Arrested in 2014 on charges of “altering five dates on a recall petition,” Rev. Pinkney, a community leader in the 90 percent African-American town of Benton Harbor, Mich., was tried by an all-white jury that was told “you do not need evidence” for a conviction.
The sum total of “evidence” consisted in showing that Rev. Pinkney chaired the meetings that organized the petitioning, spoke at press conferences and led many picket lines. In Dec. 2014, he was convicted of five forgery felonies and sentenced to from 2-and-a-half to 10 years in prison.
Since his Oct. 6 transfer to Marquette Branch Prison, 500 miles away from family, friends and attorney, Rev. Pinkney has been targeted by the guards and prison administration.
He had his telephone access taken away on Oct. 23 and was put in lockdown for 24 hours, 7 days a week in his cell. On Nov. 21, the prison authorities placed Rev. Pinkney in “segregation” and denied him visitors. Books and newspapers mailed to him have been arbitrarily denied him. With no exercise and horrible food, Rev. Pinkney’s blood pressure has been elevated with no regular medical monitoring. His last communications with the outside world said that “every day was a confrontation” with racist and aggressive guards. He said that he was in fear for his life.
Activists from across Michigan and the region are building an “Emergency Conference to Save Rev. Edward Pinkney” in Detroit on Saturday, Dec. 12, from noon to 5 p.m. The gathering will be held at St. Matthew/St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 8850 Woodward Avenue. More information can be gotten at 313.680.5508 or the Facebook event page.
One goal is to ask people across the country to participate in the “3-C’s Campaign” during December:
1) Send a holiday card to Rev. Edward Pinkney #294671, Marquette Branch Prison NE-93, 1960 US Hwy. 41 South, Marquette, MI 49855.
2) Make two calls to protest his mistreatment to Gov. Rick Snyder at 517.373.3400 and to legislative ombudsman Keith Barber at 517.373.8573.
3) Contribute a holiday financial gift to Rev. Pinkney’s defense fund (no matter the size) at BHBANCO.org using the PayPal button, or send a check to BANCO c/o Mrs. Dorothy Pinkney, 1940 Union St., Benton Harbor, MI 49022.
The goal is to have hundreds, even thousands, of people participate in this effort to save Rev. Pinkney while he is waiting for his legal appeal to be heard.