"I could get killed for what I'm doing, but I have to do it."
-John Gilbride prior to his murder
Five years ago today, John Gilbride’s body was torn apart by bullets.
He did not live through that barrage of gunfire, aimed at him by parties still "unkown" to the police, who likely stalked him and waited for him to arrive home so that they could murder him in cold blood.
John was killed for the "crime" of wanting to be a father to his little boy. He was killed for his un-willingness to bow to the wishes of the death-cult of which he was formerly a part of.
But, what did not die that evening was his spirit and dedication to his son. His struggle for justice
Nor did his courage in the face of evil.
Here was a man who had taken everything that MOVE and it’s misguided supporters, myself included, could throw at him and he could stand tall. He had endured threats that he had to know deep in his heart were not hollow rhetoric. He had been able to break through the psychological manipulation and terror inflicted upon him while he was in MOVE that only worsened as he left the cult and began the painfully slow process of working through the bureaucracy of the court system to be able to see his only child.
More than that, he had to accept that his son was being turned against him by a woman whose insane vision of creating a "white messiah" for the cult she led, fueled her hatred, and blinded her to the pain that she inflicted and continues to inflict. John’s ex-wife, Alberta Africa, cared not for him, not for their son, only for herself, as the poison of John Africa’s "teachings" had long ago twisted her into the maniacal, vicious, destroyer of life, that she is today.
Alberta hid behind her supposed "religion", a faith that she only adheres to when it serves her purposes, as a means of attempting to manipulate the courts into keeping John’s child out of his reach.
When it became clear that the family courts were starting to see through her fictional and cynical facade of piety that masked her vulgar display of hypocrisy, she altered her tactics.
It became utterly brutal. John’s own parents were libeled and slandered as "abusers". His own career was not safe as MOVE members and supporters called the airline where he worked to tell them that they had a "terrorist" in their midst.
Judges were picketed, Philadelphia’s politicians along with those of New Jersey came under attack by MOV, nor were members of the press safe who tried to cover the issue before and after John’s death as threats were cryptically aimed towards them. MOVE members and supporters barricaded the cult’s headquarters in order to evoke in Philadelphia, the terrible memory of the events of May, 13th 1985.
What could have and should have been a custody case of the variety that occur every day in this country became an exercise in crass manipulation of MOVE’s support network, the media, and politicians, who were collectively struggling to understand how a custody dispute could go so far off the charts. Nobody, outside of MOVE’s inner circle could have known how far things were truly going to go.
Although we had all heard Alberta Africa and other MOVE members vows to never let John have un-supervised access to his son, I don’t think many amongst us who were acting in concert with MOVE could have expected them to take as far as murder. But that is what happened.
And although it is true that nobody has been arrested yet. We do know that investigators have ruled out the nonsensical conspiracy theories that MOVE trotted out after John’s death, that were as rehearsed and contrived as anything I have been a witness to. From Alberta’s fake tears, to the mock outrage expressed by other MOVE members who blamed the "system" for John’s death.
Does it not raise suspicion in anyone other than myself that MOVE has clearly done whatever they can do to blot John out of existence? It is not good enough for them that he is dead and gone. They want his story, what he went through, the suffering they imposed upon him because he wanted to be a dad to his little boy, to simply disappear. Is it not shocking that a group whose entire marketing scheme is predicated upon the martyrdom of it’s adherents, refuses to acknowledge John’s life and death? After all, according to MOVE he was killed by the "system" because he wanted to go back to the "cult".
Much has been said and many things have changed in the past five years. What has remained constant is the fact that for John and ultimately his little boy who is still in the grip of MOVE, justice has been elusive.
I have discovered that I am not the only one to abandon MOVE, not by a long-shot. We have all observed the slow decline of the cult responsible for John’s death along with the inevitable diminishing returns from the faux cause of freeing Mumia. Mumia, the MOVE apologist, and cash cow for the sect, who from death row did his part in MOVE’s war against John.
Although I never met John Gilbride or saw him outside of our protests against him, I feel he is a now a posthumous friend and know that if I can embody any part of his physical and mental courage, that I am much the better for it.
I have seen a number of MOVE’s tactics that were used against John be turned on me. And I am disappointed to say not just by current members of the cult. Call it karma. This only proves to me the residual effect of authoritarian groups cuts deep and that although one may have abandoned one particular cult, the very same factors that caused your susceptibility to such a scheme still exist. If you don’t root them out, you may find yourself making a change for the same, one mental prison for another, an example of the axiom that insanity is defined by repeating the same behavior again and again while expecting different results.
But if these last five years have taught me anything, it is that hope is the brightest of the lights that guide. I have come to know people whose commitment to justice inspires and serves as dignified examples of how to make it through the worst of adversities. I have met people whom I could help and have met many who have helped me, many of whom had absolutely no reason to trust, nor care anything about me.
I have re-discovered the authentic love of family that will forever eclipse the conditional and contrived emoting that passed for love in a cult. And I have learned that while many who care about me don’t quite get while I do this, they do understand there is a need for somebody to do it.
But for all that I have learned and accomplished, there is the constant reminder that the world is rife with injustice.
The struggle that John Gilbride waged was not in vain as long as people continue it. The terror that is MOVE must be thoroughly and consistently rebuked. The torrent of lies that is spread through the internet about the sect must be combated and venues and groups that provide MOVE with safe havens will be exposed as the enablers of a cult that is wedded to death, a wicked ideology, and the abuse of children.
For John Gilbride, the children of MOVE, the families of loved ones who are lost in the cult, and for those who may unwittingly get caught up in the group’s web I continue.
And while I don’t do it near enough I thank everyone who has sent me kind words of encouragement, offered advice, and most importantly those who do what they can to keep John’s memory and fight for justice alive.
For More about John Gilbride, search this site, as well as the main site about MOVE
. Also, try goggling his name cross-referenced with MOVE. Read what MOVE has had to say about John, how their story switched over and over again. And today notice their silence. It speaks volumes about John and about MOVE.