It was a wonderful afternoon in Benton Harbor with intervals of great sadness. Not only in mourning for T-Shirt, but for the homeless and mentally ill human beings roaming the streets.
It’s easy to understand why Rev. Edward Pinkney has a tone of desperation and urgency in his voice at times. Almost unfathomable is the inhumane cruelty of one of the world’s wealthiest corporations, which is letting this happen within mere blocks of their headquarters. The argument can be made that it’s happening because of the corporation’s outsourcing. Would they EVER let this happen in St. Joe? (you can answer…)
Many thanks to all who attended the the Terrance “T-Shirt” Shurn Memorial Rally last Saturday. It marked the eight-year anniversary of the Benton Harbor uprising, a public response to the June 16, 2003 high-speed Benton Township police chase resulting in the death of Terrance “T-Shirt” Shurn.
(Click on http://www.wsws.org/articles/2003/jul2003/bent-j15.shtml to read account of rebellion.)
During the course of the afternoon there were between 200 and 300 people listening to speakers and bands, and partaking of the catered food. Rev. Pinkney read a poem he wrote for T-Shirt, What Is Next? An inspiring speech was given by Fred Hampton Jr. from Chicago, some highlights of which are at the end of this report. The rap group Stargang performed an excellent original song. Ellis Bethea sang (beautifully) We Are America with input from recorded Rachel Maddow talking about BH – unusual to say the least! Two other bands were Big Dudee Roo and Chicago blues band, Amoree. Rev. P. led the audience in 3 minutes of silence, a very simple but very moving tribute to T-Shirt.
(Click on http://injusticebusters.com/2003/Benton_Harbour_Riots.htm to read account of death of Arthur Partee at hands of police, prior to Terrance Shurn’s death; Partee’s death also helped cause rebellion.)
Law enforcement profiling and brutality, Whirlpool land grab and destruction, Whirlpool outsourcing of jobs to Mexico, and state takeover of BH are all actions which oppress residents. Pinkney spoke about this, and took the opportunity to educate. He said the dictatorship called Emergency Financial Management is facism. Whirlpool has been systemically destroying the city and driving citizens out; the new governor Rick “the Ricktator” Snyder is now assisting the corporation as did the former gov., Jennifer Granholm.
Other points made by Pinkney:
–Gone is democratic self-rule in BH. Almost gone is collective bargaining. Public discourse is minimized as local elected officials are stripped of authority. The EFM, Joseph Harris, can: remove elected officials without permission from the people, disburse all state-fed.-local funds without oversight, reject-modify-or-terminate any contract, sell off local gov. property, borrow money, and ignore notice requirements for the public in the adoption of ordinances.
–12,600 families will be thrown off welfare rolls on Oct. 1. They also lose health insurance and food stamps. Every month thereafter more families will be eliminated. If you have been on welfare for 3 years, you have just 1 year left.
Several of many points made by Fred Hampton Jr.:
–oppression is embarrassing.
–what they have in mind for our “new housing” is either the penitentiary or the graveyard.
–gentrification = land grab.
–it’s important to distinguish between the ability to articulate and intelligence.
–the will of the people is greater than everything else including technology and politicians.
He stated that he’s been struggling with law enforcement since before he was born. During the violent Chicago police death of his father, a cop put a gun to the pregnant mid-section of his mother. (She was pregnant with Fred Jr.)
In talking privately with Hampton, it was learned that his family is guarding the legacy of his father to maintain it’s integrity. There are two places on facebook where this information can be accessed: The Real Chairman Fred Sr. and Who We Be POCC. Type in Fred Hampton Jr. at youtube.com for speeches by him.
On Satursday we registered more than 400 hundred people to vote. We now have a total of 700 .Our goal is two thousand young voters.
Every Sunday on http://blogtalkradio.com/rev Pinkney at 5 pm eastern time
Fred Hampton Jr. will be our guest Sunday, June 26. Do not miss it.
Call Rev. Pinkney anytime
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