News and Information
Thursday November 27th 2014
The Independent Business News Network was established in July of 2008. The goal of IBNN is to provide a different view of the local, national and global news and events that happen in the Black communities around the world. IBNN's expectations are to provide a level of coverage and investigative reporting not seen on local mainstream media, while covering Politics, Education, Money, Business, and Community events. IBNN is an affiliate of Black Politics in Minneapolis, Radical Black USA and other African American news sources. Comments, concerns and questions can be emailed to ibnnnews@gmail.com

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Open letter to MN Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey: Where is the legislative audit trail for funds used in state tour?

Still more homeless veterans in Minnesota’s cold winter; Educational disparities growing at an alarming rate; police misconduct violating the rights of Minnesota citizens and the civil rights contract compliance units in Minneapolis and St. Paul still do not understand the importance of the 32 percent hiring goal. Lets not forget about MnDOT, Met Council or the Airport Commission… almost every local and state agency is lacking in their missions as it pertains to human rights and the enforcement of compliance. So now, what’s the deal with you traveling around the state in an attempt to convince citizens that minority-ethnic councils are not needed? Do you not have work in your own back yard that needs to be done? #MDHRbacklog

The above photo is not a picture of MN Human Rights commissioner Kevin Lindsey. (photo: https://secure.scout.com - Face Palm Puppet)

The above photo is not a picture of MN Human Rights commissioner Kevin Lindsey. (photo: https://secure.scout.com – Face Palm Puppet)

 By Don Allen, Founder – OurBlackNews.com 

St. Paul, Minn. (Updated 12:51 a.m. 11.24.14) – Dear Commissioner Lindsey:

Minnesota Department of Human Rights commissioner Kevin Lindsey.

Minnesota Department of Human Rights commissioner Kevin Lindsey.

A little over two-months ago via the MDHR website contact portal, I asked a question about the funding of the state tour. More specifically, the money allocated that bypassed the ethnic councils for you and staff to travel around Minnesota for this hopeless mission – carrying water for a political agenda and not the people of Minnesota. I got no reply.

There was a time when I thought Senators Bobby Joe Champion and Jeff Hayden could be the gatekeeper’s for the black community. I changed my mind. While I agree with many about the Senate Ethics Complaint and more than likely it will yield no probable cause, the damage has already been done. How will multicultural communities get their voices heard at the Minnesota state capital without the ethnic councils? Until the next election, the senators might be considered to have a vote of no confidence from their constituents and colleagues – so what now?

At a time when Minnesotans from all walks of life need a human rights department to champion the needs of the many, it seems like you have taken the path away from human rights into lobbying to remove, or absorb the minority councils in Minnesota.

This concerns me because the chickens have come home to roost and they are spilling information on a level you could not imagine (more on that later).

In the story, “Residents push for ethnic councils to remain independent,” from the Rochester, Minnesota Post Bulletin, written by Heather J. Carlson wrote, “Residents urged Minnesota’s commissioner of human rights on Thursday to keep the state’s four ethnic councils strong and independent because they are doing vital work in Rochester.” Meeting participant Kolloh Nimley told Commissioner Kevin Lindsey “Since I began working for the Council on Black Minnesotans in Rochester, I have been able to help connect people with the resources and information they need to be able to advocate for themselves. I can’t speak for everybody, but I can empower people. I can give them their own voice,” she said. This is true in the Twin Cities metro area.

While you tour Rochester, St. Could and other city’s in Minnesota to sway concerned citizens against the minority councils, especially the Council on Black Minnesotans, it seems you would need to explain to the citizens of Minnesota how $50,000.00 was allocated for you to “tour the state” at the expense of the taxpayer?

Sources tell IBNN NEWS the allocation of $50,000.00 from the Minnesota State Legislature was an eleventh-hour byproduct of Senator Bobby Joe Champion who some say does not want the ethnic council because he and Senator Jeff Hayden would like to be the exclusive gatekeepers for the minority community. Allegedly, there was no public hearing on these funds. It seems in all fairness, the MDHR’s has violated its own mandate. What say you?

For an agency like the Minnesota Department of Human Rights who clearly states, “The MDHR is a neutral state agency that investigates charges of illegal discrimination, ensures that businesses seeking state contracts are in compliance with equal opportunity requirements, and strives to eliminate discrimination by educating Minnesotans about their rights and responsibilities under the state Human Rights Act,” it seems the MDHR, its commissioner, and some elected official have led the MDHR off course (way off course) from what it should be doing for the people of Minnesota.

