Sunday, January 22, 2006

Heir to Death’s Throne

(Long story short. I screwed up some with this article. I think that I may have left people with the impression that the MOVE cult is innocent when it comes to sexual improprities. This is not the case. MOVE forces illiterate girls as young as 12 to be impreganated by much older, male, MOVE members. They also condoned and encouraged a relationship between a 16 year old boy and a 23 year old woman. MOVE is by no means the puritans that they pretend to be)

( photo of Ricky Rodriguez, formerly of the "Children of God" cult)

There is a little boy out there, somewhere, hidden away mostly, but who is considered very important to the leaders of MOVE.

His name is Zack Gilbride. He carries the last name of his father, who was murdered for defying MOVE and standing up for his son and his own right to see his child.

John died trying to rest his son away from the boy’s “mother” who also happens to be MOVE’s current leader, Alberta Africa.

But for MOVE, Zack is much more than just one of the many children of the cult.

Zack is the boy king. He is being groomed to step into place as leader of MOVE.

Unlike other MOVE children he was born in a hospital. Unlike all other MOVE children he was born via in vitro-fertilization. A remarkable departure for a group that claims to be so far from, and so diametrically opposed to, the dreaded “system”. Unlike most other MOVE children the child is Caucasian.

This is the way his mother Alberta wanted things. The next ruler of MOVE was to be white.

This was supposedly a prophesy laid down many years ago by MOVE’s “founder”, John Africa.

But what will happen when little Zack grows up and can read and can learn about his father and his demise? Will he buy into MOVE’s multitude of conspiracy theories about his dad’s death or will he see through the crudely constructed facade? Only time will tell.

Their have been other children who were born to be kings of cults.

One of whom was named Ricky Rodriguez. He was to grow up to rule over the cult that was then known as the “Children of God”. Ricky never took to the role that he never asked for and at only twenty nine years old, Ricky Rodriguez took his own life after butchering a woman to death.

Instead of the periodic orgies of violence as practiced by MOVE, the “Children of God” engaged in orgies of the more literal kind. And like MOVE, they did not shield these children from the evil deeds that were to be done. Like MOVE, they made them participants.

Sexual activities aside, MOVE and the “Children of God” are very much alike. Even the propaganda of both groups strike an eerily similar tone. The “Children of God” offered the following as it’s hook.

“...Reject society...Who are the real rebels of today?... "We are the true lovers of peace and love and truth and beauty and God and freedom; whereas you, our parents...are on the brink of destroying and polluting all of us and our world if we do not rise up against you in the name of God and try to stop you...."

Sound familiar?

Replace a few words and you have what could have been any MOVE statement from the past thirty years or so.

As Ricky grew older so did his disenchantment with the sect that was so willing and eager to place him upon the thrown. He was sickened by memories of abuse as a child and felt that his mother had treated him not as a son or even a person, but as a “commodity”.

As the millennium came to a close, so did Ricky’s relationship with the “Children of God”.

But, just like anyone who has been raised in an authoritarian sect, Ricky had a hard time adapting to life in the “system”.

He did find love and married another former member of the group, his troubles, however, did not leave him. According to a 2005 “Rolling Stone” article:

“ The young couple was so unsophisticated, they were baffled to learn that the place didn't come with furniture. "We had no credit, no driving records, no renter's history.... "We didn't know how to write checks."
Ricky drifted through menial jobs and grew more depressed. "I'm not going anywhere with this," he said to his wife "I'm better than this. I've got a brain...”

Frustrated with his life and haunted by his past. Ricky began to formulate a plan that would end his troubles and help to ensure that the group that had stripped him of so much, could do no more harm.

Ricky Rodriguez was going to kill off the leadership of the cult hoping that in doing so, that he would end the suffering that it had wrought upon him and so many others. Included high upon this death list was his own mother, who was recognized as being at the head of the “Children of God”

According to Ricky:

"I've tried for four years,"... "Sure, it's not long. Feels like a fucking lifetime. Every fucking day has been a little worse than the day before."
"It's a need for revenge. It's a need for justice. Because I can't go on like this."

