(there is me on the top left, the female members of the "MOVE 9", and Gary Wonderlin on the right, who would marry Alberta Africa just a couple months after her ex, John Gilbride was murdered)
What follows is the letter I will be soon sending to the members of the Pennsylvania Parole Board concerning the eight surviving members of the "MOVE 9".
They are eligible for parole in August of this year and considering that other MOVE members have, on a number of occasions, been paroled.. This, despite the fact that they never admit their culpability in any of their criminal entities, despite the fact that MOVE is a known, violent, cult.
I cannot make it more clear how important it is that these so-called "political prisoners"need to remain behind bars. The reasons for which are partially listed in this following letter and one can find many more on this blog and my website.
If anyone at all wants more information about the "MOVE 9", please let me know via email firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, please take the time, if you haven’t already, to sign the petition to make clear that many people do not want any more MOVE members, especially convicted, murderous, of Police Officers out on the streets.
You can also call and send letters to the parole board expressing your concern to the following:
Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole
1101 South Front Street,
Harrisburg, PA 17104-2517(717) 787-5699
Dear PA Parole Board Members,
My name is Tony Allen and I spent nearly a decade of my life working in support of the eight surviving members of the so-called "MOVE 9", who were convicted of amongst other things, the third degree murder of a Philadelphia Police Officer named James Ramp.
Delbert Orr, William Phillips, Janine Phillips, Edward Goodman, Charles Sims, Michael Davis, Debbie Sims and Janet Holloway all will be eligible for parole this August.
As one who once was a part of the MOVE cult and who idolized these criminals, who has since learned the truth about them and their crimes, I must respectfully request that these un-repentant murderers not be granted parole.
There are numerous reasons while I must emphatically oppose these prisoner’s release, the crimes for which they were convicted for just being one of many.
Given your status, I think it not necessary for me to delve into the facts of this case, as I am sure you have them readily available for you. My concerns reflect my former relationship with these prisoners and the impact upon society that they have had during their time in prison.
My understanding is that prison is as much for punishment as it is an attempt to reform the behavior and outlook of those sent to them. As someone who was not directly impacted by the actual crimes committed by the inmates in question, I do not know if it is fair for me to write to you regarding the justness of the sentence that was imposed upon them by Judge Malmed in 1981.
What I can attest to, with great certainty, is the "MOVE 9"’s actions on behalf of the cult to which the continue to maintain allegiance to and how their actions have helped to maintain and fuel the fire of what amounts to be a very destructive entity.
The history of MOVE is well documented as is their proclivity for spreading their message. While incarcerated, the murderers of Police Officer James Ramp have steadily worked to proliferate their gospel of hatred, while simultaneously working to recruit new adherents to their cult, both inside and outside of prison.
The imprisoned MOVE members have consistently been provided forums from which to spread their message. The MOVE Organization, for a number of years maintained a periodical titled "First Day". The prisoners in question were featured writers for this paper. It was a publication littered with exhortations for world-wide "revolution", the destruction of the established social order, and pleas for people to work along with the MOVE cult.
I personally first ran across MOVE and it’s now defunct publication back in 1996 when I was working to free another murderer who I believed at the time was innocent, whose name is Wesley Cook, but who is better known as Mumia Abu-Jamal. Jamal, is one of MOVE’s chief proponent and he has attempted to funnel support for himself for his imprisoned comrades. His case, as I am sure you know is one that is known world-wide. Like with the MOVE members, I eventually came to the conclusion that he too was imprisoned justly and deserves to be in jail.
The MOVE newspaper, "First Day", had the addresses of their members who were in jail and contended that they were in fact "political prisoners". It was the position of MOVE then and now that the MOVE members in jail were innocent of the charges of which they were convicted of. This is a position that the MOVE members in jail hold too as well. In none of their articles from "First Day", or in any of the correspondences I had started to amass between myself and the prisoners, did any of them admit to any wrong doing and continued to assert their innocence and that they were victims of a "conspiracy" by the "system" to silence them.
As I grew closer to the MOVE Organization I also grew close to the "MOVE 9". Evidence of which is in the hundreds of letters that I still have in my possession from the MOVE prisoners. I also frequently visited the prisons where they were incarcerated and on the outside I took their cause as my own and raised money and support on their behalf. What started out as a political position on my part was rapidly evolving into a devotion to a very dangerous cult.
The MOVE newspaper was not the only forum for the "MOVE 9" to spread their extremist vision. The group also maintained a website that featured their writings and numerous other sites have them listed as "political prisoners" and inaccurate information concerning their crime is spread throughout the world wide web. As support for MOVE supporter Mumia Abu-Jamal grew, so too did that for the "MOVE 9". People from around the world are convinced that these murderers are the victims and treat them accordingly with the myth of their innocence has been translated into numerous languages. As I write this there are people suffering under the false idea that they are working to free innocent people.
As demand for information about MOVE grew, I helped start a new periodical called "Network Magazine", that like "First Day" was dedicated to spreading information friendly to MOVE and especially it’s imprisoned members, the latter providing numerous articles for the magazine. In case you are interested I have several copies of both periodicals as well as the hundreds of letters I received from MOVE.