This course change can be exemplified in real time by looking at the latest hiring numbers and construction firms, like Ryan Construction, as reported in the Star Tribune is not up to par on the new Vikings stadium. Also the MDHR needs to look closely at the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights, its director Velma Korbel and consistent abandonment of compliance in city contracts. On a state level, the MDHR has not dealt effectively with the Minnesota Department of Transportation or Metro Transit. There are too many open-ended situations in Minnesota the MDHR is either ignoring or as the old folks say, “If I cannot see it; it does not exist.” Lets not forget education in Minnesota. If education is a civil right than our overwhelming learning gaps, lack of black male teachers and the fact children of color do not graduate, nor do they have opportunities for higher education should have been your major concern in 2014. On a personal note, it’s a dirty rotten shame that under your watch, Minnesota veterans are still homeless, cold and hungry.

I understand the people who run these agencies are your friends. You are all connected with the same political party and you might not have the “putz” to address any of it – but this is your job, and your job is not traveling around the state to talk citizens out of the minority councils.

In closing, I think it’s very important to find out how the MDHR is funding this thrill ride and also produce the legislative audit trail. Why is the MDHR commissioner doing the job of the ethnic councils anyway?

 

114,000 African-Americans Drop Out of the Labor Force

News from Breaking Brown.com (photo: logo)

News from Breaking Brown.com (photo: logo)

From Breaking Brown.com

As the employment situation improves slightly for most Americans, African-Americans are still losing ground. Based on the most recent report by the Bureau of LaborStatistics, blacks continue to drop out of the labor force and have an unemployment rate higher than every other demographic except teenagers.

According to the October BLS report, the number of African-Americans not participating in the labor force increased by 114,000 in October. People are defined as not being in the labor force if they are not incarcerated, don’t have a job and are no longer seeking employment.

Also the unemployment rate among blacks is still double that of whites.

“Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for whites declined to 4.8 percent in October. The rates for adult men (5.1 percent), adult women (5.4 percent), teenagers (18.6 percent), blacks (10.9 percent), and Hispanics (6.8 percent) changed little over the month. The jobless rate for Asians was 5.0 percent
(not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier,”reports the Bureau of Labor. At this time last year, the unemployment rate for blacks stood at 12.2 percent.

Further evidence that this country is not recovering in a way that enhances the lives of most Americans is that the number of people who are working part time jobs because they have no other choice, 7 million, was largely unchanged in October.

 "


As Slate reported, this continues to be a recovery of and for the top one percent:

Top 1% incomes grew by 31.4% while bottom 99% incomes grew only by 0.4% from 2009 to 2012. Hence, the top 1% captured 95% of the income gains in the first three years of the recovery. From 2009 to 2010, top 1% grew fast and then stagnated from 2010 to 2011. Bottom 99% stagnated both from 2009 to 2010 and from 2010 to 2011. In 2012, top 1% incomes increased sharply by 19.6% while bottom 99% incomes grew only by 1.0%. In sum, top 1% incomes are close to full recovery while bottom 99% incomes have hardly started to recover.

Minnesota’s training president Louis King to be guest on The Ron and Don Show – Tonight at 8:30 p.m.

Louis King, President of Minnesota's black community.

Louis King, President of Minnesota’s black community.

Take your medication and make sure refills are available at your local drug store. It’s time to get some answers and field questions from our listeners. Summit Academy OIC’s Louis King, a decorated Army veteran, advocate for education in the black community and businessman will be our special guest on Wednesday, Nov. 19 at 8:30 p.m.  - to listen to the show click here. The call-in phone number is  (347) 426-3904.

By The Ron and Don Show

On last weeks program, hosts Ronald A. Edwards and Don Allen tore open a hornets nest on the $26 million dollar proposal submitted to governor Mark Dayton last month. There are many questions about who will actually get money on behalf of Minnesota’s black community and why there are no job descriptions, outcomes or meaningful dialog with local community members about the proposal.  Mr. Louis King will join us at the top of our program (8:30 p.m.) to answer questions within his fold.

