Sunday, March 13, 2005

In Court With MOVE and John Gilbride

Only 17 days before he was gunned down in front of his apartment, John Gilbride was in court testifying that a long-time MOVE Supporter threatened his life. It just so happens that I was in court that day with other MOVE supporters and members. We were there to support MOVE leader Alberta Africa, in her bid to frame John for assault.

I had never been more embarrassed to be in the company of MOVE people as the "frame up" of John was as obvious as it was disgusting.

To understand the signifigance of that day in court you have to understand what was going on in the custody case at that time.

You see, Alberta was starting to lose her case and she and the Organization were quite unhappy and were, in my view, becoming quite desperate.

Something had to be done. And it just so happens that in New Jersey (where this case was presided over) if one of the parties in a custody dispute is able to have a restraining order put in place against the other party, the ability of the offending party to win a custody case is greatly diminished. So if it were proven in court that John had violently attacked Alberta in her own home, John's fight for the custody of his son (not to speak of visitation rights) would be crushed. John would likely not see his son for a very long time.

Based upon what I saw that day in court, as well as things I had seen and heard prior to the incident, I came to the belief that John was set-up that day, in an effort to paint him as an abuser (which, coincidentally enough, Alberta had just started asserting he was during their marriage).

Oh before I forget. The day before Alberta went to court I saw her with no wrist brace, the next day at court she has a large wrist brace. You all do the math.

But I digress. Anyways to make a long story short, we MOVE supporters were sent to fill the tiny courtroom. Me, because I was one of MOVE’s “writers” was sent in as well as all the women with small babies. The judge gets annoyed with the latter’s presence and sends them on their way and in their place other MOVE members and supporters come in.

Mercifully, the case was the first on the docket. Alberta takes the stand looking very annoyed and scowled at John throughout her testimony. If my memory serves me properly, she recounts some kind of argument with John and then claims that he hurts her wrist. O.k., I was thinking that sounded plausible. As evidence of her terrible injury she offers her wrist brace and an emergency room document that says that she suffered a “contusion” or in plain English a bruise. Keep in mind I am watching her present this evidence a few weeks after the incident with her brace on, looking totally serious while I trying hard not to laugh. A couple of people sitting in front of me, not as restrained as I, chuckle quietly to themselves. Things are starting to look fishy.

Next are Alberta’s witnesses. The usual suspects, Mario, Sue Africa, Carlos Africa, and a couple of other MOVE members all testify that John had brutally grabbed Alberta and hurt her arm. Unfortunately for Alberta, none of her witnesses tell the same story. They all end up contradicting themselves repeatedly while being questioned by the judge. My face is starting to burn red with embarrassment as I realize that some of the people testifying for Alberta probably weren’t even there when the incident occurred. They probably weren’t even in the same damn state!

Note to MOVE. Next time you want to go to court and lie on someone, get your bullshit straight before coming before a Camden County Judge who has probably seen and heard it all.

After Alberta’s crew of liars exits the stage, it was now John’s turn. No one is there to support him except for his father who sits across the room by himself away from the MOVE supporters and other spectators.

John tells of how he came to the house to see his son and how MOVE was waiting for him. At some point there is a verbal dispute. John says he goes to leave and Alberta blocks his path and locks the door. He again tries to leave and Mario pins him against the wall and issues the alleged threat. John either bravely or stupidly pulls out his cell-phone or calls the police.

Now lets see which makes more sense. Alberta plots with her most loyal minions to place John in a situation where he was alone and surrounded by MOVE members. They then, in typical MOVE fashion, set up a “confrontation” with Gilbride in an effort to make him look like an abuser.

Or that John came to a MOVE house full of MOVE’s most dedicated members, roughed up the group’s matriarch, and than calls the police on himself and ruins any chances of seeing his son. Oh, and by the way, John was starting to win the custody case by this time and had no reason at all to provoke a situation with Alberta.

Keep in mind that MOVE had already tried to get John fired from his job, tried to intimidate him into dropping his case, tried to slander him in demonstrations, tried to libel him through email missives, accused his parents of being child molesters and picketed their neighborhood. Nothing had stopped John in his quest to see his son.

Thankfully the judge got it right and ruled against Alberta.

I recall Alberta storming out of the courtroom without a word as court officials chase after her attempting to get her to sign paperwork.

John leaves with his father and a detachment of police who walk with him. A few muted “motherfuckers” are thrown towards them by our dejected crew of MOVE cronies. It was the last time that I saw John.

To read more about the threats against John Gilbride, check out this blog or the following article at the Rick Ross website

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