For more than a decade, the Rev. Edward Pinkney has been battling racial injustice, police brutality and corporate influence in Benton Harbor, a poor and predominantly black city on the shore of Lake Michigan.
On Wednesday, the 62-year-old outspoken black activist will do battle in Detroit on a new controversy involving a most unlikely opponent — the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Pinkney filed a $100,000 lawsuit last week against the state and national NAACP and its leaders, accusing them of trying to oust him as president of the Berrien County NAACP chapter contrary to organization bylaws.
He’ll ask Wayne County Circuit Judge Brian Sullivan to halt this Saturday’s election at the Twin City NAACP branch.
“It’s a hostile takeover,” Pinkney said Friday. “The people of Benton Harbor have been kicked around so much, but here comes the NAACP to kick them around a little bit more.”
Michigan NAACP President Yvonne White declined to comment. National officials could not be reached.
Marcus Robinson, a Benton Harbor community development booster whom Pinkney mentions in the suit, said Friday that there is a move afoot to elect more positive and effective leaders of the NAACP branch. He said membership has plummeted under Pinkney.
“Mr. Pinkney has demonstrated very poor judgment in leading the Twin City chapter,” Robinson said.
He said Pinkney is negative, divisive and has repeatedly obstructed and made unfounded charges against Benton Harbor’s civic and business leaders who are trying to revitalize one of Michigan’s poorest cities.
Pinkney admits he is controversial, but said he has done a good job of leading the chapter. He said he has paid a steep price for his activism, noting that he spent 11 months in jail and prison in 2008 on what he said were bogus charges of election fraud and probation violation in a recall campaign.
Read more about Rev. Pickney’s challenges in the Detroit Free Press