CHICAGO, IL — Over New Year’s, we drove from Chicago to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (near Canada) to visit Rev. Edward Pinkney. Isolated in a prison that looks like a 19th century castle, 500 miles from family and supporters, stripped of phone privileges, the reverend was happy to see visitors, and sends greetings to all his supporters.
After hugs (only allowed at the beginning and end of visits) he told us that a guard is trying to set him up. In one incident, the guard passed him in a hallwayand tried to force a collision. Rev. Pinkney flattened himself against a wall to avoid him, explaining to us that a prisoner who even touches a guard faces an assault charge. He now fears that someone will place a weapon in his cell.
Rev. Pinkney is a political prisoner, jailed because of his leadership in the fight against the corporate dictatorship (Emergency Manager system of rule) in Benton Harbor, Michigan, and because of his staunch defense of the poor. As industry automated or fled the area, the local power structure—led by Whirlpool—turned to tourism for additional profits, leaving many workers jobless. Rev. Pinkney and the community fought to unseat the mayor who spoke for Whirlpool’s interests, a fight that the government used to frame and jail him. Rev. Pinkney is extremely pleased that the community recently ousted the mayor.
Our discussion turned to the water wars in Michigan and the immorality of this economic system that won’t even provide clean, safe water to our people. Rev. Pinkney emphasized the importance of the water struggle. And he was very happy to hear that the poorest among us are unifying in the fight for water, housing, for the jailing of police who kill, and politicians who represent the corporations—and that the people are refusing to let anyone break their unity. Rev. Pinkney said he “can’t wait to get back into the fight.”
Powerful forces are trying to break Rev Pinkney to stop the movement he represents. They are not succeeding. Rev. Pinkney received a mountain of holiday cards, some from supporters in foreign countries. The word is spreading! Connect Rev. Pinkney’s story to your struggle. Order a bundle of People’s Tribunes to help build unity in our fight for survival. Visit peoplestribune.org to order papers. Donate to Pinkney’s defense at bh-banco.org/.