I am Reverend Edward Pinkney, a community activist who tragically became a political prisoner in Michigan on December 15, 2014. On July 26, 2016 the Michigan Court of Appeals rejected my appeal. I was convicted in Berrien County, Michigan by an all-white jury that was motivated by something other than the truth.
I have already served over 21 months as a result of a Jim Crow trial that had me accused of altering dates on a recall petition against then Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower. The prosecutor and judge both instructed the jury they could convict me “with no evidence.” Indeed, there was no evidence. I am an innocent man, threatened, charged, tried, convicted, and sentenced in an effort to isolate and silence me against the power of the land-grabbing, job-outsourcing, criminal Whirlpool Corporation that has its headquarters in Benton Harbor. My unusually harsh sentence was imposed by county judge Sterling Shrock.
On September 7, 2016, the Michigan Supreme Court denied me bond while accepting my application for leave. It will take up to a year for the Supreme Court to reach its decision on my Appeal. The corruption inside the courtroom and the justice system today must stop.
The Court of Appeal decision is published and sets a very dangerous precedent for the people of the State of Michigan and all around the country. The decision indicates that there is sufficient evidence to convict even when there is absolutely NO evidence at all! The prosecution’s case rested on the idea that since I was an outspoken organizer, active in political and social matters (both related to and unrelated to any election), I must have been motivated to alter dates. The prosecution offered no witnesses, no confession, no proof, no evidence of guilt; yet, I was convicted and sentenced to an unusually lengthy sentence of 2.5 to 10 years.
Almost twice the required number of petitions were turned in and processed by the County Clerk’s office and handed over to ascertain the date to be set for the recall election. These petitions were handled by multiple individuals before any charges were made against me, and it was never proved in court that any forgeries had even occurred. A number of individuals testified that they changed the date themselves (realizing they wrote the wrong date or after trying to sign with a pen that its ink had stopped flowing due to the cold winter weather during the petition drive). No forgeries were committed.
The people claim this is the greatest country in the entire world. They claim we have the best criminal justice system. If the blindfolded lady holding the scales of justice exists in this country, then this conviction should not and cannot stand in America, in Michigan, in Berrien County. It is worth repeating that this is a very dangerous precedent for everyone in our country. Convicting without evidence is that dangerous precedent that we must work together to overcome. No human being should ever spend one minute in jail or prison without evidence against him or her!
Lady Justice demands that judges must adhere rigorously to the law of the land and that prosecutors have the responsibility to be ministers of justice, not just to take on the role of advocates. This responsibility, which prosecutor Mike Sepic in my case was charged with, carried with it specific obligations to see that justice is served. But justice was not served.
In my case, and in so many cases that we are witnessing with especially the release of prisoners of color after being exonerated after years, sometimes decades, of false imprisonment, justice was not served. The scales of Lady Justice are imbalanced, especially against people of color. We must continue to fight against this grave imbalance to ensure a humane, just future for people of color, for the homeless, for the poverty-stricken, for the weary and beaten populace of America. All across our country, we must demand that justice be served!
Reverend Edward Pinkney
West Shoreline Correctional Facility
2500 S. Sheridan Drive
Muskegon Heights, MI 49444