The significance of some historical events gets lost in time -- The awe when the Panama Canal was built or the first object sent into space. Many proper British subjects were incensed that British royalty actually met with a half-naked man, Mahatma Gandhi.
Locally many proper well-dressed NAACP officials found the Move back to nature collective's attempt to go back to a primitive lifestyle disgusting. And feared it might make White folk think Blacks are savages.
When Mumia Abu-Jamal showed up in court in deadlocks he wasn't being stylish. It was almost like he was in torn old clothing. Some of his well-dressed friends were shocked that a respectable journalist, who had better king's English then most White folk, would start looking like a primitive savage and use curse words and announce that curse words were natural speech. They were flabbergasted that a learned intelligent man could get inspiration from an illiterate handyman, Vincent Leaphart, who was claiming to be communicating with an ancient spirit John Africa.
After things got extremely tense, he was charged with murder. Mumia claimed that Danny Faulkner was assassinated by a fellow police officer, but his well-dressed friends thought Mumia must have fell apart. When he mentioned Officer Faukner getting assassinated by another officer, the TV news keep cutting him off, mid-sentence. His lawyer who was my lawyer as well, Tony Jackson, refused to let him claim, that another police officer had killed Danny Faulkner, and the judge bound and gagged Mumia to prevent him from telling it to the jury.
Even before reading the rest of this article I hope people click on an old article in the Village Voice that shows how tense things were back then villagevoice.com/news/9947,noel,10342,1.html www.villagevoice.com/news/9947,noel,10342,1.html/ And read what the Philadelphia City Paper chose to leave out of their printed version which would have had a positive influence on the judges. My letter is the last letter jumbled with a lot of letters on different subjects. Eric Hammel's letter, up further, also fits in: citypaper.net/articles/2007/08/23/letters-to-the-editor, www.citypaper.net/articles/2007/08/23/letters-to-the-editor/
Prior to being charged with murder, a news report came out of Move members being beat up in court for no reason, which left me and others scratching our heads in disbelief. Then Mumia's version came out, starting with a Move member cursing at a court official, and ending with bits of skin, blood and dreadlocks on a cold, empty, courtroom flood. This later followed by a news report of the police storming Mumia's mother's apartment in the crowded public high-rise where she lived, and badgering her over her son's reporting. Then at 4 am in Philadelphia's red light district, Officer Faulkner who was exposing police corruption to the feds, falsely reported to the dispatcher that he was stopping a Volkswagen going the wrong way on Locust Street. The car belonged to Billy, Mumia's brother and also in the car was "Poppy" or Ken Freeman, Billy's partner. In the end Mumia somehow got involved, and lay wounded, and Faulkner lay dead. Strangely the Volkswagen faced the right way on Locust.
For 23 years, every time Mumia supporters and Mumia haters open their mouths we have been getting a little less history and a little more mis-information about Move. Move is a cross between an anarchistic and a family-oriented organization. So Pam Africa represents herself, not the entire Move collective. Some members don't like the way she dirties her hands and mind with computer technology. However, as a proud grandmother she has a lot of status in Move, and can, for instance, get her children and grandchildren, to attend demonstrations to free Leonard Pealtier. Other members of the collective only attend demonstrations to free Mumia and the Move 9. Now Move 8, because one of the three squaws, which no one ever saw with a gun, had died.
Vincent Leaphart was trying to prove that civilization was totally unnecessary. Move set up a drop out of the rat race, animal loving, back to nature commune right smack in the middle of what then was a slum at 33rd and Race street. There were diaperless children and a bunch of friendly dogs. They weren't ,once well off drop outs ,disgusted with the rat race. Unlike historic prophets, Vincent Leaphart's immediate relatives were involved. According to the ancient spirit John Africa, we are all naturally precious, and will realize that we are so, when we stop civilization from poisoning our mind. Civilization ,according to Move, poisons us into believing that we are not important unless we can prove we are better than our neighbor.
Vincent Leaphart didn't invent the idea of going natural or of dropping out of the rat race. Way before the Hippies, the Luddites opposed technology. But every leader of the counter cultural movement was someone who was originally born with a comfortable lifestyle. Jimmy Carter and Martin Luther King are wonderful people, but Jimmy no more represents a simple peanut farmer, then a rich preacher's son with a fancy education, Dr. King, represents poor ex-sharecroppers. You have to go back 2000 years ago to find a simple carpenter who got people to follow him.
In the 70's when a dreadlocked decked man would pass a mostly black elementary school, the kids would run to the fence shouting, "on the Move."