In early January of last year, Ricky set his plan into motion. But before he began, he drank, and he sat down with a video camera and explained in painful detail why he was going to go on a bloody rampage. It is a harrowing video, a glimpse at a tortured, confused, but driven young man, who couldn’t see the future through the pain of his past. He toyed with the Glock 9mm and praised the utilitarian features of his K-Bar knife. At some point he turns the video camera off and goes off to do what he feels he needs to do.

Ricky first attempt at retribution ends with a deadly knife attack on an elder member of the sect. For good measure he slits the woman’s throat with his beloved K-Bar blade. But it seems that Ricky, despite his rage and desire for vengeance cannot will himself to carry on with his deadly plot. He calls his wife on his cell-phone.

"Killing somebody is harder than I thought it would be," he tells her. She calls the police, but without more to go on, they disregard her tearful pleas.

Later Ricky calls again. He is now crying and tells his now wife who is now beside herself with fear, "No, I don't want to die here," he said. "There's too much light. I don't feel comfortable."

By 2:00 that morning, the calls from Ricky ceased. He put his Glock 9mm to his head and ended his life and shattered the lives of those who loved him.

After the death of Rodriguez the “Children of God” cult were propelled into the headlines and for a few miniutes society was having to face up to the destruction leveled upon people who are victimized by groups like MOVE and the “Children of God”.

When I heard about Rodriguez and his story, I immediately thought of little Zack.

His father dead, his mother the manipulative leader of what I believe to be a terroristic entity.

What kind of future can this child have?

I have to confess that there is no joy or even hope as I write these words.

Throughout contemplating this article and since I have been here, now late into the night, my stomach has been twisted into knots.

I remember the first time I met Zack. He had the most mischievous little smile of any kid that I had ever seen. He didn’t say much to me, he just smiled, and he was purely adorable. When I look into the face of my own child, it is easy to see Zack. The same brown hair and eyes and a similar quest for that little bit of naughtiness. Not too much. Just a little.

When I would come over, he would always want to wrestle, and if I wasn’t paying attention, he was good for a sucker punch. Quite a left hook for one so small, I must admit.

We went to the beach with him once. I attempted, but failed miserably to teach him how to toss a frisbee. He was so happy to just be a little kid, not Zack Africa, not the heir to the throne, just to be a little kid.

As the custody dispute between Alberta and Zack’s father intensified I saw him less and less. When I did see him, he was not the same child that I had knew before.

The gloom of the moment had stolen his innocence and there is no telling as to what horrid and viciously destructive lies that his mother was telling him. His once shining and bright and happy face was now downcast and you could tell that all of what was surrounding him was weighing heavily on his little soul.

Not long before John was killed, I was at MOVE "headquarters" and MOVE supporter Gary Wonderlin showed up. Zack ran up to him and addressed him as “dad” as Wonderlin quickly scooped little Zack up and ushered him indoors.

At that time I was puzzled. It didn’t make sense at the time. Gary was not Zack’s dad.

And then John was murdered.

Gary disappeared for a while.

Than things started to make perfectly good sense.

And than I remember getting a phone call from Gary telling me that he was getting Alberta.

I feigned excitement and congratulated him, but that same feeling I have in my stomach now is the same one that I had then. It is that terrible sense of fear and loathing rolling around inside me.

I fear for Zack. Who knows where he is, what he is being taught. Is MOVE trying to purge whatever memories he has of his father and replace them with myths and lies? He, for now, is lost in the gloomy, psychological wasteland, that is the MOVE Organization.

I expect the worst because from MOVE that is what one can expect.

As many of you all know, I am not a person of faith or religion, but if you are, you may want to add this little boy named Zack Gilbride to your prayers, it might be all that he has.

For more about the "Children of God" their is a really great website that ex-members of the group that have put together. I would encourage everyone to check it out


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