Sunday, April 06, 2008

Dr. Robert Zaller: The Shame Of Drexel University

(Dr. Zaller in the center of the photo)

Sign The Petition To Keep MOVE Cop-Killers In Jail

A few posts back I wrote about how Drexel Professor of History, Robert Zaller signed a petition calling for the release of the MOVE members incarcerated for amongst other things, the murder of Police Officer James Ramp.

As it turns out, Professor Zaller is also a supporter of Mumia Abu-Jamal, making Zaller not only a man of poor judgement, but an ideologue who has hitched his carriage to the worst of the worst of criminals and is proud of it.

In an essay at the website of the pro-Mumia group, “Educators For Mumia”, a group which Dr. Zaller is a member of, he opines that:

“It is time to put by the fiction that a new trial can give Mumia justice, for he has already suffered a far worse punishment than a guilty man would deserve. It is time to free Mumia, and to dedicate ourselves to that cause. As long as he remains in prison, a part of us all is locked up with him.”

The above statement, which could have been ripped from the pages of any Marxist rag, leaves me at a loss for words, especially considering that they were written by an educator who teaches young people in Philadelphia in a world renowned University.

In my previous post regarding Professor Zaller I encouraged readers to email the molder of young minds and inform him of the facts of the “MOVE 9". I emailed him myself and did not receive a response, however a reader of my blog was blessed with a sample of Dr. Zaller’s intellectual prowess. Incidentally, this reader also is a veteran of the 1978 confrontation with MOVE, who as a Police Officer at the time saw MOVE’s handiwork up close as he saw his friends and co-workers shot up and Officer Ramp murdered.

What follows is Zaller’s email to the veteran Officer and my response to the Professor. I am of the view that Zaller still is in dire need of a dose of truth that will hopefully make it’s way up to the top of the ivory tower where he clearly has been hiding from reality.

He can be reached at

April 3, 2008

Dear Mr. Di Zio,

I believe the question of which weapon killed Officer Ramp remains an open one, though I would gladly know of any conclusive scientific information you may have or the record may show. In any case, no 1930s-style shootout was necessary to enforce any municipal codes or criminal action against MOVE members. The entire incident was and remains a deep stain on the history of Philadelphia.

I think Officer Ramp’s death was a tragedy, and all the sadder for being needless. One bullet killed him, however, and nine men and women (three of them never charged with weapons possession as I believe) were given 30-year to life sentences for his death. No police officer or other public official was ever indicted in the death of eleven children and adults in the MOVE bombing of 1985. The disproportion in the handling of these two events makes a mockery of justice.

Even if one of the nine MOVE members still in prison pulled the trigger that killed Officer Ramp, that person has now served a very lengthy term. (In English law, a “life sentence” typically meant fourteen years, even when capital punishment was still in force.) Eight persons who did not pull the trigger have now served a total amount of 240 years. They have nothing to “repent” except the vindictive prosecution that put them behind bars. Collective punishment is itself a crime under international law. Who’s to punish the punishers?

I’ve never been where you were, sir, on the day of that confrontation thirty years ago, and I’ve never lost a colleague to gunfire. I must and do respect your feelings, as I do those of Maureen Faulkner. From where I stand, though, Officer Ramp has been avenged many times over. It is time, in my view, for vengeance to cease.


Robert Zaller
Professor Zaller,

I am writing to you after seeing your response to my friend and Police veteran of the 1978 confrontation with MOVE, Mr. John Di Zio, regarding the issue of the

As someone who spent several years amongst MOVE and their supporters, I must confess a lack of patience with those who buy into MOVE's propaganda. With due respect, you have apparently placed yourself into that category.

So, allow me to get right to the point.

There is absolutely no question of which weapon killed Officer James Ramp. I am not sure how familiar you are with firearms, but each firearm is unique in the sense that it has a kind of fingerprint. Any bullet fired from that weapon, if the bullet is in good enough shape, can be conclusively linked to the gun that fired it. This was the case with regards to the MOVE 9.

A gun removed from the basement of the MOVE house was linked, without a doubt to bullet fragments removed from Officer Ramp. This gun was purchased by a MOVE member named Philip Africa, whose palm print was placed upon a Federal form needed to purchase the weapon. Out of all of the evidence used to gain a conviction for the death of James Ramp, the ballistics evidence has been cited as the strongest link and this has been born out in the fact that MOVE's numerous appeals have been denied. At the end of the confrontation, police seized 11 rifles and handguns from the compound and 2,000 rounds of

It appears to me that you want to diminish the crimes of MOVE from that day by focusing exclusively on the conviction for third degree murder that the "MOVE 9" justly received. This is only half the story and it is to diminish the sacrifice of the victims of MOVE to take a reductionist stance and condescendingly reproach a man who was there to see MOVE do much more than murder Officer James Ramp.

