(Pic of myself on the far left top with memebers of the "MOVE 9" and other MOVE supporters from a prison vist)
As usual with MOVE, there is a marked distinction between the rhetoric they espouse, their intentions, and the reality of any given situation.
In 2008, the surviving eight members of the so-called "MOVE 9" will be eligible for parole after serving thirty years out of their thirty to one hundred year sentences for the killing of Police Officer James Ramp and the wounding of numerous other police officers and firefighters during the 1978 confrontation.
MOVE is making a lot of noise about "bringing their brothers and sisters home
". But just how sincere is the group in it’s efforts and why would the leaders of the group want to keep their fellow cultists locked up in prison?
From my vantage point, it seems that MOVE wants to keep it’s members right where they are.
Remember Tookie Williams?
He was the former gang member who was executed in 2005 for the murder of three people.
There was a world-wide campaign waged to urge California’s Governor to spare Tookie’s life that centered around the idea that Williams had reformed himself and had turned his life around.
Governor Schwarzenegger was unswayed and refused clemency for Williams citing amongst other things the fact that Williams had dedicated a book to murderers such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, George Jackson and MOVE members John Africa and Ramona Africa.
The principles behind petitions for clemency and for those of parole share some distinct similarities.
Generally, to receive parole, particularly in situations where a violent crime has taken place, one must take accountability for their actions, display an appropriate degree of remorse, have a plan in place that will demonstrate to the parole board that the offender will refrain from the kind of activity that brought them to prison in the first place. There are of course other factors, but these are some of the more critical ones that are weighed by the parole board.
MOVE, knowing full well that these parole hearings are but a little over a year away published a statement that challenges the premise of the entire idea of parole. Such rhetorical bombast is typical MOVE, but what is not typical is instead of portraying the imprisoned MOVE members as victims of oppression they are instead referred to as "soldiers". Keep in mind that these "soldiers
" as Ramona Africa refers to them as, are convicted of a murder that occurred during
what could easily be described as urban warfare.
So the plan is to go before the parole board as MOVE "soldiers
But for the potential parolees the tone of the message gets even worse when it is declared at the Mumia
website that:"...if we can push to bring home our paroled political prisoners we will have greatly increased our workforce to bring home all political prisoners: those eligible for parole and those who aren’t!"
The above statement which is worth perusal more than once quite explicitly states that if freed these MOVE members will set about the vile work of freeing other convicted criminals. There is no mention of them seeking gainful employment or becoming some kind of productive member of society...
No there is none of that.
Just a vow that MOVE members will continue the "work
" they have done for over thirty years now, the kind of work that leads trails of blood and tears.
Aside from this rhetoric of "revolution
" is the very real air of suspicion that surrounded the group after the murder of John Gilbride, the investigation of which is becoming more obviously directed at the cult to which John formerly belonged. As John Gilbride’s father himself stated in the Philadelphia Inquirer in September of last year "The investigators know where the responsibility for John's murder lies
," Jack Gilbride asserts. "They just don't know with whom it lies.".
Prior to John’s death, MOVE had went to a war-like state of alert with their home barricaded and threats of a confrontation if the courts pressed the issue of John visiting his son. They vowed that John would never have unsupervised visitation with his son and they were right as he was murdered the day he was to have his first such visitation.
In letters from MOVE members in prison, the attitude towards John's murder was one of barely muted, albeit obvious, happiness. Debbie Africa had this to say about John's death in a letter from December of 2oo2, just a couple of months after the murder:"The situation concerning our sister, Alberta and Zack is resolved. We want to thank any and all of you who helped in the situation with Alberta and Zack....Y'all are the greatest."
In April of that year, Chuck Africa went even further with his candor regarding John's demise:
"Well, anyways it all worked out (the custody case). The folks out there really didn't believe the city would attack. Later I saw the psychology behind what happened & how it was handled. The city just couldn't afford to be aggressive becuz of May 13th and people were too aware of what was going on then? Do you understand what I am saying? It was really unlikely that things would turn out like they did. But, I was so relieved that things worked out. I don't need no more of my family killed, hurt, or imprisoned, as well as my friends and supporters."
A man who believes the murder of an innocent man is a pleasant outcome to a custody dispute perhaps needs more than the thirty years he will have already served when he goes up for parole, because he clearly still does not grasp the value of human life.
Aside from their rather unwise statements there is also the fact that the "MOVE 9" have been literally legally abandoned while non-MOVE member Mumia soaks up the group’s energy and resources and is represented by one of the finest appellate lawyers money can buy.
Instead of attorneys to plead their cases the imprisoned MOVE members are expected to rely solely on the power of John Africa, which apparently hasn’t worked well for the past three decades given the fact that the "MOVE 9" have been guests of the state since 1978.
But as the saying goes "the definition of insanity is to repeat the same behavior over and over expecting different results
". Indeed if any one axiom can be readily applied to MOVE, it is that one.
So why would MOVE’s leaders want to keep their "brothers and sisters
" permanently caged? The answer is rather simple. Power. MOVE members come out of prison and Queen Alberta is summarily dethroned for her excesses and flagrant violation of all of the laws that John Africa ever set down.
As I have written before, 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, in 2007, MOVE is controlled with an iron grip by Alberta Africa, an arrogant narcissist who 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.
I recall vividly a few years after the death of Merle Africa, one of the MOVE 9, Alberta glibly attributing her death to not being sufficiently following the teachings of John Africa. Yet, it was Merle’s commitment to MOVE’s eschewing of preventative health care that prevented the cancer that took her life from being discovered!
There are few people who can be so crass and filled with unjustifiable arrogance all at once.
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, with thirty years in prison the "MOVE 9" has stayed loyal to the cause, why ruin a good thing?