1,000 signatures reached
To: Attorney General Eric Holder, Department of Justice, Sen. Patrick Leahy, Rep. John Conyers
Free Rev. Pinkney
Free Rev. Edward Pinkney and drop all charges against him. Charges relating to petition fraud are misdemeanors yet felony charges have been brought against Rev. Pinkney. His conviction by an all-white jury on election fraud charges has resulted in a sentence of between 2.5 and 10 years.
Why is this important?
Rev. Pinkney was charged with altering the dates on a recall petition against the mayor of Benton Harbor
This case is disturbing on many levels:
1. charging Rev. Pinkney without evidence
2. charging Rev. Pinkney with felonies and not misdemeanors
3. lack of evidence during trial that led to conviction (no eyewitnesses, no confessions, even the forensic document examiner with the Michigan State Police could not link Rev. Pinkney to any forgeries
4. severity of sentencing
In an unrelated case, a Michigan Court of Appeals ruled on Friday that election fraud charges are misdemeanors, not felonies. In that case, Brandon Hall, 25, confessed to election fraud and faces up to a $500 fine and up to 93 days in jail for 10 counts of misdemeanor election forgery. In contrast, Pinkney was sentenced to 2.5 to 10 years in prison by Judge Sterling Schrock, who instructed the jury on Friday that “circumstantial evidence can be almost the same as direct evidence.” Hall is white and Pinkney is African-American. Although Benton Harbor is 96% African-American, no African-Americans served on the jury for Pinkney’s trial.
Mary Alice Adams, a Benton Harbor Commissioner, stated that “Reverend Pinkney was accused of writing and changing my date on a petition when in fact, I wrote my own date and changed it after realizing I had put the wrong date down”. The prosecutor and the jury ignored her testimony.
Despite the fact that the crime of altering data on petitions has been a misdemeanor offense under Michigan law, the all- white jury was prompted by a seemingly “political” white prosecutor to ignore the fact that there were no witnesses, nor the slightest morsel of forensic proof that Rev. Pinkney had tampered with the petitions. Based on completely circumstantial evidence, they found Reverend Pinkney guilty of five counts of “felony forgery”, which resulted in a 3-10 year sentence for the community activist at his sentencing hearing December 15th. Reverend Pinkney is 66 years old.
When an all-white jury is chosen to try a prominent black community leader of an embattled, impoverished city with a 90% black population, and when the evidence is entirely lacking and the punishment is draconian, there is ample cause to suspect another egregious breach of justice, as blatant as refusing to indict the policemen who killed an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, and choked a father of six to death in Staten Island. We urge that Attorney General Holder investigate this clearly egregious injustice by the Court, and the blatantly racist conviction that followed.
And we urge all citizens who to stand up for Rev. Pinkney by signing this petition, which will be forwarded to the Justice Department and to the appropriate members of the Judiciary Committees in Congress with a strong request for immediate action.
Please also write or call Judge Sterling Schrock and demand justice for Reverend Pinkney at his appeal hearing February 24th.
Berrien County Courthouse
811 Port Street
St. Joseph, MI 49085
How it will be delivered
Deliver the petition in Washington, DC to the Department of Justice
Deliver the petition to office of Rep. John Conyers in Washington, DC and Michigan
Deliver the petition to office of Sen. Patrick Leahy in Washington and Vermont