Ramona The Liar
Back in Febuary, MOVE's lead propagandist Ramona Africa recorded an interview for Prison Radio in which she sought to update listeners on the latest information concerning the "MOVE 9" (whose latest appeals were recently denied.)
Not surprisingly, Ramona lied, lied, and than lied some more about the case of her MOVE comrades, who are in prison for among other things, the murder of a Philadelphia Police Officer back in August of 1978.
For instance, Ramona made the claim that the police were in a "frenzy" to kill MOVE members during the confrontation. And while there is plenty to criticize the police about in relation to the events of that day, the only ones on a quest for bloodshed were MOVE members.
Police, mediators, and even members of the clergy begged and pleaded for MOVE members to leave the basement where they had barricaded themselves and their children. MOVE's response was to issue threats of violence and grim vows to fight the police to the death. Finally, MOVE opened fire on police and in the ensuing gunfight, Philadelphia Police Officer James Ramp was killed and numerous other police and firefighters were wounded.
Ramona also makes the false statement that the bullet that killed Police Officer Ramp could not have been fired from MOVE members in the basement. She makes the dubious claim that the bullet that killed Ramp entered the base of Ramp's neck and travelled in a downward trajectory. What she does not tell listeners is that her information comes from a very preliminary forensic report. The final and undisputable ballistics evidence concerning Ramp shows that the trajectory of the bullet is consistent with the position of his body in relation to the MOVE members firing from the basement. Ramona also convienently leaves out the fact that when killed, Ramp was assisting another officer who just moments before had been seriously wounded by gunfire coming from MOVE members.
Perhaps the biggest lie of this paticular MOVE interview is when Ramona actually goes so far as to claim that Ramp was killed by a man who was firing from a window of a house "a half a block away." It is true that a man was arrested and taken from a house on Bering Street for allegedly brandishing a weapon. But there is no way that this man could have killed James Ramp, even if he had the proper trajectory, even if he had cause to do so, even if he was involved in some grand conspiracy.
You see, no one has ever disputed the fact that the bullet that killed Ramp was a .223 caliber bullet that came from a Ruger Rifle. The gun that the man allegedly waved out of his window was a revolver. Furthermore, the bullet that killed Ramp was linked conclusively to a 223. Ruger that was found in the MOVE basement. A weapon that was proven to have been purchased by a MOVE member, Phil Africa.
Another oft repeated lie that Ramona never manages to not spew when speaking about the MOVE 9 is the one about "9 MOVE members being in prison for killing 1 cop with 1 bullet." This is not the case and Ramona knows it.
The nine MOVE members were sentenced to 10 to 20 for the murder of James Ramp, 2 1/2 to 10 years for each conviction of attempting to murder seven other officers and firefighters and 2 1/2 to 10 years for conspiracy. The sentences were to run consecutively, which baring any successful appeals, leaves the surviving eight MOVE members elligible for parole in 2008. Interestingly enough, this was not the maximum sentence that the MOVE members could have recieved. The DA had asked that the sentences be 50-100 years which would have no doubt been the equivalent of a death sentence.
There are those in prison for the death of Ramp who are directly responsible for this man's death and there are those who were caught up in a very bad situation who were brainwashed victims of a cult-leader's vicious manipulations and who were not directly responsible, but who instead were simply trying to avoid getting shot themselves.
We cannot forget that the most frequent victims of cults are the cult members themselves. The children who died in 1985 were all children of then imprisoned MOVE members. The power over cult members exerted by leaders of authoritarian sects cannot be underestimated. While we must criticize the MOVE parents for ceding their parental responsibilities, we must, at the same time, recognize the situation that they were in and are still in today.
For these imprisoned MOVE members, the cult is all they have left in the way of hope, or at least that is how they see it. They don't want to die in prison, but they cannot see their way free of the mental and emotional shackles placed upon them by John Africa, so long ago.
At least one of the MOVE members who was involved in the 1978 incident and was released from prison Consuella Africa, has reportedly left MOVE to return to her true family. Sadly, her two daughters died in the fire in 1985 while she was in prison. I wish her luck as I am sure she has a hard road of recovery ahead of her.
I can only hope that the other MOVE members who have given up their freedom for John Africa's all but forgotten "revolution," have the courage and resolve to make the same choice as Consuella and other members who have left over the years.