It has been eight years now since the massacre, eight years since the carnage on Osage Avenue, eight years since an urban Holocaust which stole eleven human lives, eight years since the unjust encagement of Ramona Africa for daring to survive, eight years since the government committed premeditated mass murder of members of the Africa family, men, women, and children. And still, justice is a ghostly illusion.
To date, no judge no jury, no judicial nor law enforcement officer has condemned the May 13 bombing of MOVE. In fact, several including former US Attorney Edwin Meese and former Los Angeles police chief Daryl Gates have applauded it. For over 17 years now, I’ve written of the ongoing battles between MOVE and this system. I have seen every substantive so-called constitutional right twisted, shredded, and torn when it comes to MOVE.
Since the early 1970s, I’ve seen male and female MOVE members beaten til bloody and bones broken; locked beneath the jails; caged while pregnant; beaten into miscarriage; starved by municipal decree; sentenced to a century in prisons; homes demolished by bomb, by crane, by cannon, by fire; but I’ve never seen them broken. Throughout this vicious state campaign, the government, the prosecutors, the police, the courts, have had one central aim: renounce MOVE, renounce your allegiance to John Africa, and we’ll leave you alone.
This has been proven. In 1978, a phalanx of 500 heavily armed cops laid siege to MOVE headquarters in Powelton Village, in an alleged attempt to enforce a civil eviction order. During the shoot-in a cop was killed, and all adult MOVE members inside were charged with murder. Before trial, two women told investigators they would resign from the organization even though they too were arrested inside the house. All charges, including murder were dropped. At trial, nine MOVE men and women were convicted of third degree murder, and all were sentenced to thirty to a hundred years in prison. The May 13, 1985 action was an attempt to draw attention to the earlier injustice suffered by MOVE members and demand their release.
As to their innocence, one need go no further than the trial judge of the August 8th case, who told listeners of the popular Frank Ford talk show in Philadelphia, just days after their conviction, that he hadn’t “the faintest idea”, who killed the cop adding, “they were tried as a family, so I convicted them as a family”. MOVE members then were convicted of being MOVE members. Had Ramona Africa emerged from the sea of flames wrapped in fear, had she not instead escaped with her aura of resistance intact, she would have been free long before the seven years she spent in a hellhole. Her prosecutor, describing MOVE as a cult of resistance, demanded jury convict her of a range of charges that, if they did so, would have exposed her to over fifty years in prison. Only her naturalist faith, the teachings of John Africa, allowed her to competently defend herself, where she beat the majority of the charges. Ramona is quote unquote “free” today.
From death row, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal. For more information about my case, racism and the death penalty, and what you can do, contact Equal Justice USA at 301-699-0042.