Increasingly, over the last quarter of this year, there has been agitation
on the part of MOVE members and supporters pertaining to the impending parole of the surviving eight members of infamous "MOVE 9".
Despite the fact that the parole board will not be considering granting parole to the convicted murderers of Police Officer James Ramp for two years, the group has initiated a public campaign ostensibly aimed at garnering public pressure as a means to "pressure" the parole board into releasing the MOVE members.
On the surface, this type of campaign seems to be par for the course for MOVE. The usual rhetoric of self-pity and martyrdom ooze forth without even a nod towards the truth or common sense, but again, this is something that could be seen as typical of MOVE’s propaganda mis-adventures.
But, what I have learned from being around MOVE for so many years, and now as the most visible opponent of it, I can say without hesitation that there is frequently a tremendous disconnect between what MOVE says and what MOVE means. Often enough, the actions that they send their supporters out on, have at the very least duplicitous goals.
So while I take note of the rhetoric and stances that MOVE members and supporters are taking towards this parole issue, I must similarly take note that these same stances seem counterintuitive and counterproductive to their stated goals.
And it is not just the rhetoric that brings me to make this an issue.
Take for instance the following facts:
-The legal struggle for the freedom of the "MOVE 9" was abandoned completely earlier this year, but in reality the legal fight for the MOVE prisoners was put on a back-burner as Mumia’s case began to take center stage.
-While Mumia was provided with the best legal resources available, the "MOVE 9" were given a
second rate attorney. One attorney for all nine MOVE members (eight after the 1998 death of Merle Africa.)
-Legal appeals languished in limbo, not because of the "system", but because MOVE had issues with paying their legal bills, this while Jamal was given the full attention, time, and devotion of MOVE’s leadership and devotees of the group.
So, MOVE’s devotion, at least in the sense of the legal struggle can, at the very least, be called into question. From my view, it is rather apparent that as Jamal’s star shined, the cause of freeing the "MOVE 9" became de-prioritized.
It is not hard to see why. Jamal, articulate, not completely beholden to the ideology of John Africa, was far more marketable than were the more abrasive and more obviously cultish devotees of MOVE. As usual, even in so-called "radical politics" one can follow the money trail in order to ascertain where loyalties and priorities are held.
But perhaps more important than the profitability of leading the "Free Mumia" movement is also the question of maintaining the existing power structure of MOVE.
The world of MOVE that exists today is a far cry from the one that the eight surviving members of the "MOVE 9" left when they were arrested in 1978. Back in the 1970's John Africa who lived the life of austerity that he preached, was at the peak of his rule of the group. Now, as 2007 approaches, MOVE is controlled with an iron grip by Alberta Africa, a controlling woman with expensive tastes, lives in an expensive neighborhood, and has birthed a child via in vitro-fertilization and is on her second marriage to a white man (she was married to John Africa, but was in prison when he died in 1985.)
But more than just controlling, Alberta is maniacally cynical. I would not be shocked at all to learn that she would sabotage the parole of her "family" in order to ensure that her role as MOVE’s unquestioned leader stay firmly in place. She personally has nothing to gain by the release of the "MOVE 9" and has a good deal to lose.
While the MOVE prisoners have largely lived the austere life that John Africa proscribed, at least as much as they could while in prison, Alberta has lived a life opposite. She has embraced all of the things that the "system" has to offer, from the genetic manipulation that led to the birth of her child to the indulgence of alcohol and numerous other prohibitions of John Africa. She lives in a well-manicured upper middle class home with her latest "husband" Gary Wonderlin, a long-time MOVE supporter and real-estate agent.
There is no doubt in my mind that if MOVE members were to arrive home from jail to see the anti-thesis of John Africa’s "revolution" being played out by the group’s heir apparent, that there would be the kind of schism that would, at the very least, dismantle the life of comfort that Alberta has built for herself.
There is also the financial burden of eight convicted murderers, cultists, largely unemployable,
and wholly dependant upon the cult for their well-being. They are not the twenty something, able bodied, young men and women who went into prison some thirty years ago. They are practically senior citizens with nothing more than a sturdy devotion to the warped teachings of John Africa to guide them.
To put it simply, they are worth more to MOVE in prison than out of prison.
While in jail, the "MOVE 9", while not as alluring or financially attractive as Mumia, contribute to the mythology of the sect as one that is perpetually persecuted. The cause of attaining freedom for these MOVE members provides a convenient conduit of energy that is both pointless and fulfilling.
No authoritarian cult can exist without it’s "true believers" being deeply involved in a "cause". The likely futility of said cause is largely irrelevant. For the ultimate goal is not the success of the cause, but rather a means to an ends. That end being the continued psychological enslavement of the cult member or adherent.
For MOVE, this control is the goal and achievement which trumps all others. After all, after thirty years in prison the "MOVE 9" has stayed loyal to the cause, why ruin a good thing?