The following letter was sent by the Detroit-based Moratorium Now Coalition to top Michigan officials. Rev. Edward Pinkney, an African American community leader in Benton Harbor in western Michigan, needs your support. Please go to the end of the letter to see how you can help with phone calls and emails.
April 7, 2022
To Governor Gretchen Whitmer, State Police Director Colonel Joseph Gafper and DHHS Deputy Director David Knezek:
We are greatly alarmed that Michigan State police are being sent to target and harass Rev. Edward Pinkney, the noted community activist in Benton Harbor, Michigan. On March 25, 2022 Sgt. Hayward of the Paw Paw State Police post and another officer went to Rev. Pinkney’s home. They raised several ridiculous allegations that Rev. Pinkney was selling (donated) water in South Bend, Indiana and that Rev. Pinkney might be tampering with water test results in Benton Harbor. When Rev. Pinkney asked about why the State of Michigan had not paid him for the use of two rooms in his church contracted by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to store filters and water for the past months, the officers accused him of “holding the supplies hostage.” On another recent occasion state troopers came to the church and watched while water was being distributed to community members.
We cannot help but recall that Rev. Pinkney has been the victim of persecution for his community service. He was imprisoned for literally quoting the Bible in an article. This case was thrown out upon appeal but only after Rev. Pinkney spent one year in prison.
On another occasion Rev. Pinkney was arrested, tried and convicted for petitioning to recall the Mayor of Benton Harbor. He spent two and one half years in State prisons. Only after those long years Rev. Pinkney’s case was overturned by the Michigan Supreme Court which found that he had not broken any law. We believe that without mass public support and pressure Rev. Pinkney would have been killed by the guards in Marquette Prison.
So we take it very seriously when State troopers start harassing the Reverend and when spurious charges start to be floated against him.
We demand that you take immediate action to stop the harassment, apologize to Rev. Pinkney and ensure that all officials under your direction cease and desist from any and all further actions that target and endanger Rev. Pinkney.
Moratorium NOW Coalition
Take Immediate Action: Give your name and city. Express your concern clearly and briefly over the phone or via email. Be polite. On the phone, ask them to please take down your message and deliver it to the Governor or State Police Director.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer
Michigan.gov/Whitmer/contact, click Contact the Governor, fill in the information and type in your message
State Police Director, Colonel Joseph Gafper
David Knezek, Deputy Director for Administration, Department of Health and Human Services
313- 864-0161 (cell phone)