This show will also cover:

  • Why is the commissioner of Minnesota Human Rights traveling around Minnesota trying to discourage community member that minority councils are not needed in Minnesota? Who is paying for this. How did $50,000.00 get allocated? Where is the legislative audit?
  • A local preacher has contacted IBNN NEWS to threaten the editor-in-chief with bodily harm. Although this preacher does not know there are forces beyond his comprehension watching his moves and monitoring all conversations.
  • Minneapolis NAACP branch might be dissolved because of faulty_________ (you fill it in).
  • What’s happening with the Minneapolis NAACP? No notices sent out to members will spell disaster for any election.
  • #pointergate: A waste of time and a distraction from the real business of the black community.
  • The Minnesota African American Museum and the pending lawsuit – what happened to the money?
  • Ferguson, Missouri – how many black folks must die before we will overcome? The latest updates live from our sources in that city.
  • University Campuses: Black men need assistance. The campus atmosphere has rejected black-male masculinity in favor of protecting rights for sexual orientation.

Join us tonight for a real look on what’s happening in the black community locally and nationally.

Marxism again? Community Activists wait for $26 million payday; maybe they should start looking for a job

The writer must earn money in order to be able to live and to write, but he must by no means live and write for the purpose of making money.” ~Karl Marx

Which one of our people will oppress us this month?

Which one of our people will oppress us this month?

by Don Allen, Founder – IBNN

According to several definitions of Marxism, it builds on a materialist understanding of societal development, taking as its starting point the necessary economic activities required by human society to provide for its material needs. The form of economic organization or mode of production is understood to be the basis from which the majority of other social phenomena – including social relations, political and legal systems, morality and ideology – arise (or at the least by which they are directly influenced). These social relations form the superstructure, for which the economic system forms the base. As the forces of production (most notably technology) improve, existing forms of social organization become inefficient and stifle further progress. These inefficiencies manifest themselves as social contradictions in the form of class struggle.

The black community of Minneapolis has reached its tipping point. Distractions ranging from political affiliations to media scandals have left us in a bottomless pit of want and desire. New hustles have taken on a whole new level of meaning. A proposal submitted to Minnesota governor Mark Dayton requests a whopping total of $26 million to correct the black communities ills. The proposal with no outcomes, job descriptions or a defined path of success has been at the center of conversation about who represents the black community; in other words, what is the social structure that would let a few surreptitiously speak for the masses in black Minnesota? What forces of production manifested themselves as social contradictions in the form of class struggle?

Still we do not know.

Some in our community – visionaries that understand and see across cultures  do sometimes struggle with the meaning of this outrageous plot. They see better to keep far away than to have communication with the elk of leadership who in some cases represent a barbaric social phenomena cut from the clothe of religion and hypocrisy.

Simply put, there will continue to be struggle. An instant paycheck for a few will not create the sustainability for Minnesota’s black community. Again, while non-black Minnesota deals in billions of dollars, we approach the table of plenty on our knees and ask for but a small pittance of change.

Reading our situation through a Marxist lens will confirm what Karl Marx said: “In bourgeois society capital is independent and has individuality, while the living person is dependent and has no individuality.”  A dialectical view of social transformation.

My Brother’s Keeper #thestruggle

IBNN Editors note: I wrote this article over two-weeks ago for the Hamline University Oracle newspaper where I am the senior columnist. Editor’s (students) have refused to run this story. This is a reflection of the current status of race, color and class constructs where some are hesitant to talk about what’s really going on.

“Say it loud, I’m black and I am Proud.” ~James Brown

by Don Allen, Founder - OurBlackNews.com 

Don Allen, Senior Columnist, The Oracle - Hamline University's student newspaper. They would not run this editorial.

Don Allen, Senior Columnist, The Oracle – Hamline University’s student newspaper. They would not run this editorial.

St. Paul, Minn.  – With the potential race war preparing to erupt in Ferguson, Missouri it’s time for us to come together. We don’t talk to each other when passing on campus. Eye contact is avoided at all costs; it would somehow mean we are communicating with each other. We seem comfortable in circles with people who do not look like us, but might share a common interest. As black American students at HU, I rarely see us in the library. Only a small few participate in campus groups outside of athletics; in some cases, if we are athletes, we come in the fall–sometimes we do not make it to the spring. Our blackness becomes invisible next to our athletic abilities only to come back into focus after we are deposited and used in a sporting way. As veterans, we search for the friendliness promised in words on a website. Our military students made it back to the states safe, only to be shot down on a college campus; many do not return. Respect, honor and loyalty become words with no meaning. We look for the right adjectives to describe a noun and more often than we would like run into words like “angry blackman,” as expected in society’s normative settings. No, we are not victims, but survive as bodies without agency in a system that was never meant to collaborate, facilitate or educate the black male student.

