Friday, April 27, 2007

Non-Compromise And The Murder of John Gilbrde

(Ramona Africa)

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.


At 9:05 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

Hey, just stumbled upon your blog on a search for photos of John Gilbride, and I'm also vaguely familiar with your work from the Philly IMC (I haven't been reading long).

I just have one question: why do you say the deadly results of the 1978 and 1985 MOVE vs. police standoffs were caused directly by MOVE themselves?

Although I agree MOVE certainly did not make any efforts to calm the situations, the resulting deaths of MOVE members, especially in the 1985 bombing, were not the responsibility of MOVE alone. No matter what MOVE had against them, I do not think there was ANY excuse for the police to drop a bomb on their house and allow the entire block to burn to the ground, knowing that it would kill many people, including MOVE children.

It seems you put all the blame on MOVE - while I understand your stance against them, I don't understand your reasoning for seemingly absolving the police and city government of any crimes committed on that day in 1985.

I'd really appreciate your reply, thanks.


At 11:00 PM , Blogger Tony Allen said...

I say that the deaths were caused by MOVE, because of the fact that MOVE members, under the direction of John Africa, instigated the "confrontations", refused mediation, made impossible demands, and directly initiated the gunfights in both 1978 and 1985 respectively, by opening fire on Police.

There is a misperception out there that these two confrontations occured almost by accident, as if an escalation by Police led to a corresponding escalation by MOVE, until the outcome became pre-ordained. This was not the case. The conflict was directed by MOVE's leader in such a way that from MOVE's perspective the outcome could only be violent. And if you would like I could give you more details as to why I believe this to be true.

The ultimate responsibility does lay with MOVE. It was not as if the Police were driving around looking for people to drop a bomb on.

That said, and I have written this many times, especially with regards to the children of MOVE, the authorities handled the confrontations horribly, to the point that I have stated my view that Ramona Africa ought not to have been the only one to go to jail in 1985.

In my view, the children of MOVE were regarded by authorities as MOVE members and I have seen interviews where it was said by the Police that the children were as dangerous as the adults.

This, in my estimation was a horrific display of negligence. The children should have been treated not as "enemy combatants", but as the hostages they were.

There were also intel issues from the very beggining as it was believed by many that there no longer were children in the house. Many cops did not know that when they were firing into 6221 Osage that there were children in the house.

Than there is "the entry device" i.e. bomb. Just the symbolism alone is sickening. A helicopter dropping C-4 onto a house with children in it is inexcusable.

The use of the fire started by the bomb as a "tactical weapon" is also inexcusable.

Of course, I do not make a blanket critique of all of the Police. The problem started at the top, where MOVE was ignored for years as they bult not one but two fortified bunkers, one on top of the houes and the other inside.

It took years for authorities to pay attention to MOVE's lawlessness and when they did, MOVE was ready for them.

These are some of my thoughts on the matter. I also tend to agree with the findings of the MOVE Commision if you get a chance to read it.

But what I always go back to is the fact that John Africa's plans were for death and that is what he got. Negotiators from a priest to MOVE's supporters tried to no avail to compell MOVE membrs to at least send out the children.

So, while there is plenty of blame to throw around, it behoves us to get to the bottom of things and at the bottom of this is a deranged cult leader who stocked his home with the children of imprisoned MOVE members who could not get in his way.

Without the violent cultism of MOVE there would have been no "confrontation", so the blame for the deaths lay with MOVE's leaders for starting it. And now they complain when they got the blood and deat that they wanted.


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