Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Victory in Benton Harbor!

Thank you to all of the supporters of the justice struggle in Benton Harbor. The people made a stand for democracy and won. The city power structure in Benton Harbor, was dealt a blow in the struggle for justice on Monday. The trial of Rev. Pinkney was declared a mistrial. The jury was deadlocked after over 20 hours. The jury was convinced that further deliberations would be useless. It is possible that the prosecution may try the case again. Whatever they do -- we stand on this tremendous victory, our growing unity and clarity about what we're up against and the just world we can win, as we gcet ready for the next round of struggle.

Rev. Pinkney told supporters: "I am truly truly happy about the outcome of this trial. I was innocent from the start. I knew they were convinced they would convict we. I know they couldn't because they didn't have the goods.. I thank everyone for coming. This is not about me. It was a victory for the people. We have to teach people to stand up and fight. Fight for what's right. If I can do it, You can do it. This is a tremendous victory. Next step is that we have to take this across the country. First, make sure the Governor Granholm doesn't get back in there We have to connect. Start from Detroit, Flint, Ann Arbor, Battle Creek. Kalamazoo, and connect all the way down to Benton Harbor. She put the Judge in office. We can show we can stand up and fight.

Tat Parish, Reverend Pinkney's lawyer said: "That these 12 good people could not agree he was guilty vindicates our position in this case. It is possible that the prosecutor may try the case again. There was so much conflicting testimony from so many people who had so many conflicting motives in this case. The truth is thatc it is the sort of case where the dead skunk gets thrown up on the porch and it
is almost impossible to figure out among the many people testifying who is telling the truth and who is being influencing by what -- it is a political nightmare and one that no one's interests will be served by further ventures in a criminal court. It is over with it. It should be over with . I hope we don't have to retry it. Rev. Pinkney's views may not be popular. His views may not be popular. But the very unpopularity of his views make it important that they be expressed."

Messages to the Grass Roots

by Maureen D. Taylor, State Chair, MWRO

March 26, 2006--What does this describe? We are being picked off, neighborhood after neighborhood, by elected hoodlums who live like royalty at our expense. We are assaulted daily by an on-going campaign of misinformation spawned by major media hoodlums, and we are left at the end of the day with our hands trembling as we wonder where the truth is. We are exposed to stories every moment about the street hoodlums who openly violate the peace of the block, some of the violators dressed in Detroit Police uniforms. Women and children are in danger when out after dark. Seniors must get indoors before sundown. Both school children and school education are under attack. We can’t get an accounting of where the city finances have gone that put us in this dismal shape. We can’t get bulk pick up. The city suffers as the local government assigns private companies to operate those sites that made Detroit special, while the residents who work at those places have their benefits and salaries slashed to bare bones existence.

Water, a human right, is routinely disconnected at the homes of the disabled, the aged, the low income and the unemployed and the Water Dept. budget again in 2006-2007 assumes 45,000 more new addresses will be shut off. The reward for cutting off water to suffering Detroiters is to offer the Water Czar a $10,000 increase in his already inflated salary. Ten’s of thousands are without heat and lights at this moment. We have no health care, public transportation is unreliable, unemployment is up, welfare is fading, help is harder to find and the churches close early on Sundays. It looks like, it feels like, it smells like, it tastes like, it sounds like war…and it is!

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Sunday, March 26, 2006




Monday, March 27th
10:00 a.m.
Holy Redeemer Catholic Church (1721 Junction St.)

For more information, call Juan at the MOSES Office at : 313-962-5290 X20








Let us miss one day of work today to ensure our freedom tomorrow

UPDATE: WDIV TV reports over 5000 marchers

CA Green Party US Senate candidates call for amnesty and equality.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Say No to Water Privatization.

As the World Water forum comes to a close on World Water Day, a statement from the forum calls on governments to maintain and improve access to water. The struggle between corporations and civil society over water will continue around the world regardless.

Other water related coverage include:
Farmers waste most of the worlds water, Youth show us the way and Water Wars continue in Detroit.

