Monday, June 08, 2009

What About John Gilbride?

(Pic of John Gilbride)

That should be the question that is asked anytime the issue of MOVE or even Mumia is raised.

For those of you who aren’t aware, the issue of Mumia’s guilt and possibility of freedom is settled and the possibility of MOVE members being released on parole after being convicted of murdering James Ramp is not very likely.

So why even bother arguing back and forth with Mumia and MOVE supporters on these issues? Part of winning a fight is knowing that it is ok to walk away when the battle is over. Let them have their protests and yell at empty buildings. They mean nothing now.

What does still count is that justice has not been done for John and I hold onto the idea that bringing his killers to justice is not at all an impossible dream. Time has certainly passed and while trails may go cold, our collective resolve to see the guilty be brought forth does not have to diminish.

I continue to argue that the best thing that most of us can do with regards to bringing John’s killers to justice is to not let his memory and what happened to him at the hands of MOVE members and supporters be erased MOVE wants John Gilbride permanently deleted from the records of the group’s history. The cult so dependant on its martyrs wants people to forget the name of a man who they claim was executed by the government. This massive contradiction should raise suspicions in the minds of even those people who know nothing else about John’s murder.

What can be done to keep John out there is to use any and every mention of MOVE or Mumia in the media, on websites, really any forum possible, as an opportunity to raise the issue of John Gilbride’s killing and the “suspicious” circumstances surrounding it. The is the antidote to sitting around with frustration at the thought of powerlessness in the face of what I think has been demonstrated to be the pure wickedness that is MOVE.

As someone who lived in the midst of MOVE, I know the effect that the publicity and pressure on the group had on many of its supporters and even some of its members. The anxiety and fear it brought, also brought with it some sense of self-reflection. No longer could MOVE’s contradictions be so easily overlooked, the consequences of its ideology were there for anyone who could open their eyes to see. MOVE has not recovered from the controversy brought forth by John’s murder.

I am going to go out on a limb and say that there aren’t too many people who will devote themselves to MOVE’s mission (not that they really have one anymore), when they find out the group is suspected in murdering a former adherent. The parole board probably isn’t going to release MOVE members while the cult is under scrutiny for yet another murder.

If MOVE or Mumia is mentioned in the newspaper up in Philly, please be ready to send letters or to make phone calls to raise the issue of John’s murder. If you hear of Ramona Africa speaking at some college in your area, contact the students and let them know the kind of people they are bringing onto campus, etc…These things do make a difference and is much better than doing nothing.

Friday, June 05, 2009

June 2009 Update

It has certainly been a while since I have posted on this blog and there are many reasons for this. Most of them are personal. To be sure, I haven’t exactly missed writing about MOVE and Mumia, but I do feel a sense of obligation in pursuing some of the issues of justice that remain un-addressed with regards to MOVE, so continue to do this I will.

To me, there are really only two issues left for discussion on this blog. One is the frustrating reality that John Gilbride’s murderers and those who ordered his murder remain “free”. Although I am a believer in a kind of “cosmic” justice, I am also a fan of more temporal punishments. The other lingering problem that remains is the treatment of children within the confines of the MOVE cult. Both of these issues deserve more attention than they receive and I very much would like to remedy that, but as I am constantly reminded, it takes more than just what I have to make changes.

Before I get too far into what should and could be done, I think it important to review where things are at currently as opposed to when I started this blog.

When I left MOVE and publicly started to tell the truth about the group, things were far less certain than they are today. The whole Mumia “movement” was still a force, a diminished force, but a force nevertheless. Its popularity in certain circles gave MOVE a ready-made audience, a chance to raise funds, and a potential to recruit new supporters. Today, with Jamal having no chance for freedom and an equally small chance of being executed, the sense of urgency that once was a huge part of the marketing of Mumia no longer exists. Without this (as it turns out false) perception of Mumia always one pen-stroke away from execution, the already declining movement has about run out of steam. And so with Team Mumia sidelined, MOVE, which always was riding the Mumia movement’s coattails, is further relegated to obscurity. So, for this blog anyways, unless Mumia is in the news or there is some pressing matter concerning him, I won’t give him the publicity by mentioning him on this site.