Here at HU, some of us have a clear understanding a college degree does not mean an education, but still we work feverishly in attempting to reset continued real-time generational obstructions that are based in stereotypes and melancholy.  I am my brother’s keeper and it is my duty to warn you of a planned destruction of your hopes, dreams and futures by a system designed with checks and balances to withdraw any achievements in your personal ledger. On a campus where a black men’s circle or leadership group is void the participation of black men exists a troubling social enigma of black male identity and the comfortable vagueness of otherness. The not-so-random violations of civil rights and the absence of conversations about race, equity and student success is the first sign this thing called education might be working out well. If black words in black ink mean nothing in an academic setting, what would make you think a black academics future is of any value? HU has changed the rules of engagement. The conversations about blackness, civil rights and equity have left the campus. The conversations, if any are no longer based on critical academic racial concerns.

While conversations about race, power and masculinity have been productive in past black men circles (locally and nationally), the current actions and remedies for campus racial collaborations are more profoundly defined in conversations about sexual orientation and the protection of rights for those orientations. If education was ever a civil right, privilege has picked who can be afforded this civil right while the original intent of the first civil rights were based solely on a caste of people whose identity was modified from human to less-than-human on the simplistic view of color differences, not sexual orientations. We need to think about what kinds of rights are necessary for students and communities of color if they are to have a chance now and in the future. We have replaced the need to address the young, gifted and black student in favor of creating a protectionist class of fearful identity-seeking adults who look in the mirror and dislike what they see.  To what ends do we need to recreate the academic wheel of race information? Hamline University has virtually ignored it. Diversity is replaced with misdirection; equity is replaced with assumptions of qualification through a lens of post colonialism in 2014. When great black male academic minds like Dr. Shaun R. Harper, from the University of Pennsylvania have done the research and provided not only solutions, but also the vision in journal articles to include, “Black Men as College Athletes: The Real Win-Loss Record” (2014); “In Search of Progressive Black Masculinities: Critical Self-Reflections on Gender Identity Development among Black Undergraduate Men/Men & Masculinities” (2014); and “Five Things Student Affairs Administrators Can Do to Improve Success Among College Men of Color” (2013); it would seem there would be someone smart enough within HU’s administration to put an end to the obstruction of the black body on HU’s campus, understanding you cannot be what you do not see.

HU junior Kaalid Omar, political science and communications studies major is someone I talk to at least once a week; a black male student who is also a member of Theta Chi at Hamline.

Omar, like me, is a freak-of-nature when it comes to a black male student participating at our highest output. I was taken back last week with Omar said, “I might not be here in the Spring” – an all too frightening sign that something inside our beloved Shangri-La has malfunctioned and we have no voice or representation to reset these types of malfunctions. Nuanced racism in the form of stereotypes, target the black male student in the areas of financial aid and campus life. Not knowing how to respond, or in few cases responding, is looked upon as a threatening action by dark academics, whereas others are afforded the conversations and affability of adjustment and redesign sans any penalties. At the end of the day, you (we) are black male students; we must smile, never be angry and do not confront or counter any argument. We must read Poe, study Plato and abandon suggestion that we investigate and concur with the great artisans of African, and black American literature. We must stay in our place, limit our interactions with their women and continue to be invisible – or live inside that double-conciseness wearing only the mask with the smile painted on it.  If you step out of this model, there will be consequences beyond your wildest imagination. This is real life; HU administrators are from the real world.

This is important because some HU administrators think they can be forgiven for not seeing education inequality as a pressing issue. Some HU administrators and staff are paid to keep things, as they are with no action steps to address inequities.  Understanding the race to finish at HU should be the same distance for all; in reality for some black male students the path is lined with hurdles, landmines, pits and venomous snakes. In closing, I love my people; I am my brother’s keeper.

OurBlackNews Exclusive: Excuse me MAAM…what happened to the money for the Minnesota African American Museum? Lawsuit filed in Hennepin County – $129,000.00 (See the full lawsuit posted below)

The lawsuit. To read the fill filing including the lien, click on the photo above.

The lawsuit. To read the fill filing including the lien, click on the photo above.

Also Read the following reports:

1. Will the Minnesota African American Museum become another embarrassment to Black Minnesotans?

2. Minnesota African American History Museum in deep doo-doo: Excuse me MAAM, what happened to the money?

3. Minnesota African American Museum sits Dark, Dusty and still closed. The reasons below…

4. Despite WCCO-TV report, the rhetoric on Black Museum’s money problems makes it clear Franklin National Bank is not the villain here

Part 1: Black Minnesotans might not ever see an African America museum in Minnesota until a full investigation is done to find out what happened to the money.