Monday, March 20, 2006


March 20, 2006
by Maureen D. Taylor, State Chair, MWRO
Several significant, progressive events took place this last week that deserve mention so that those of us who are discouraged can gain heart. As we approach the Easter season, a religious holiday that is important in the lives of many Detroiters, let us all pause and take stock of these things together.
First, a large group of responsible persons commemorated the third anniversary of the Iraq War. We are looking at 2,300 plus dead on this side, 17,000 plus injured on this side, and $200 billion spent so far on this side. My question??? Why are anti-war protests attended mostly by white Americans? People of color don’t care for government-sponsored carnage either, but are few in marches even in cities where people of color are the predominant force. What is this about…
Next, on Sunday, a large group of sad picketers marched in front of our former ‘favorite’ son’s home to declare our anger and angst at his recent signings as a new Council member. The visit to member Kwame Kenyatta house was sparked because of a series of errant votes he cast, including voting to purchase a new police tank, to privatize parts of the Detroit Zoo, and most saliently hurtful was his signature of a resolution increasing water rates when we needed him to maintain this bargaining chip. The Water Affordability Program was being discussed and we would have help greater leverage in forcing a serious review of this plan had he not buckled. What is this about…
Next, news has trickled out again about how much of a band of liars the Water Dept is and how much they HATE us all. On Bloody Friday, March 10, 2006, when some of the Detroit City Council flimflammed the community and forced a crooked water rate increase through, representatives from the Water Dept. were asked point blank, if there were plans to lay off water employees. All the water administrative staff persons, including that low-down, enemy of the people, Water Director Victor Mercado claimed there were no such plans. Members of the Water Union, Local 207, produced the letter they received on March 13, 2006, that lists the staff positions in the Water Dept. that are slated for early April layoffs. We are so-o-o-o disrespected, that today, the Detroit News has exposed the flash that the Mayor has asked Federal Court Judge Feikens to approve his request to spend $12 million more in new payments to existing water contractors for cost over-runs. A high part of that request includes $7.5 million mores for one of the Mayor’s “road-dogs,” and a low part of this new request will cover a $10,000 raise for the Water Director, Victor Mercado. “HEY, DETROIT WATER EMPLOYEES!!!” Can you say, “What the hell is this?” While you are losing your jobs, while these so-called tiny water increases are being used to fund appointed, non-union positions at the six-figure level, while 45,000 more Detroiters are already slated for shut-offs this year, we can’t hear your cries. What is this about…
Finally, this is the last week in the court hearing going on in racist Benton Harbor, where the corporate giant Whirlpool is crucifying a little country preacher, the Rev. Ed Pinkney, for standing against oppression. Whirlpool wants to build condominiums and golf courses but in order to do so, they must scare the Blacks and poor Whites out of their Benton Harbor homes so that they can have their way with the land. Rev. Pinkney is charged with paying three crack heads $5.00 each to vote in a past election, and every day this drama of justice gone awry is played on with the Judge making sure that the unskilled, unprepared prosecutor’s points are properly argued in front of the jury. We pray for Rev. Pinkney, especially since we contacted the three large Methodist Churches in that area asking that they help him…”No,” they said -- he was Baptist. Happy Holidays and remember what Dr. Martin Luther King said…”We are gonna go on, anyhow….”

Mayor's pal may get $8M deal ...

... "to ensure the orderly transition of responsibility." ?!?!?!?!

While some water and environmental activists charge that calls for 'free water' will lead to the takeover of Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (ignoring the fact the the proposed Water Affordability Plan doesn't call for 'free water') this article gives us a better idea of the problems in DWSD. Overpaid administrators with ridiculous golden parachute contracts and overpriced contracts with a friend of the Mayor who happens to be sitting in jail.

I wonder if the $8 million dollar contract has any relationship to the $46,000 contribution to the Mayors campaign that the state is investigating?

What do you think?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Support needed for arrested protester Monday

Dear Friends,

Yesterday a resistance action was held at the Federal Courthouse in Detroit in protest against the U.S. practice of torture and war making. As it turned out, those who were there experienced first-hand the very attitudes and behavior that we were there to protest.

At approximately 4 P.M four of us, including Connie Supan, Cher McKinzie, John Zettner, and I donned black ponchos and hoods and mounted milk cartons placed on the steps of the courthouse in order to present a visual image of the infamous photo taken at Abu Ghraib. Ron Dale also dressed as a detainee and a handful of supporters were also present. A large sign declaring the U.S. guilty of violating human rights was also part of the demonstration. As always, the National Lawyers' Guild provided great support.