Another big change from when I began this little adventure is the diminishment of interest in MOVE and also a nearly complete lack of anyone willing to defend the actions of the group. When I started this site I received emails nearly daily asking for information about the group and there were numerous websites with pro-MOVE propaganda on them. With the help of a small, but, dedicated helpers, we really were able to stem what was a tide of lies. Even people who, politically speaking was very much pre-disposed to believe Move’s version of events either rejected the cult out of hand or at least seriously re-considered the extent to which they would defend it. Today, there is very little in the way of recent pro-MOVE propaganda being actively disseminated. It is out there, but certainly not to the extent that it was and it is to the point that MOVE, always on the extreme margins anyways, has effectively ceased to exist as anything more than a haven for the abuse of children and a place where the murderers of John Gilbride can feel safe. So, while I will continue to monitor things, I think it safe to say that MOVE has pretty much lost in its bid to revise history in its favor.

Another thing that, to be honest, brought me a couple of sleepless nights was the thought of members of the “MOVE 9” being freed from jail. There are very few MOVE members or supporters as violently dedicated to John Africa’s vision as are the eight remaining MOVE members in jail for the 1978 murder of P.O. James Ramp. Instead of taking the opportunity of incarceration to about face their way of thinking, they have gone the other route and although mellowed by age, cultivated a palpable hatred of “the system” and its representatives and especially “traitors” such as myself. I remain convinced that to allow any currently incarcerated MOVE members to go free would be a tragic mistake. Today, however, I am fully confident that the MOVE members will die in prison. They have abandoned their appeals and hang their hopes on a parole board that was on the receiving end of some very bad publicity after having freed some violent criminals only to have them turn around and murder Philadelphia Police Officers. Things got so bad that there was a temporary moratorium on parole for those who committed violent offenses. The political climate coupled with what has, so far been MOVE members complete and total lack of willingness to take responsibility for anything at all, ever, has shored up my faith that they will remain right where they belong, as guests of the PA Department of Corrections.

So really what remains to be dealt with is the ongoing injustice of John Gilbride’s murderers not yet having been brought to justice and also the abuse of children within in the cult. This will really be the biggest challenge yet. People don’t seem to have much of a stomach for either issue. I have been stonewalled and ignored by journalists when I press the issue because it is not the focus of their agenda. Far easier is it to talk about MOVE’s controversial history than face down the murkier realities of its present day existence. And while I do understand anyone’s reluctance to press MOVE members, it is after all the journalist’s duty to ask the questions that others dare not ask and bring to light that which certain people are unwilling to see. I do realize that I keep coming back again and again to the issue of John’s murder and MOVE’s child abuse and I know for some people this focus is rather redundant. It is a charge that I fully embrace being guilty of. Other people can let it go and in many ways I have let it go also. I don’t allow it to take hold in my mind often, but when my thoughts go back to the day I heard John was killed and my first thought was how someone in or around MOVE had done it, I recoil in horror in my own complicity in the campaign that was waged against him, a campaign that ended in his murder.

There is a mountain of work that can and should be done to bring John’s case into the spotlight and into focus again. Through this spotlight comes pressure and hopefully through this pressure someone’s conscience will be stirred and the needed pieces of a puzzle will be filled in and justice will be brought to bear on those who are guilty. I implore people to not to look to me to spearhead this effort. If you are reading these words than you are just as capable as I am of writing letters to editors, sending emails, and writing articles.

With regards to the children in the MOVE cult, I do want to reiterate the fact that it is even wrong to even consider these victims of MOVE to be “MOVE kids”, “MOVE members”, to be anything other than hostages to a wicked ideology. They cannot be members of something that they cannot consciously choose to join or not join. They were given no choice, little hope, and little in the way of education. Let us not further their oppression by rhetorically shackling them to a way of thinking that was forced upon them.

I would further like to add that I am looking for information as to how the children around MOVE are being treated and educated today. I know how things were in 2004 when I left, but aside from a few photos and reports know little about their lives today. I would love to hear that the pressure MOVE has felt over the past several years has led to improvements in the standard of living for MOVE’s smallest victims, but I remain dubious at best. So, if you have any information I would love to read it. It will be kept confidential if you so desire it.

There is much more that needs to be said, but this is as far as I need to go today with things.

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