseph. And his computer was confiscated. His supporters have
endorsed a petition
protesting the stolen Benton Harbor election and Pinkney’s false
prosecution. They are calling for clemency from Governor Granholm,
and a boycott of Whirlpool products.
In a statement, former Rep. McKinney said the following: “We received a tremendous reception in Benton Harbor,
Michigan--a majority black community that is fighting for its
survival against powerful corporate interests that want to own
its pristine beachfront land. Reverend Edward Pinkney
has been a stalwart fighter for justice in the community and
is leading its resistance to these powerful corporate interests.
I went to Benton Harbor to support Reverend Pinkney and the
people of Benton Harbor in their struggle for self-determination.
At this meeting, it was clear that Reverend Pinkney had succeeded
in bringing whites and blacks together in this fight for justice.
And we know that powerful interests view that as a no-no.
Unfortunately, today, the day after our wonderful rally with
the residents, Reverend Pinkney was picked up by the police
for allegedly violating the terms of his parole to not make
Rev. Pinkney has been punished twice, once for
fighting against powerful corporate interests— and using the
democratic process to unseat their primary water boy— and a
second time for using his First Amendment right to free speech
by criticizing those who have committed a grave injustice against
The team of
attorney’s representing Rev. Pinkney believes they have a good
first amendment case. The National
Lawyers Guild team
will challenge the arrest, challenge the terms of the probation
and ask the court to modify the conditions of probation at a
hearing set for 4pm ET today (Thursday, December 20). Hugh M.
Davis, one member the three-lawyer Pinkney legal team told BC
they would argue in court that the seizing of Pinkney’s
computer and prohibition of the use of a cell phone was illegal.
Additionally they will argue that the terms of condition 15
of the probation document are overbroad and vague. The
National Lawyers Guild team is hoping to get Pinkney released
on bail while awaiting an appeal of the case.
The case of Rev. Pinkney is part of a lengthy
ongoing struggle in Benton Harbor. Rev.
Pinkney and the Black community of Benton Harbor are not
receiving justice, and "justice delayed is justice
denied" to Pinkney and the entire Black community of Benton
Further, it should be noted that what is
occurring in Benton Harbor with Rev. Pinkney and the Black community
there is precisely what is taking place on assorted levels throughout
the U.S., e.g. the Jena 6, the San Francisco 8, the officially
admitted Black torture victims of the Chicago police, etc.
And there are Benton Harbors across the nation, as Black, Brown
and poor communities are displaced and decimated by gentrification
and corporate greed, and in the case of New Orleans, eliminated
through official neglect.
For those who believe it cannot, will not happen
to them, the suppression of Rev. Pinkney's
free speech rights jeopardizes the free speech rights of all
Americans, particularly those of Black political activists and
other people of color. At a time when what you say can land
you in jail, this suppression of Rev. Pinkney and the Black
community has a chilling effect upon the exercising
of one's constitutional rights.
BC readers should contact Rep. John Conyers
to let him know that they want justice for Rev. Pinkney:
Rep. John Conyers
669 Federal Building
231 W. Lafayette
Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 226-2085 Fax
2426 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-0072 Fax
2615 W. Jefferson
Trenton, MI 48183
(734) 675-4218 Fax
Board member, 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. For more about Larry Pinkney
see the book, Saying No to Power: Autobiography of a 20th Century
Activist and Thinker,
by William Mandel [Introduction by Howard Zinn]. (Click
here to read excerpts from the book) Click
here to contact Mr. Pinkney.