From the get-go, the Federal marshals who "greeted" us were abusive and violent. After pulling the milk cartons out from under us, they proceeded to roughly push us off the steps repeatedly, knee us as we held our ground, and verbally taunt us. At one, point they threatened to take away Charlie Rooney's camera, telling him he is not allowed to photograph the building.

It was very disorienting to be hooded - just a very slight taste of what detainees must experience. While the five of us could not see what was going on around us, the shoves and verbal taunts painted a picture that reveals the fascistic direction in which we are headed. The federal marshals no longer have the power to arrest and, we surmise, that feeling frustrated by this fact resorted to violence as a way to exert their control. It was also the first time in a demo or action that I have witnessed authorities take such an explicitly political stand. when they demanded to know who our "leader" was, John responded by saying, "Not George Bush" to which one of the marshals responded, "He's MY leader." One of the marshals recently returned from Iraq and there was a great deal made of that. I wonder if a pro-war rally at the same site would receive the same treatment.

When the Federal authorities with the power to arrest arrived, John Zettner who was standing on the sidewalk was pushed UP the steps in order to justify his arrest. Although a number of Detroit Police officers were at the scene and had the authority to arrest us for being on the sidewalk, they chose not to arrest. At the time of his arrest, John was holding Cher's hand, and Cher felt him being pushed up. He was roughly handcuffed and taken to a car across the street. After his arrest, the rest of us continued to stand on the steps in solidarity with John with the expectation of being arrested and the marshals continued to push us off. At one point, Connie told them that we could sue them for their manhandling and they backed off (charges against the marshals may very well be filed). Surprisingly, they did not arrest the rest of us.

At about 6 P.M. we agreed to leave the site for one hour if the authorities agreed to process John within that time and simply issue him a ticket. Hence, we were shocked when John emerged from the McNamara Building where he was taken by Homeland Protective Serives and charged with creating a disturbance, resisting arrest, and assaulting an officer, ridiculous and erroneous charges, one of which carries a maximum sentence of one year. John's arraignment is scheduled for 10 A.M. Monday, March 20 at the Federal Courthouse and it is important that he have support.

Please, if you are free Monday, try to make it to the courthouse to support our friend who exemplifies the power of nonviolent resistance.

In Solidarity,

Kim Redigan
8460 Riverdale
Dearborn Heights, MI 48127

When he announced the air strikes, President George Bush said, "We're a peaceful nation." Tony Blair echoed him: "We're a peaceful people."
So now we know. Pigs are horses. Girls are boys. War is peace.
- Arundhati Roy

Friday, March 17, 2006

Demonstration Against the War!

Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice: "Demonstration Against the War
3rd Anniversary of the Iraq War
Saturday, March 18.
Gather 4:30 PM at the Coleman Young Municipal Center,
Woodward and Jefferson Avenues in Detroit.
March at 5:30 PM up Woodward Ave. to Central United Methodist Church.
6 PM 'Musicians and Poets Against the War'
Cultural Presentation
2nd floor of Central United Methodist Church
(Woodward at Adams)
Call 313-680-5508 for more information"

UPDATE: Photos from the yesterday's demonstration are available here., not in the Detroit News or Free Press. Go figure!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

This is why we need a new political party!

Senator Russell Feingold has submitted a resolution to censure President Bush and his own party is opposing it!

Using the old 'I haven't read it yet' canard, leading Democratic Senators are declining to address the travesty of a US administration spying on its own citizens.

Sen Joe Lieberman says: "I'd prefer to see us solve the problem."

Well the first step to solving a problem is to admit we have one.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Messages to the Grass Roots

by Maureen D. Taylor, State Chair, MWRO

March 12, 2006--The first of several street demonstrations held at the homes of elected officials accused of gross harm and negligence to the community was held today at the residence of the infamous Monica Conyers, newly appointed to the Detroit City Council by the previous City Clerk, the convicted one -- Jackie Currie. The reason for this grassroots action is because Mrs. Conyers is one of the Council renegades who voted to raise the water rates last Friday in a coup d'�tat that hijacked parliamentary procedures that these elected officials always embrace.

