Jun 11, 2018
In May, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled unanimously to overturn the conviction of the Reverend Edward Pinkney. The court ruled that Reverend Pinckney was “improperly charged,” “improperly tried and sentenced” and “improperly served 30 months in prison.” Reverend Pinkney had been wrongfully charged with changing 5 dates next to five signatures on a petition to recall the mayor of Benton Harbor.
Pinkney has been the leader of the Benton Harbor NAACP. He’s a community organizer, leading the fight against Whirlpool, the major corporation that closed all its factories while receiving tax breaks. He fought the State of Michigan for imposing a dictatorial emergency manager system that helped Whirlpool to take over Lake Michigan beachfront property and public parks in Benton Harbor, a predominantly black poor and working class community, for its private profit.
He was and is an integral part of people’s efforts to fight against police repression. He spearheaded the recall campaign of the mayor who was backed by Whirlpool. These were, in fact, the real “crimes” for which he was judged and convicted in 2014 by a jury of white people from affluent communities.
It’s a good thing that Reverend Pinkney’s conviction was overturned. Certainly the long, determined work of the people who fought in his defense made all the difference. But justice was hardly served by this ruling: Pinkney has spent two and a half years in prison.
While those who fought for justice in this case have succeeded in briefly checking Whirlpool’s arrogance, this giant corporation continues to dominate Benton Harbor’s political and economic scene. To checkmate Whirlpool will take a deeper and broader fight.