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May 13, 1985 and the Legalization of Murder (featuring a new video interview with Ramona Africa)

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Charged with conspiracy, riot, and multiple counts of simple and aggravated assault, Ramona Africa served the entirety of her 16-month to 7-year sentence after she was repeatedly denied parole for not renouncing MOVE.

Concluding Ramona's 1986 trial, presiding judge Michael R. Stiles told the jurors not to consider any wrongdoing by police and city officials, because they would be held accountable in "other" proceedings. However, no official has ever faced criminal charges.

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In 1996, Ramona successfully sued the City of Philadelphia and was awarded $500,000 for pain, suffering, and injuries. Relatives of John Africa and his nephew Frank James Africa, who died in the incident, were awarded a total of $1 million. Another $1.7 million was paid to Birdie Africa, now Michael Moses Ward.

The jury also ordered that Ramona receive $1 per week for 11 years directly from Sambor and Richmond, but this was overruled by Judge Louis Pollack on grounds that the two had not shown "willful misconduct," and were therefore immune from financial liability.

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The Morning Assault

At 5:35 AM, on May 13, after evacuating the neighbors, Police Commissioner Sambor declared on the bullhorn: "Attention, MOVE! This is America! You have to abide by the laws of the United States," and gave them fifteen minutes to surrender.

After the fifteen-minute deadline passed, several "squirt gun" fire-hoses were directed at the bunker on MOVE's roof, in an attempt to dislodge it. At 5:53, police tear-gassed the front and rear of the house, creating a smokescreen. Police then sent bomb squads to enter the row houses on either side of the building.

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While the bomb squads entered, gunfire erupted, and in the next 90 minutes, police used over 10,000 rounds of ammunition, including 4,500 rounds from M-16s; 1,500 from Uzis; and 2,240 from M-60 machine guns. Simultaneously, the two bomb squads repeatedly detonated explosives in the side walls, and then blew off the front of the house.

Sambor later attempted to justify police gunfire by saying that police had first responded to automatic gunfire from MOVE. However, the only weapons found in MOVE's house were two pistols, a shotgun, and a .22 caliber rifle: no automatic weapons. Sambor was unable to explain this contradiction when challenged by the MOVE Commission.

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Over 40 years ago in Louisiana, 3 young black men were silenced for trying to expose continued segregation, systematic corruption, and horrific abuse in the biggest prison in the US, an 18,000-acre former slave plantation called Angola. In 1972 and (more...)

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