This level of treachery is so critical, that no one in the grassroots community can stand idly by and not chastise those who engineered this assault on our already shaken quality of life. It was imperative to our well-being for these middle-class politicians to hold the line on this issue, until the Water Affordability Program was implemented which would save both the City and the suburbs from having to institute a rate increase. The City was reluctant, but willing to support the Program which would spread out water payments and allow even the destitute to pay without fear of being shut off. The six turncoats that voted to increase the rates sent a message…”we don’t care about the 45,000 who had water disconnected last year, and we are even less concerned about the 45,000 who are budgeted to have a similar fate this year!” There can be no other conclusion.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

March in Benton Harbor, Rally Against Injustice Everywhere!

Rally and March
March 11, 2006

Hopewell Church
796 Highland Ave., Benton Harbor

Sponsored by BANCO

Come to a rally and march to show support for Rev. Pinkney before his trial on trumped-up charges!

Protest the overturning of a valid recall election!

In Benton Harbor, Michigan, residents won a recall vote of a corrupt city commissioner through a successful campaign led by BANCO (Black Autonomy Network Community Organization). Then, in an attempt to circumvent the will of the people, the vote was overturned by a local judge. In a further outrage, community leader Rev. Edward Pinkney of BANCO was arrested on trumped-up charges of alleged vote fraud. He faces a possible sentence of twenty years. His trial is set for March 15. BANCO won't back down and we need your help. We can't let authorities disenfranchise voters and squash dissent in Benton Harbor, or anywhere.

Court witnesses are also needed during the trial.
March 15-17, 8:30am-5pm
Berrien County Courthouse
811 Port Street, St. Joseph

For more information and directions:

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Coca-Cola and Water - An Unsustainable Relationship

As the World Water Forum gets set to start on March 16 in Mexico, we find out that Coca-Cola is one of its leading sponsors. In a world with 1.2 billion people lacking access to clean drinking water, what is Coca-Cola's role in this issue? How much do you want to bet those 1.2 billion people have access to Coca-Cola?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Living in the zoo???

While there is much to agree with in this recent coverage by Metro Times columnist Jack Lessenberry on the Detroit Zoo privatization, it fails to address 2 important issues: 1) the $4 million the state legislature and Mayor Kilpatrick used to force the City Councils hand and 2) the actual remark by Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson that the Detroit City Council belonged in the zoo. For another take on the issue check out the Michigan Citizen here and here.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Charlevoix county special election results

"The results have been tabulated. After checking with both the county clerk and the Charlevoix Courier there is some confusion in the exact totals as of 11:00 pm. But the results are something close to:

John Haggard: 299
Ellis Boal: 47
Connie Saltonstall: 333.

If the above numbers hold, Connie won by a 49% plurality. There were 675 voters, which is 17.5% of the total of 3858 registered voters.

For comparison, the total voters in the November Republican primary between Josh Barnes and John Haggard was 776.

We will know the numbers more exactly by tomorrow morning, but the final result might be that Connie won an absolute majority.

Asked to comment by the Charlevoix Courier this evening I said something along the following lines:

* The result is a surprise to me. I thought John would win, and that I would do better.

* I congratulate Connie and wish her the best of luck.

* It was an interesting campaign, and an issues-oriented campaign, something that Charlevoix has not experienced in recent years.

* My candidacy contributed to the quality of the political discussion, as did the candidates' forum sponsored by the Friends of the Library.

* My vote total was well under 10%, compared to the 18% I gained in running for prosecutor in 2004 against a Republican.

* I can't think of any mistakes I made. Certainly I worked hard.

* When I was considering this run, seasoned political advisors said I would do better to run as an Independent not a Green. The results today seem to vindicate that advice. But I couldn't turn my back on the Green Party. It has values which speak for me and which I hope to instill in the community. The electorate is not prepared for them yet. We have always known our task is monumental. The only thing to do is to persevere. Some day our time will come.

In the next few weeks I will write a more complete summary.


Diary letters such as this one are collected on the 'diary' page at http://ellisboal.org ."