Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Distortions of MOVE

"The police announced that MOVE had two more minutes to surrender and that water was about to be pumped into the house. Then a gun was spotted, protruding from a basement window (of the MOVE house. "Put that gun down" officers shouted. "Put it down!"...."Water, water!" One of the fire department’s big deluge guns began to blast through a partially opened basement window. Then gunshots."

-Burning Down the House
by John Anderson and Hilary Hevenor

A month ago I started a petition calling for the murderers of Police Officer James Ramp to not be granted parole. The eight surviving members of the cult who were convicted of his death, as well as other charges pertaining to the MOVE-instigated shoot-out are slated to begin parole proceedings soon. They will be eligible for parole next August.

At the time of this writing we have obtained over a thousand signatures.

It is my position that it would be unconscionable for the parole board to grant these MOVE members relief. And not just because of the crime they committed.

Many people have argued that murdered someone should either be executed or remanded to prison for the rest of their lives. But this is not the sentence given to the members of MOVE during their sentencing hearing back in 1981. The convicted killers were handed a sentence of thirty to a hundred years in prison.

If you were to assume that MOVE had "mellowed" over the years as some journalists have claimed, you would be wrong.

Moreover, despite the propaganda as offered by MOVE and their supporters, the case against the "MOVE 9" could not be more clear.

The police action against MOVE was actually long in coming and not the result of some blood-thirsty, racially induced rampage.

On July 21, 1977, federal agents raided two cars full of explosives, weapons, the components to assemble some forty additional bombs. The impetus for this raid was the cooperation of MOVE co-founder turned informant, Donald Glassey. As a result of Glassey and another informant named William Smith (who would later turn up dead in a river) federal arrest warrants were obtained against John Africa and Mo Africa.

Both Africas went on the run and weren’t in town during the 1978 shoot-out with police. Instead, John Africa orchestrated the confrontation safely from Rochester New York and than according to MOVE lore calmly watched the events un-fold on television.

Prior to the bloody finale on Powelton, MOVE had been making the lives of their neighbors a living hell by staging amplified protests, running around toting guns, and issuing bold threats to anyone who got in their way.

On March 1, 1978, city attorneys received permission from a judge to form a blockade around the MOVE compound. The attorneys cited MOVE’s past violent tendencies, the cult’s refusal to allow Licence and Inspections to investigate the compound and nonpayment of water and gas bills.

But MOVE was ready for this. Anticipating a show-down with the city, MOVE had stockpiled months worth of provisions and the spectacle of the blockade garnered sympathy from people and became an embarrassment to the city.

On May 3, a compromise was brokered between MOVE and the city. A ten-point agreement, which was made public allowed for MOVE members charged with a variety of crimes to be released and their charges dropped. The city, for it’s part, wanted MOVE out of Powelton Village entirely. MOVE was given 90 days to hold up their end of the bargain, and in typical MOVE fashion they ignored it.

The ninety days came and went. MOVE reportedly said that "MOVE gonna move when we ready to move." The group had changed it’s mind according to Delbert Africa. That was their story than, but if you ask MOVE now, you will hear that the city had broke their end of the bargain and that is why they did not vacate the houses. This, however, is simply not true.

The city though had enough of MOVE’s games and took action.

It was through MOVE’s un-willingness to abide by the agreement that they had signed off on that paved the way for the death of James Ramp and the incarceration of nine of their members for what should amount to a lifetime in jail.

They can blame nobody but themselves. It was MOVE who broke the agreement, who

barricaded their home, who used children as "human shields", who opened fire on the police and firemen. It was MOVE who ignored the pleas of a priest and their own sympathizers to at least allow for the children to leave the house.

It is MOVE members in prison now who still hold true to their death drenched ideology and who refuse to take any responsibility for their actions back in 1978.

During my time in the cult I got to know the "MOVE 9" fairly well and will readily attest to the fact that they have no sympathy for the death of James Ramp. They simply don’t care that their actions ended the life of another human being and wrecked the careers of a number of others.

Accountability is just not something that is on the radar screen of anyone in MOVE.

And these are the people who were are supposed to want out on the streets?

For an example of MOVE’s delusions, revisionist history, and attempts at manipulation you need to look no further than their own propaganda. What follows is the "official" MOVE story about the "MOVE 9" from a pro-Mumia website.

This August 8th will mark the 29th anniversary of the 1978 confrontation in Philadelphia that was completely provoked and carried out by the Philadelphia police. Over 600 heavily armed police officers came out to MOVE headquarters to serve an eviction order to MOVE members, charging them with failure to leave their Powelton Village headquarters in supposed violation of an earlier agreement. With their concocted story to justify a military invasion, public officials and the media blamed MOVE for the deadly assault that followed.

On the morning of August 8, 1978. police fired over 1,000 rounds of ammunition into a basement that was filled with MOVE men, women, children, and animals. The police flooded the basement in an attempt to drown MOVE members. They fired tear gas knowing full well that MOVE babies would be gassed. In their bloodthirsty frenzy to kill MOVE members, the police killed one of their own fellow officers. As MOVE members came out of their house, mothers had their babies snatched out of their arms and were shackled. MOVE men were savagely beaten and shackled.

The police, rather than admitting that they had killed one of their own, charged nine MOVE members with the murder of the one police officer, James Ramp. The nine were, as in the case of Mumia, tried and convicted for the murder of the police officer. Each member was sentenced to 30-100 years in prison. The trial judge admitted, when questioned by then still unimprisoned journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, that he did not have the faintest idea as to who shot the cop. He said he had sentenced the MOVE members as a family because they insisted that they were a family!

It was partly because of Mumia’s extensive and fair reporting on MOVE, rare among Philadelphia journalists, covering all the events that led to August 8th as well as the trial and conditions of imprisonment for the MOVE 9, that he was later framed. Mayor Rizzo specifically threatened Mumia for what he defined as biased reporting.

That was 29 years ago. MOVE members are still in prison today. Merle Africa died in prison under mysterious circumstances after doing 20 years. August 1978 led directly to the infamous bombing of MOVE on May 13, 1985, as MOVE would not stop protesting the incarceration of their nine sisters and brothers.

We cannot allow one more freedom fighter to die in Amerika’s dungeons! A year from now the MOVE 9 will go before the parole board for the very first time. Interviews will begin in the next few months. Join us in a campaign of massive steady public pressure to bring our freedom fighters home. The struggle to parole the MOVE 9 is key to reinstating the right to parole for all prisoners.



At 9:45 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those of you reading this, I am a graduate of the MOVE 78 confrontation. I spent a year, prior to the confrontation, in a room overlooking the front of the compound and down Pearl street. I wish I had a video camera to show these armed animals for what they were. James Ramp and I worked together from 1963 till he was murdered by MOVE. I will never forget that day..nor will I forgive, that's God's Job and the Job of Justice in this case and that of the executioner, Mumia Abu Jamal

John Pisano
Stakeout Unit, Retired

At 12:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Tony,

Know if there's a way to get the move Commission report online?

After reading your article, I'd like to learn more

At 4:59 PM , Blogger Tony Allen said...

Temple University used to have access to it online, but do not any longer.

Charles Bowser, who was on the commision wrote a book called "Let the Bunker Burn". In it is the report as well as alot of the backstory.

A good read from someone who was in the thick of things


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