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
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
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
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.
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