International Criticism Of US Human Rights Record Over Pinkney Case

Anthony Freda Art

By Brandon Turbeville

US violations of Constitutional and human rights have long been recognized by countries who have been unfortunate enough to find themselves victims of Western and US imperialism. These countries have, on occasion, also been vocal about them. Even Russia and China have flippantly mentioned the US hypocrisy in regards to the human rights issue. European countries, on the other hand, have long been silent about US abuses due to the collusion and cooperation in the Atlanticist and Anglo-American agenda.

European silence has come despite the incessant wars committed overseas, the enormous population of imprisoned people in the US, the elimination of privacy, dictatorship of corporations and banks, and the authoritarian crackdown on American citizens.

Recently, however, a respected member of the Italian judicial community, Ferdinando Imposimato, was moved by the case of Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, Michigan, enough to address a letter to the Italian government calling for the Italians to remind the United States that they, too, are signatories to the Helsinki Treaty and that they should afford Pinkney his rights and due process.

Imposimato wrote,

Having examined a summary of the legal action against Reverend Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor, Michigan (USA), I feel the duty to express my gravest concern about abuses of civil and human rights against this of this minister of the gospel, who is at the same time the main leader of popular resistance against the anti-freedom regime imposed in that area by the multinational corporation Whirlpool, which has its world headquarters precisely in Benton Harbor.

Whirlpool represents the largest appliance company in the Western world. Pinkney was indicted with the accusation of having forged the dates of a few signatures on petitions circulated to recall Mayor Hightower, a Whirlpool ally, and force him to justify his behavior in office before the voters through the device of calling an early election.

Pinkney was sentenced to up to 10 years’ imprisonment, despite the absolute absence of any proof against him. Normally, according to Michigan law, this entire matter would have been considered a misdemeanor, but in order to take down Pinkney, the head of the opposition in the city, this charge was inflated to the level of being an extremely serious felony. In addition, Pinkney’s trial was polluted by so many intrigues among the judge, the sheriff, the county officials, and a member of the jury who committed perjury, all of which makes Pinkney’s conviction invalid, and requires that it be struck down, in my opinion.

In recent days, I have seen the beginnings in Italy of that same process of urban degradation and economic impoverishment which has ruined the city of Benton Harbor. In recent years, Whirlpool has bought up large chunks of our splendid Italian appliance industry, including especially the appliance manufacturer Indesit. Now, Whirlpool executives have issued a proclamation from Benton Harbor announcing with absolute arrogance that they intend to wipe out about 2,000 jobs, which means more than a third of the current personnel of the Italian branch of Whirlpool. This mass firing would be a devastating blow for Varese, Caserta, Turin, Naples, Siena, and the other Italian cities which Whirlpool is targeting.

We have to ask ourselves if Whirlpool is trying to drive these Italian cities down to the same level of plantations of despair which we observe today in Benton Harbor. God forbid!

I therefore call on the Italian government to intervene to protect these jobs in our country. The Italian government should call in the American ambassador in Rome and demand explanations about the Pinkney case, emphatically reminding him that the United States, as signatories along with Italy of the Final Act of the Helsinki Treaty (1975) are required to respect human rights and civil rights, with voting rights at the top of the list — meaning exactly the right which Reverend Pinckney was attempting to exercise.

Of course, in 2015, outrageous arrests, nonsensical verdicts, and felonious rulings have become the norm in the US Justice system. In the case of Rev. Edward Pinkney, however, all three coalesced to make up one open case of political imprisonment.

First arrested on charges of election fraud regarding a recall attempt that Pinkney led against Benton Harbor, Michigan Mayor James Hightower, Pinkney was sentenced to up to ten years in prison on felony charges although they should only have been prosecuted as a misdemeanor, according to those representing Pinkney.

The recall of Mayor Hightower was part of a larger battle being waged by Pinkney and his associates who were fighting for the people of Benton Harbor, a city that has been ravaged by decades of economic decline, austerity policies, and emergency managers as well as the corporate control of the Whirlpool Corporation.

The arrest and trial of Pinkney has been a political witch hunt and public circus since day one. A SWAT raid was launched in order to serve Pinkney a warrant, complete with surrounding Pinkney’s home in full military regalia and closing off the street as if it were an armed standoff. Sherriff’s deputies then proceeded to raid the homes of petition signers in order to get them to testify that Pinkney had forged their signatures.

Pinkney’s trial was complete with a stacked jury including members who lied under oath regarding their connections to members of the prosecution or key witnesses in the case.

Rev. Pinkney was convicted despite the fact that there was essentially no evidence to prove him guilty of the charges levied against him. In fact, during the trial, the prosecution even told the jury that “you don’t need evidence to convict Mr. Pinkney.”

That Pinkney was convicted in a kangaroo court is clear enough. However, the insanity did not stop at his imprisonment.

Judge Sterling Schrock then ordered Rev. Pinkney to pay restitution to Mayor James Hightower for the campaign costs he incurred as a result of the recall election. In addition, Judge Schrock ordered Rev. Pinkney to pay around $1,800 dollars for “neck pain” that Hightower experienced as a result of the stress of facing a recall election. The $1,800 is presumably the estimated cost of the time Hightower had to take off to “deal with the stress of the situation.”

Such an outrageous ruling is not only evidence of the fact that the courts themselves are entirely corrupt, but also that political dissent in Berrien County, Benton Harbor, Michigan, and the country as a whole is under attack. Mayor Hightower’s pathetic whining about stress from facing a legitimate recall election is merely an expression of another privileged aristocrat who became upset when his perceived authority was challenged. Judge Schrock’s ruling is merely one more example of a court system working hand in hand with the local and corporate ruling class to maintain the status quo of oppression and submission in the ranks of the general public in their districts.

Pinkney’s persecution is a warning to all activists that the system, when challenged, will attempt to do whatever it can to fight back and remove the dissenters. Imposimato’s letter is a reminder to all Americans that their claims and fairy tales of liberty, freedom, justice, and the American way have disappeared from reality a long time ago.

Recently from Brandon Turbeville:

Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real ConspiraciesFive Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, and The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria. Turbeville has published over 500 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV.  He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com. 

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