By Don Allen, Founder – www.OurBlackNews.com

Investigative reporting, outreach and information distribution; IBNN NEWS.

Investigative reporting, outreach and information distribution; IBNN NEWS.

Minneapolis, Minn. – The subject of a black museum in Minnesota has become a personal issue with me. My uncle, Bernie Battle, Sr. was one of the first major black electrical contractors in Minnesota. My father, Donald Allen, Sr. was also one of the first black contractors to do business with the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis in the 1950’s remodeling and building new homes across the Twin Cities. Another uncle, the late Reverend Walter L. Battle revolutionized jobs for youth in the Twin Cities. But yet there is no place to hang a photo, to tell the story or show future generations that black men and women in Minnesota did great works that helped many of us move forward today.

Now we have an issue of accountability. Manor Electric has filed a lawsuit for more than $129,000.00 against the Minnesota African American History Museum (MAAM) along with a host of others to include the Carl and Eloise Pohlad Foundation (See PDF). This means a federal investigation must be launched to find out what happened to millions of dollars received by principals from Minnesota taxpayers and private partnerships.

According to our reports and sources, the museum took a $1.2 million loan from Franklin National Bank, $1 million from the state of Minnesota, $1.5 million in bonds from the City of Minneapolis, $500,000 from five Minnesota corporations, and $300,000 from other sources. One of the dilemmas was the museum failed to meet the condition of the State of Minnesota for granting it money; that Franklin National Bank (now Sunshine), would have first position in a default, or otherwise tax payers of Hennepin County and Minnesota would have to pay. To continue, the museum has to put up new collateral, which it claims it doesn’t have.”

When people scream about accountability, (even me), we need to look in our own back yards first. The face remains there is no black history museum. Why?

Stay tuned.

 

 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxmIk4Mty3smckFMTUxYektsTFk/view?usp=sharing

$26 Million Aid Package for the Black Community of the Twin Cities must be approved…

Community Proposal to Gov. Mark Dayton.

Community Proposal to Gov. Mark Dayton. (Click on Image Above to Download full document.)

To listen to the program on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. – click here. 

By The Ron and Don Show – #blogtalkradio

Tune into The Ron and Don Show on Wednesday, Nov. 12 at 8:30 p.m. as we examine the latest proposal submitted to governor Mark Dayton from the black community of the Twin Cities. These documents have become public record since the submission to the state of Minnesota.  Sources tell The Ron and Don Show that checks will be cut and deposited by Dec. 1.

Feel free to download your copy to follow along as the team of Ronald A. Edwards and Don Allen examine each page, line-by-line and dollar amounts to explain why this work is important. Also, we will talk about board structures and fiduciary responsibility. The phone lines will be open. We want to be sure that all monies are deposited in local banks that do business with the African American community.

Download your copy here:

Community Proposal Budget and Organizations. (Download this document by clicking on the photo above)

Community Proposal Budget and Organizations. (Download this document by clicking on the photo above)

Hamline University Student Veterans Group Salutes Veterans Past, Present, and Future – community members welcomed

Join Hamline University veterans and keynote speaker Reg Chapman from WCCO-TV. (photo: HU Veterans Affairs Organization)

Join Hamline University veterans and keynote speaker Reg Chapman from WCCO-TV. (photo: HU Veterans Affairs Organization)

St. Paul, Minn. (November 10, 2014) – Hamline University’s Student Veterans Affairs Organization in collaboration the Hamline School of Law Student Veterans present their annual Veterans Day Celebration on Tuesday, November 11, 2014 at 6 p.m. in the Carol Young Anderson Center, room 111 (774 Snelling Ave. N, St. Paul). The keynote speaker for this event is WCCO-TV’s Reg Chapman, a Gulf War veteran and a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.

With the university’s history dating back to the 1850s, the event recognizes veterans who have served their country dating from the Civil War through contemporary conflicts in the Middle East. The event, “Saluting Hamline Veterans: Past, Present, and Future” brings together local dignitaries, Hamline veterans, students, staff, and faculty to celebrate and honor the memory and history of veterans in education.

Hamline’s long and proud history of military service began with the Civil War, which erupted in 1861 when the university was just seven years old. Records indicate that 119 Hamline men served in the Union army during the war. The remaining female students made a 9 by 17-foot American flag complete with 34 stars, which flew over the university from a 20-foot pole. The flag is still preserved in Hamline’s Archives today.

