From the Editors: Reverend Edward Pinkney is Free!
A major victory has been achieved in the protracted battle in Benton Harbor, Michigan, against corporate dictatorship and for a government and society that operates in the interests of the people. After spending two and one-half years in prison on a trumped-up charge of voter fraud, Reverend Pinkney has been exonerated of all charges by the Michigan Supreme Court.
Benton Harbor is located in Berrien County, along the shores of Lake Michigan. The trans-global Whirlpool Corporation has long been the major employer for the workers of Benton Harbor. In the 1990s, Whirlpool began replacing its workforce with computers and robots. Large-scale unemployment and poverty began to set in. Whirlpool then shifted from manufacturing to building a $500 million lakeside resort as a playground of the rich. The public property needed for the resort was privatized and turned over to Whirlpool.
Reverend Pinkney and the residents of Benton Harbor were outraged. A petition to recall the commissioner who operated as a stooge of Whirlpool was initiated in 2004. Pinkney was charged with voter fraud, and the recall election was overturned. Pinkney was indicted and then convicted by an all-white jury. Benton Harbor is 90 percent African American. Reverend Pinkney was placed under house arrest, but when he quoted the biblical admonition that God will punish those who act unjustly against others, the judge took it as a personal threat, and had Pinkney jailed. Even though the judgment was later overturned, Pinkney spent a year in prison.
In 2011, an emergency manager with dictatorial powers was appointed by the state to take over the city’s finances, replace local officials, sell public assets and dismantle collective bargaining agreements. That same year, James Hightower, another Whirlpool puppet was elected mayor. Reverend Pinkney and the residents of Benton Harbor launched another recall effort to remove the mayor. On the eve of the scheduled recall election, Pinkney was charged with five counts of felony voter fraud. The recall election was cancelled. Reverend Pinkney was convicted and sentenced. He spent another two and a half years in prison. On May 1 of this year, the Michigan Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Reverend Pinkney.
Even as we celebrate this victory, we know that the war is far from over. Benton Harbor and Reverend Pinkney are at the center of what can only be described as a fascist offensive, first taking over government and operating it in the interests of the corporations, and then moving to contain and crush the rising motion of especially those workers cut off from obtaining the necessities of life. The Black-majority cities in Michigan were targeted first, but the dictatorial emergency managers have spread all across Michigan and are a harbinger of the future of America.
Reverend Pinkney stands as a beacon for all revolutionaries who are engaged in this fight. In his own words, “Let us make this struggle a victory for all the people. Let us take control of this country, away from the corporations and build a society where the people, not the corporations, make the decisions.”
We stand with Reverend Edward Pinkney.
July/August 2018 Vol28.Ed4
This article originated in Rally, Comrades!
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The age-old vision of a world without scarcity, without exploitation, class domination, organized violence, and stultifying labor has been the dream of millenia. The new completely socialized labor-eliminating means of production ... sets the basis for its realization. Now human history can begin, the light of the individual shining in the full brightness of liberated life, that can only be realized within true equality and cooperation: communism, a cooperative society.'Without Vision, the People Perish'
Rally, Comrades ! May/June 2011