Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein said on her campaign Facebook page, “Please join me in raising our voices to protest the unjust imprisonment of anti-corporate, anti-racist, community powerhouse Reverend Edward Pinkney, and his punitive transfer last week to a prison far from his family, attorney and community in Benton Harbor, MI. Reverend Pinkney’s imprisonment is a case of blatant political and racial harassment, jailing him for over 300 days while his wrongful conviction by an all white jury for a minor offense not normally given jail time — allegedly altering dates on a recall petition — is under appeal no less. There was no evidence presented at trial to support the conviction in the first place.”
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.”
Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, Michigan is a long-time community organizer who has led resistance in this predominantly African-American community to a government subservient to the Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool corporation. Benton Harbor is among the Michigan cities, including Detroit, where democratic self-governance has been replaced by “emergency financial management”.
After Pinkney led a petition effort to recall the mayor of Benton Harbor, he was arrested, charged with election fraud, and eventually sentenced to up to 10 years in prison despite a distinct lack of evidence (as explained below). Rev. Pinkney is a prominent member of the Michigan Green Party and has run for Congress on the Green line.
The overt targeting of an African-American activist for a politically-motivated prosecution is reminiscent of recent episodes involving Chuck Turner and Elston McCowan, both Greens who challenged the power structures in their communities. In a system where police officers regularly kill unarmed African-American men without facing trial, it is especially galling that the same system sentences an African-American activist to up to 10 years imprisonment on trumped-up, politically-motivated charges.
Rev. Elston McCowan, a prominent Green Party member in St. Louis, is facing trial in the aftermath of an altercation that occurred outside a St. Louis town hall meeting in 2009. As Green Party Watch previously reported,
Elston McCowan, a Baptist minister and SEIU union official who ran for mayor of St. Louis in 2009 on the Green Party line, was attacked at an 8/6 town hall forum on healthcare reform outside St. Louis in Mehlville, MO. As reported by Patrick M. O’Connell of the St. Louis Dispatch, both tea party protesters and SEIU counter-protesters blame each other for instigating the violence. (full article on Green Party Watch)
On Aug 6 of 2009 Rev. Elston McCowan was arrested after an altercation that occured outside a townhall meeting in St. Louis County. The video evidence suggests that Rev. McCowan was a victim. He suffered serious injuries as a result of the event. He is pending trial in St. Louis County.
Other African-American community leaders active in the Green Party who have recently been targeted by the justice system on dubious grounds include Chuck Turner and Rev. Edward Pinkney.