In addition to their public writings extolling the virtues of the cult of which they are a part of, they also continue to play a leadership role in the sect. The fact is that the imprisoned MOVE members constitute elders of the group as many of those in the group joined the sect did so after 1978 when these particular inmates were in jail.
This is important for a couple of reasons. The first of which has to do with indoctrinating new adherents into the sect. The second, which is in my view, is far more nefarious is their support of MOVE’s practice of child abuse, sexual, emotional, and spiritual.
For instance, most of the children of MOVE members do not attend school, nor were they home schooled according to state laws, at least this was the case from 1996-2004 when I was involved with the group. The children of the cult can barely read or write and know nothing outside of what the leaders of the cult want them to know. The intellectual curiosity that is the beauty of children is brutally stifled as the children are ruthlessly indoctrinated with the cult mind-set.
Worse than that is the sexual abuse of the female children of the sect. MOVE does not deny that girls as young as 11 or 12 years old are compelled to become impregnated by older MOVE members as a means of controlling them by sexual domination and busying their lives by forcing to endure the difficulties of a child having a child. Something which is bad enough in regular society and is even more so in a cult situation. It is a world where children have no say, where even the parents do not have the final say over the plight of their children. At the whim of MOVE’s leaders, these girls who are functionally illiterate and who abide in a state of enforced ignorance are "married" off to older MOVE members. For them, there is no hope of college or career or hope. It is a bleak existence that revolves around their ability to churn out children for the cult. The MOVE members in prison are all familiar and supportive of these practices.
If these MOVE members who are currently incarcerated are to be released, those who are most likely to suffer as a result are the most vulnerable, children whose parents have abdicated their responsibilities or have been harassed or are to fearful to asset themselves. If you allow these MOVE members to be released from prison, you are not only putting more killers on the streets of Philadelphia, but you are also damning more children of MOVE members to a life of depravation, abuse, and cruelty. I write this because as someone who was so long a part of MOVE, I suffer under no delusions as to how they operate. The more MOVE members there are on the streets, the more the children in the cult will suffer. I cannot be more emphatic about this point.
Another issue with regards to MOVE and it’s imprisoned members is the 2002 murder of a former MOVE adherent, John Gilbride. His murder remains un-solved, but there are plenty of things that we know for a fact that MOVE did to this man prior to his death. These are things I know about because I was with MOVE at the time they occurred.
John Gilbride was gunned down by unknown assailants after returning home from work and at the tail end of what could only be described as one of the most contentious custody disputes in recent history. John had been married to the leader of MOVE, Alberta Africa and they had one child together. When John decided to leave MOVE, he ended up having to leave his son and fight for the ability to see his child. The ensuing custody battle entailed MOVE boarding up it’s main property in Philadelphia, evoking images of the bloody events of May 13th 1985.
But MOVE did not merely take a "defensive" stand against John Gilbride. With the knowledge and blessing of imprisoned MOVE members, the cult waged a war against Mr. Gilbride in an attempt to drive him away from his legal attempts to be able to be a father for his child and extricate his little boy from the cult that he was shackled to.
MOVE members and supporters such as myself set upon a course of vicious and cruel tactics that were aimed at getting him fired from his job, defaming him as a child-abuser, a wife-beater, and an agent provocateur for the much maligned "system". Not only was John targeted for this abuse and slander, but so too were his parents. Their neighborhood was picketed and flyers were sent out with allegations that the Gilbride family had been involved with sexual abuse. Despite the adversity and the fact that he had a cult working to make his life miserable, after a number of years, his tenacity and bravery began to pay off.
A Judge granted Mr. Gilbride unsupervised visitation with his son. MOVE members had vowed that he would never see his son in this context and their were more public protest and the harassment of John was ramped up, again to no avail. The night before John Gilbride was to have an un-supervised visit with this son, which would have been his third attempt to do so, he was killed.
MOVE, of course denied any role in the murder and would eventually concoct a number of conspiracy theories about John’s murder, all of which obviously point away from the group having any responsibility for the crime. For me, this murder marked the end of my belief in MOVE, but in order to avoid a similar custody dispute over my own daughter whose mother was completely wrapped up in the sect I stayed and worked against the cult from the inside out.
Thankfully, we were all able to get out of MOVE, but not before we heard much more about John’s murder. In letters from the imprisoned MOVE members was a thinly disguised celebratory tone. A couple of quotations from letters that I received from jailed MOVE members make my point.
Debbie Sims wrote:
"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."
Charles Sims 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."
The above statements reflect that kind of brutal mind-set that still is at the core of the currently imprisoned MOVE members. Those who do not acknowledge their crimes or their victims and who portray themselves as oppressed "freedom fighters" deserve neither mercy nor sympathy. They certainly do not need to be placed back on the streets of Philadelphia.
I fully support the idea of parole for those who have truly changed their lives, took responsibility for their actions, and who contribute to society something more than railing against the "system", while helping to perpetuate a system that abuses children and teaches hatred.
Finally, in an effort to allow people to have their voices heard with regard to this matter I have started a petition that calls for the members of the parole board to refuse to grant any of these eight murderers parole under any circumstance. So far, nearly 2,000 people have signed and we expect at least 10,000 by the end of July.
I do hope that you take all of the information I have provided you with and treat this matter with the seriousness that it so greatly deserves.
Thank you for your time,