This year’s Veterans Day Celebration was made possible through collaborative efforts of the Hamline University’s Student Veterans Affairs Organization, Hamline School of Law Student Veterans, the Hamline University Veterans Support Center, the Dean of Students Office, and through grant from Hamline’s Undergraduate Student Congress (HUSC) and Hamline School of Law’s Student Government. Guests are asked to RSVP at http://www.HURSVP.org.

About Reg Chapman: Reg Chapman joined WCCO-TV in May of 2009. Chapman has been recognized with numerous awards for his work throughout his career, including an Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting, several Associated Press awards and honors from the Society of Professional Journalists. He has also been nominated for several regional Emmy Awards from the National Television Academy for Investigative Reporting. A believer in volunteerism, Chapman donates his time to the Urban League, NAACP, and the YMCA, which has honored him as a Black Achiever. He was also selected as one of Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest for his work in the community. Chapman is a member of the local chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists. He graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a bachelor of science degree in broadcast journalism.

About Hamline University’s Veterans: Since World War II, Hamline students and alumni have been involved with every major conflict, from Vietnam and Korea to Iraq and Afghanistan. Hamline is proud to count among its students and alumni those who have served their country and works hard to support these individuals when they return to or enter Hamline to complete their degrees. Hamline University is committed to supporting veterans and providing them with an exceptional academic experience. The university values the unique experiences and needs of veterans and works to support them in their academic journey — from applying and securing financial aid to preparing for their future career or graduate school.

Benton Harbor, Mich., Civil Rights activist convicted by all-white jury

Also see:

  1. Trial set for Benton Harbor, Mich., activist Rev. Edward Pinkney 
  2. Rev. Edward Pinkney criminalized again, under house arrest in Benton Harbor, Mich. 
  3. Benton Harbor activist appeals for support in fight against frame-up 
  4. Racist injustice in Michigan 
  5. Six unelected men deliver blow to Civil Rights

By  – Guest Contributor – IBNN NEWS

Rev. Pinkney, right, at “Occupy the PGA” protest, May 2012.

Rev. Pinkney, right, at “Occupy the PGA” protest, May 2012.

The Rev. Edward Pinkney was found guilty of five felony counts of forgery stemming from a recall campaign against Mayor James Hightower of Benton Harbor, Mich., earlier this year.

The all-white jury in St. Joseph, Mich., deliberated for nine hours and delivered the verdict on Nov. 3. The sentencing date has been set for Dec. 15.

Hightower was the subject of the recall campaign due to his refusal to support a local income tax measure designed to create employment for the people in Benton Harbor, located in Berrien County in the southwest region of the state. Hightower is often accused by residents of Benton Harbor of being more concerned about the well-being of Whirlpool Corp. and other business interests than the people he is sworn to protect and serve.

During the five-day trial, not one witness said they saw Pinkney change any dates or signatures on the recall petitions. During the opening arguments on Oct. 27, Berrien County Prosecutor Mike Sepic told the jury that they would not hear anyone say that they had witnessed the defendant engaging in fraud.

The prosecutor’s case was supposed to be based on circumstantial evidence. Nonetheless, the tenor of the questioning by the prosecutor seemed to suggest that the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO), the group Pinkney leads in Berrien County, was actually on trial for its uncompromising opposition to the role of Whirlpool Corp. and its supporters within the political establishment in Benton Harbor and its environs.

Prosecution witnesses backed recall

In the testimony of eight witnesses called by the prosecution on the first day of the trial, all had supported the recall of Mayor Hightower. The witnesses said that they never saw Pinkney change any petitions.

Prosecution witness Bridgett Gilmore told the court that she circulated the recall petitions for George E. Moon and had no contact with Pinkney during the process. While the prosecutor asked her about what appeared to be minor changes on the petitions she circulated, defense lawyer Tat Parrish pointed out that none of these pages in question were the ones which Pinkney was charged with altering.

Gilmore noted that two types of ink were used on some of the signatures because the circulation process took place during the winter and a pen would freeze requiring the usage of another one. When Gilmore turned over the petitions to Moon, Pinkney was not present.

“There were many people calling for Hightower’s recall,” she said.

Another witness called by the prosecution, Majorie Carter, indicated that she received the recall petitions from the City Clerk’s office. Carter supported the recall because she believed that businesses should pay taxes to create jobs in Benton Harbor, a majority African-American city which suffers from extremely high unemployment.

