by Marcina Cole
A year has passed since Reverend Pinkney was forcibly removed from his wife, loving family & supporters in Benton Harbor, Michigan. We have held numerous demonstrations and fundraisers in support of Rev. Pinkney from Detroit to Grand Rapids in that time. Rev. Pinkney turned 67 years old in prison on October 27th. He is too old to be celebrating birthdays in prison for something he did not do. The seasons change but his dire situation does not.
I remember the December day when the Reverend was stripped of his freedom in 2014 – handcuffed, feet shackled and taken straight to Jackson prison. Judge Sterling Schrock of Berrien County sentenced Rev. Pinkney to two-and-half to ten years in prison for five counts of felony forgery, allegedly for altering dates on a recall petition against former Mayor James Hightower in Benton, Harbor, Michigan.
Rev. Edward Pinkney is a Civil Rights activist. He’s been down this road before. In 2008, Reverend Pinkney was charged with voter fraud after leading a successful recall against then-County Commissioner Yarbough. That same year Reverend Pinkney was sentenced by Judge Wiley to three to ten years in prison for quoting Biblical scripture:
Deuteronomy 28:15. Judge Butzbaugh of Berrien County stated he felt it was a threat directed at him, so he stepped down from the case and had Judge Wiley impose the sentence. This older case and the current one against Rev. Pinkney have similar components.
Two of the three judges on the appeals panel denied the motion for bond pending appeal on August 4th. A reconsideration motion was once again denied. The two judges were the deciding factor in the decision to deny Reverend Pinkney for release twice pending his appeal. The next move was the State Supreme Court. The motion was DENIED. The next step would be oral arguments to the appellate Court in the state of Michigan; Amicus has been filed by the National Law Guild, and the American Civil Liberties Union.
The whole case saddens me. Rev. Pinkney is being transferred to various prisons. The most recent transfer was on Oct. 6th. I visited Rev. Pinkney at Lakeland Correctional Facility on Oct. 5th and waited two hours to be called by the correctional officer. I felt something wasn’t right because I witnessed eight people who came after I arrived at the prison called before me. The following day, I was told by a relative that Rev. Pinkney had been swiftly taken away in the early morning hours to Kinross prison. He stayed there for 24 hours before once again being transferred to Marquette Branch Prison, a
prison notoriously filled with white supremacist inmates and penitentiary employees. The point of this whole move is to isolate him from others, to do their dirty work.
Rev. Pinkney’s life is in danger; some prisoners are not supervised by the prison guards. They have skinheads, KKK, and other militia groups at this location. Recently I talked to Rev. Pinkney on the phone. He expressed the prison conditions weren’t favorable for him and that the warden at Marquette and some of the prison officials had been harassing and intimidating him.
Things have turned worse in other respects as well since he has been transferred from the Lakeland Facility to Marquette. Reverend Pinkney was exposed to mold in his cell. Symptoms include trouble breathing, nausea and stomach spasms. He got very ill, unable to eat for over a week.
Marquette is very far, making visits arduous because of the long drive—approximately eight hours one way coming from Detroit or Benton Harbor. It is too far particularly during the winter months when driving is hazardous. This move was calculated, planned by the Berrien County political elite. The Berrien County Courthouse made the decision to expedite Rev. Edward Pinkney to the middle of nowhere, to isolate him, to keep him quiet, to destroy him — those evil-doers in Berrien County. Fred Upton, U.S.Representative and heir to the Whirlpool Corporation is complicit in the attempt to silence & break Rev. Pinkney behind prison walls.
Recently on Oct. 23, 2015, Rev. Pinkney’s phone privileges were abruptly suspended — no contact with the outside world. Now he is even denied hearing his wife’s voice on the phone. This a travesty. We, the supporters, will vigilantly fight to pressure the real criminals who have lied and plotted for Rev. Pinkney’s demise. We the supporters will fight to have Rev. Pinkney released, in spite of the government controlled by white supremacy in the State of Michigan and elsewhere.
Warden Napal has stopped Rev. Pinkney from calling out: no radio calls, no conference calls. Many letters and publications sent to Rev. Pinkney have been destroyed or sent back to the sender. Rev. Pinkney is in trouble. We cannot stand by and let this happen! We must act now! Rev. Pinkney, for his safety, must be transferred immediately!
We are urging everyone to write to Rev. Edward Pinkney at his current address:
Marquette Branch Prison
Rev. Edward Pinkney N-E-93 #294671
1960 US Hwy 41 South
Marquette, MI 49855
Please Donate to http:/ /bhbanco.org, or Send checks to BANCO
c/o Dorothy Pinkney
1940 Union Street
Benton Harbor, MI 49022
Funds are needed for the continuing campaign to have Rev. Pinkney released from prison and to spread the word all over this country and the world of the atrocities happening to People of Color. Violations of people’s human rights must STOP NOW!
Because of the increasing threat to Rev. Edward Pinkney’s safety and health, we ask everyone to Contact MDOC, Michigan Department of Correction. Heidi Washington is the Director. Ph. 1-517-241-7238 Please ask her to transfer Reverend Edward Pinkney immediately from Marquette Branch Prison to a closer and safer facility, because of the inhumane treatment he’s receiving from the Warden, Robert Napel, and some of the prison staff in Marquette, Michigan.
Please call warden Robert Napel at 1-906-226-6531, extension 4, and ask him why Rev. Pinkney’s phone privileges were abruptly ceased and to please restore his communication to his Wife, and his supporters. Call Gov. Rick Snyder at 1-517-373-3400, tell him you are concerned about Rev. Pinkney being tortured, mentally, and physically.
Marcina Cole – activist, organizer
Organizer In the Court