Then everything changed; civilization asserted its authority by evicting Move. Little Back kids and their bicycles rushed to Move's defense. They were shouting "baby killers" at the police, and demanding that the one Black officer cross the street to be with his people. Then a woman, who was to later hand out baseball bats, pointed to me and the kids demanded that I cross the street to be with my people, but when I headed to the police barricades, an officer raised his club to strike me. The kids thought it was funny and I managed to keep them laughing without being struck with a club. Later, I falsely bragged in the Friend's Journal that me, and the other Quakers that I had phoned to join me, had stopped a race riot.
What actually happened was Wallis Mahammad the head of the Black Panthers came with three followers and yelled, "get your woman and children off the street." One man, who I knew, argued with him that children as young as six and seven were dying in South Africa. Wallace Mahammad kept backing up taking the listening crowd with him. Then they began plucking the kids off the street. Some kept returning but without their bicycles, so when in the distance, someone fired a shot from a building in the distance from toward 36th Street killing Officer Ramp, and up close someone threw a firecracker and the police on horseback charged, horses didn't trip over bicycles, and people were not cut up by twisting bicycles in a deadly carnage. In several cities Black Muslims risked their lives dragging women and children out of harms way, preventing the kind of incidents that inflame Israel-Palestine. Black Muslims, before they were branded a heresy, were rapidly getting both Black and White Americans sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Elijah Muhammad respected true Muslims. His streamlined version of the faith was only for infidel, especially the low life, like ex-armed robbers and muggers drug addicts and slum kids, never recruiting true Muslims unlike bin Laden who is trying to make everyone accept his victory at any price version of the faith. Further back in the past, Communism used to inspire the down and out.
Today the people united can always be exterminated, like in Tianannen Square and more recently in Burma. Today, more and more children are getting inspired by "I'm not going to take it any more" heroes such as at Virginia Tech, Columbine, and with 9/11. Technology keeps making designer germs more deadly, and nukes easier to make. In a few generations any suicide dreamer may be able to destroy us all, unless people like Karl Marx, and Vincent Leaphart can again offer hope to the down and out and the left outs.
My first job out of college was a phych attendant at Fairmont Farm Mental Hospital where I actually helped tie disorderly patents to their beds and participated in preparing a lady for electric shock therapy, but was eventually labeled one of those college do-gooders, and let go. At Farmount Farm, when already suspected of being a do-gooder I was put with the roughest attendant. A mental patient was tied spread eagle to the bed, beggin to go the the bathroom. I somehow managed to talk the other attendant to take this patient to the bathroom. The patient puled back once, and the attendant holding the other arm strap pulled back this escalated until we both dragged him back to be strapped to the bed, getting good repour between us two (for all practical purposes) guards. I can identify with Officer Danny Faulkner getting along real well with his partner when they backed each other up. Identify with Danny proudly heading for a degree in criminal justice, after getting out of the army without a highschool diploma. I can see myself being upset at all the innocent people being framed on drug possession charges. In the 90's there was a scandal where a few police officers were convicted with using, possessing and planting drugs, in the midst of a massive number of early retirements.
I can see myself jumping at an opportunity to prove myself to the corrupt officers around me by framing someone who I thought actually belonged in jail. I can see myself falsely calling in to the dispatcher that a Volkswagen was going the wrong way that, for some reason was facing the right way, unlike it was planned to be doing.
After that I can no longer vision myself as Officer Faulkner beating the sh*t out of Billy, Mumia's brother, and Ken Freeman, Poppy, to force them to tell me why the drugs weren't there. In Billy's 2001 affidavit he stated that an officer he never met, which was surprising because he thought he know them all, stopped his car and demanded to see some papers. And he was bleeding all over his vending goods while looking for them since Officer Faulkner hit him in the ear with his flashlight. He heard a shot, looked up, and say Poppy running away. Billy never claims there was any second final shot, up close. So maybe he thinks he is protecting his police friend and his brother at the same time with his story. Billy claimed, "first my friends in the police department begged me to sign their statement then strangers threatened me." Since,ather than close friends with the police, Billy only reported that officers liked to hang around his stand, and only once, one officer brought his wife to his vending stand to party, it's a little strange that his former friends begged him rather than threatened him, unless he was partly telling the story they wanted to hear. In hindsight I can see myself trying to expose places like Fairmount Farm and getting assassinated in the process. As Michael Schiffman suggests in "Crimes Against Silence, other officers probably took Mumia's gun and assassinated the already wounded Faulkner, to prevent the corruption from coming out in a way that could have led to mass arrests of police officers, rather than massive early retirements.
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