Carter said that she was a registered voter and had campaigned for candidates before. She noted that she had run for city commissioner in the past.

“I collected signatures for the recall from my apartment complex for seniors,” she said. “One signer corrected a date on the petition.”

Mable Louise Avant testified after being called to the stand by the prosecution. She said she had met Pinkney at a BANCO meeting.

“I had been living in New York and when I returned and saw how Benton Harbor had gone down, something needed to be done,” Avant said.

“People make mistakes,” she emphasized. “Rev. Pinkney had nothing to do with the mistakes. I turned over the petitions to Rev. Pinkney.”

The petitions that Avant circulated were not the ones that Pinkney was accused of altering.

Benton Harbor resident George E. Moon also took the stand for the prosecution, and indicated he had circulated petitions for the recall of Hightower. When asked by the prosecutor where he got the idea about recalling the mayor, Moon responded by saying: “My ideology is different than the mayor. People should be elected and not bought.”

“I am an activist,” Moon declared. He said he had spoken out in favor of the recall in the community.

Overall, more than 700 people signed the recall petitions, most of which were validated by the local election commission. A date was set for the recall election.

Nonetheless, after Pinkney was indicted and placed under house arrest for several weeks, the recall election was cancelled by a local judge who raised questions about the signatures. Yet later, another judge certified the petitions and authorized the recall election to proceed.

The local authorities in Berrien County challenged the election, which was scheduled for Nov. 4. The Michigan Court of Appeals then cancelled the recall election again.

Hightower remains in office and was called as a prosecution witness during the first day of the trial.

James Cornelius, a Benton Harbor resident who sponsored the recall campaign against Hightower, took the stand, saying that he got the petitions from Pinkney to circulate. “Hightower was not doing a good job,” Cornelius told the court.

Many of the prosecution’s questions related to the meetings, ideology, membership and leadership of BANCO. During the course of the prosecution’s questioning of witnesses, numerous observers were ejected from the courtroom for various reasons.

One activist who traveled from Detroit was told he had to leave because he was “smirking.” Another observer from Detroit was asked to leave because she shook her head in disbelief of the proceedings, which she felt presented no evidence to incriminate Pinkney.

Rev. Pinkney to seek delay in sentencing

After the announcement of the verdict, Pinkney indicated that he was disappointed with the decisions of the all-white jury. This is the second time within seven years that he has been convicted by a Berrien County jury.

In 2007, Pinkney was found guilty of tampering with absentee ballots involving another recall campaign against two Benton Harbor city commissioners. He was sentenced to one year of house arrest and four years of probation.

However, in December of 2007, while under house arrest, Pinkney was charged with threatening the life of a Berrien County judge after he published an article in the People’s Tribune newspaper quoting biblical scriptures. He was sentenced to 3-10 years for violating his probation.

A national campaign involving the Michigan American Civil Liberties Union along with numerous community, academic and religious organizations resulted in a successful appeal that released Pinkney from a state prison after serving one year. He has continued to be a major critic of the authorities in Berrien County.

In 2010, BANCO opposed the transferal of land from Jean Klock Park to a privately owned venture known as Harbor Shores Development. The park, which had been designated for free public usage in 1917, was turned into the Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course on Lake Michigan.

Two years later, in 2012, BANCO organized the “Occupy the PGA” to oppose the holding of the senior tournaments in Benton Harbor that year. Hundreds attended the march and rally, drawing the ire of the local business interests and county officials.

On the most recent convictions for felony forgery, Pinkney said: “I was in shock more than anything else because I could not believe they could find me guilty with no evidence at all. They have proven the fact you don’t need evidence to send someone to prison.”

Pinkney added: “Sometimes somebody has to take a bullet and I just took one. It was in the leg though, it wasn’t in the heart. I’ve got about 45 good days and then we are definitely going to request a delay in sentencing.”

Prosecutor Mike Sepic said after the convictions that “each of those felony counts carries a 5-year maximum, but he has at least three prior felony convictions. That makes him a habitual offender, which turns those five-year maximums into a life maximum and actually elevates the guidelines that will be scored for him as well. I believe it will be either a lengthy jail sentence or prison sentence.”

Supporters of Rev. Pinkney are outraged by the jury verdict. Many of them are committed to working for an appeal of the convictions.

Legacy of racism and national oppression

Berrien County is notorious for its racism against African Americans. Police brutality, large-scale home foreclosures, high unemployment and the systematic forcing of people from the majority African-American city of Benton Harbor have been standard policies for years.

