~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
(cross posted to Berrien County Blues)


by Rich Capalbo and Sandra Reid

On May 21, 2005, community leaders, activists and students from Michigan and the Midwest met in Benton Harbor, Michigan, to rally in support of Rev. Edward Pinkney. The reverend faces serious vote fraud charges, trumped up by the local government to silence him. He is a key leader in the fight for justice in Benton Harbor, a city ravaged by unemployment, criminalization of youth, and the polarization of wealth and poverty. The community has a leadership group, headed by Rev. Pinkney, that understands what is going on, and has mobilized the community to take action, drawing fire from the local establishment and corporate interests who plan to take over the city. Rev. Pinkney told the People's Tribune the rally was a success. "We wanted a show of force. The community is now aware. People have been afraid. The sheriff has been breaking into their homes at three in the morning. Now they see there is outside help."

Following are some of the words of support expressed at the rally:

"As an individual we can do nothing. We have to learn this. If we stand up, we can win this battle. It's not just about Benton Harbor. The whole state belongs to us. We are a people." -- Rev. Edward Pinkney, Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO)

"I'm proud to be here. When you hear ministers who not only quote the gospel, but live the gospel, who are standing here and who are not afraid ... when we get rid of all of these judges and prosecutors, police officers who kill, when we deal with them, we'll be running America." -- Ron Scott, Detroit Coalition against Police Brutality

"We're fighting the privatization of the water in Detroit. Education, healthcare, utilities, should be nationalized and run in the interests of the people. This is what the fight in Benton Harbor is about. They don't need us to work any more, so they don't think we need benefits. All of the wealth goes to the Empire. They're starving the cities. We can't let them get away with the attack on Rev. Pinkney." -- Marian Kramer, Michigan Welfare Rights Union

"We are mandated by the Constitution to alter our government when our safety and pursuit of happiness are in danger. We must continue to challenge and alter this oppressive government together for the protection of all." -- Libby Hunter, media spokesperson, BANCO

"We're all saying the same thing: Change has got to come. It's time for the revolution. It's time for the revolutionaries. If you are going to create a new agenda, bring in the grassroots people who are fighting the fight." -- Brenda Matthews, poet/performer, Chicago, League of Revolutionaries for a New America

"We have to unite our forces to be successful. What transpired during the civil disturbance here broadened my view. I see Benton Harbor as the catalyst for change not just throughout the state of Michigan, but throughout the entire world." -- Calvin Hunter, candidate for city commissioner in Benton Harbor

"I want to say a word to this ruling clique that governs this area: Don't underestimate us. Don't think that we don't know whose sweat and toil built these mansions. Don't think that we don't understand that you are rich because we are poor. You will not break our movement by attacking our leaders. Any movement that doesn't defend its leaders is not worth its salt. My advice to this clique is: back off while there's still time."-- Nelson Peery, author, "Black Fire: the Making of an American Revolutionary"


Funds for legal expenses are urgently needed. T-shirts are a $20 donation. Make donations payable to BANCO. Send to 1940 Union Street, Benton Harbor, MI 49022. The next demonstration is June 25 at 11 a.m. at the Benton Harbor Public Library, 213 East Wall Street. Jimmy Carter will be in town.Call 269-925-0001 for more information.

Benton Harbor is a burning example of the struggles evolving across the country. Driven out of industry, growing millions have no choice but to fight for a decent future. We are met with police repression and the jailing of our leaders. We will defend our leaders while we stay on the offensive in the streets. We are stronger than the opposition, but they are united and our forces are scattered. As we carry on the fight we must unite our forces locally, statewide, and finally across the country. We must go to our communities and family by family show them this is their struggle and they must make their will felt. There are only two paths: submit and sink lower and lower, or resist the oppression, reclaim our country and create a decent future for ourselves. In Benton Harbor, the battle is joined and victory belongs to the people.

Speakers for a New America is helping to organize a speaking tour for Rev. Pinkney. Call 800-691-6888 or e-mail speakers@lrna.org.
The People's Tribune is your paper. Write for it. Send us your story. Order extra copies to get out in your community. Call 800-691-6888 or write People's Tribune, P.O. Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654-3524 or email pt@lrna.org.

This article originated in the PEOPLE'S TRIBUNE
May, 2005; P.O. Box 3524,Chicago, IL 60654
Email: pt@lrna.org; http://www.lrna.org 800-691-6888
Feel free to reproduce, just credit the source.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~