Non-Compromise And The Murder of John Gilbrde
It is not possible for me to hear a speech from a MOVE member and not get chills down my spine.
While others may casually dismiss the rhetoric as the strange rantings of fanatics, and worse still, some may buy into it, I on the other hand know that MOVE's words are not innocent.
So it is with the murder of John Gilbride on my mind that I listen to an excerpt of Ramona Africa's speech from the "Mumia birthday party", from April 24th.
When I hear one of the architects of the destruction of Osage Avenue opine that "compromise don't benefit nobody" I can only think of how that way of thinking most certainly led to the destruction of life in 1978, again in 1985, and I believe also in John's case in 2002.
It is a fact that MOVE did not "compromise" when it came to the fatal custody dispute. MOVE vowed that John would never have a unsupervised visitation with his son and he didn't. The very night before he was to have the first of his court ordered visitation with his son he was brutally gunned down, by parties still "unknown".
I can imagine the relief that John may have felt as he drove home that night from his job at the airport, full of hope that he may finally, after so many years of struggle and hardship be able to have the contact with his son that so many of us who are parents take for granted. I try to think of the anticipation and no doubt apprehension as he knew full well the threats that had been levelled against him by MOVE. He knew full well that his ex-wife, MOVE's leader had told anyone who would listen that he would never be with his son.
But, despite all of that, John persisted. Unlike MOVE, he was clearly a person driven by love and the innate desire to be a part of, and relish in, the life of his only son, in whatever capacity he could have it. Unlike MOVE, he would not sacrifice his child upon the altar of John Africa's cult and surrender his rights and responsibilities as a father because MOVE willed him to do so.
The campaign waged against him was as foul and vicious and as terrible as one can possibly imagine. I know this because I was there for some of it, helped participate in it, perpetuated it.
I never expected John to be killed, but upon hearing the news of his death I didn't have one ounce of doubt as to where the blame lay.
So today when I hear Ramona Africa's talk of "non-compromise" and "sacrifice" in the fight against the system, I think of the victims of MOVE and the pain that this cult inflicts upon it's purported enemies as well as the children unfortunate enough to have been born into this most vile of sects. The dead and wounded in 1978, the wholesale destruction on Osage Avenue, and the "unsolved murder" of nearly five years ago.
On Sept 27th 2002, someone from MOVE not only killed John, but they tried to kill hope itself and replace it with fear.
In at least the sense of the destruction of the ability to resist, MOVE has failed, but they succeeded in shattering the life of John Gilbride and those who loved him.
So why we may find some solace in the knowledge that people are stepping up with increasing boldness against the insanity of the "Free Mumia" cause, we must never forget that for John and his son, justice remains elusive.
But nobody is forgetting and nobody will forget what was done to him. When we see MOVE or hear about MOVE we must not only remember that they are oppressors of children and celebrators of murder, but also know that killers walk among them un-punished.