In 2003, after the police chased an African-American motorcyclist, resulting in a crash and his death, the African-American community in Benton Harbor rose up in rebellion that lasted for several days.

Although the then governor, Jennifer Granholm, pledged to provide assistance for the improvement of conditions in Benton Harbor, no action was taken other than the privatization of Jean Klock Park and the appointment of an emergency manager in 2010.

Although Benton Harbor is ostensibly out from under emergency management, the city is subjected to the more powerful and predominantly white St. Joseph, where the county court system is based. The fact that an all-white jury was impaneled in such a racially sensitive case in an area with deep historical tensions, speaks volumes with regard to the lack of sensitivity existing among the county authorities and the corporate interests.

The Republican Party of Minnesota must start over to begin again

Congratulation to  Tom Emmer a true winner. (photo: Don Allen (l) with Emmer - IBNN)

Congratulation to Tom Emmer a true winner. (photo: Don Allen (l) with Emmer – IBNN)

Congratulations to congressman elect Tom Emmer, a true people’s candidate. As far as Jeff Johnson and Mike McFadden, if your party headquarters has one token black person and you do not go into the “American Black” communities of the Twin Cities, you will lose. Not one time did Johnson or McFadden collaborate with the black community of the Twin Cities. Both candidates lost their races the minute they started.

By Don Allen – Political Critic, New Republican and Premiere Trash Talker

Minneapolis, Minn. – The Minnesota GOP led by chairman Keith Downey should be licking his wounds while packing up his office and resigning. First fact: Candidates endorsed by the MNGOP cannot win until MNGOP changes its redneck platform. The Republican Party of Minnesota has always aimed to be the top political party in Minnesota. Unfortunately, republicans have aimed in the wrong direction. As seen in Tuesday’s elections, GOP candidates are not winning local races in congressional districts, governor and senate races. The state party office is struggling with no strategic communications; a chairman who is afraid of his own shadow, little to no money to support local candidates due to overwhelming debt and a secretary who lathers in political arrogance. Minnesota republicans – some supporters of local candidates must make a choice to support the state party offices or an individual candidate; for the most part, money is sent to the candidates. At this point, the state party also must decide if filing bankruptcy is in the best interest of the state party.

The start-up of a new Minnesota Republican Party with united factions might be a prime opportunity to get media coverage and distribute real-time information about the MNGOP and republican endorsed candidates.  The Republican Party of Minnesota needs a complete overhaul from the rooter to the tooter.

The Minnesota GOP needs to develop new talking points customized for Minnesota’s highly liberal-leaning population that focuses on issues that more people have in common verses antiquated talking points like fiscal responsibility and small government, which means nothing to a citizen without a job. GOP endorsed candidates are not winning elections; local state candidates have to rub nickels together in hopes they can deliver a message about their candidacy. 2014 was it for the current leadership of the MNGOP. Now they either reorganize or face political extinction Minnesota.

The Minnesota GOP State office has not been able to design and distribute a campaign that would address current political challenges in Minnesota, but choose to only make contact with its current GOP base. Tuesday’s election proved republican candidates; especially those running for high-profile positions like governor and the senate cannot take on the likes of Al Franken or Mark Dayton. Of course the Minnesota GOP has maintained that some congressional districts are not a priority; again has seen with the painful losses to Congressman Ellison (CD5) and Betty McCollum (CD4).

Every two years, GOP endorsed congressional candidates (4 and 5th CD) lose to the DFL incumbent by a landslide. The MNGOP refuses to engage outsiders meaning there has not been any community meeting about civil rights, education, or economic opportunities since former governor Tim Pawlenty was campaigning to become governor of Minnesota. Civil Rights are part of the MNGOP platform, but party members are apprehensive to address any issues involving civil rights. This includes local, state and federal contract compliance issues.

Party members have formed silos within the party; abandoning support for the GOP state party in favor of only supporting the GOP endorsed candidates. The Libertarians, supporters of Ron Paul have a large base; The Minnesota GOP excludes Ron Paul supporters citing they are dangerous to the party. There is no evidence in support of the MN GOP position on the Libertarians. The Minnesota Tea Party Patriots have separated themselves from the state party due to an attempted infiltration of hardcore right-wing birthers and racist, which hurt Minnesota’s Tea Party base and candidates.

If the Republican Party of Minnesota had any brains, they would know what a rebranding campaign looked like and stop singing to loosing campaigns and a platform that should of died with Osama bin Laden.

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