MOVE members were convicted of the attempted murder of several Police Officers and firefighters and that is figured into the "30-100 year sentence". Perhaps a minor detail to you, but maybe more so of one if you or one of your family members were one of those who nearly died that day and had their career ended. Moreover, I am not averse to reconciliation or parole for incarcerated inmates, but it should be noted that no MOVE member has ever acknowledged their role in the crime. Again, perhaps a minor footnote to you, but not so much to those of us who know or who have seen the results of MOVE's evil first hand.

You are entitled to your opinion as to the handling of the situation, but the facts show that the police were facing people whom they knew to be armed, who had made threats to kill these Officers, and who promised they would die before being extricated from the house. It is simply disingenuous to minimize the dangerous situation that Officers faced.

Authorities did try to negotiate with MOVE, negotiations which included people MOVE ostensibly trusted, such as the later Walter Palmer, and even a Catholic Priest. MOVE responded to these overtures and pleas for a peaceful end to the situation with "fuck you priest" and a vow to make the police come in and kill them, children and all. Moreover, the vast majority of witnesses attest to the fact that MOVE members opened fire first and indeed opened fire on un-armed firefighters as well as the Police.

It was a tragedy, but one that MOVE bears responsibility for. The Police were doing their job in serving warrants and one of them lost their life in doing son. Several other Officers and Firefighters were also wounded and on that day. It is clear, and the judiciary has noted, that the loss of life could have been worse, as MOVE's intention that day was to cause as much harm as possible to their opponents as possible.

In attempting to support your squalid argument on behalf of MOVE with what is clearly cut and paste propaganda from the cult about May 13th, 1985, you show your ignorance about both of the events.

Again, the loss of life was tragic, but the architect of the disaster in 1985 was the same architect of the 1978 disaster. John Africa instigated, prepared for, and in 1985 helped to carry out his plans that not only placed the children of the cult in danger, but also the adult members, MOVE's neighbors. It should also be understood that the members of law enforcement tasked with handling the MOVE instigated nightmare were the targets of MOVES bullets, a number of whom were shot, but who were luckily spared serious injury.

Anyone familiar with the situation understands how terribly complicated and far more nuanced the problems MOVE produced on Osage Avenue than your boilerplate propaganda acknowledges and I am disappointed that anyone tasked with educating young people would employ it. That is not to say that I don't agree that the authorities did not mishandle the problem, as clearly they did. And that is something that is easy to say now, but it says nothing about the crimes committed on August 8th 1978.

There is nothing that occurred on Osage Avenue to mitigate the crimes of the MOVE members in Powelton Village. If anything, the two events demonstrate that MOVE members not only have a cruel disregard for their own community, but for the children in their midst, children who in all groups like MOVE are the ultimate victims of the adult care givers willingness to subordinate their own self-interest and the interest of their children to the perceived well being of the cult.
It is a shame that MOVE can find and run their martyrdom scam on impressionable young people who are not so inclined to look beyond the rhetoric that fits their political persuasion. But is an outright disgrace when supposed intellectuals such as yourself buy into an authoritarian cult's absurdities.

I would hope that before you ally yourself with causes such as MOVE in the future that you take the time to look deeper into the issue and not have to begin your response to someones questioning of you on the matter with "I think". You signed your name on a petition that called for the release of murderers without knowing the facts of the case and even added an comment that was as arrogant as it was factually incorrect.

What is owed to Mr. Di Zio and the other victims of MOVE by you is not "respect" for their feelings, but an apology from you and the others who have signed this petition.

Tony Allen


At 7:42 AM , Blogger Happily Incomplete said...

Thank you Mr. Allen, for your response to Professor Zaller's cold, uninformed, letter to Mr. Di Zio.

Mr. Di Zio is, in fact, my Grandfather...and I know he was deeply affected by what happened with MOVE. I appreciate your thorough response, and I also appreciate that you posted this for the world to see. It's very important that people know what actually happened.

Kate Di Zio

At 1:26 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My grandaughter was a student at Drexel and at one time had taken ill and was in Preby Hosp. As I entered the ER...I had flashbacks of that day in 78. I remember feeling this sorrow and shook as I entered. All has changed from that day, the rooms were different...but I will never forget...never.

To my beautiful Grandaughter, Thank you

At 9:03 PM , Blogger Tony Allen said...


Your grandfather has consistently been a major supporter of my efforts here on this site and on other websites.

I am very happy that he is on my side, but regretful that he, or any other retired Police Officers must remain on guard for those who would re-write history and free murderers.

My best to you and him.


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