While many here in Grand Rapids were protesting President Bush this past Saturday, in Benton Harbor people were protesting against brutality and racism. Benton Harbor, like many cities in Michigan, has a history of racial-based injustice and police brutality. This issue came to a head in June of 2003 when people “rioted” in response to the death of an African American resident resulting from a police chase. One of the individuals who has been in the forefront of challenging the racist power structure in Benton Harbor over the past several years is Rev. Edward Pinckney of the Black Autonomy Network of Community Organizers (BANCO).
On April 18, 2005 Rev. Pinkney was arrested on charges of election fraud having to do with the recall election of a city commissioner. The Reverend is facing four felony charges and a misdemeanor that could result in twenty years imprisonment. Despite this, Rev. Pinckney says he will fight the charges, stating that the evidence against him has been contradicted by public records and/or sworn statements. On Saturday people marched to the Benton Harbor Police Department to show their support of Rev. Pinckney as well as their anger at racial and economic injustices in Benton Harbor.