Listen to the radio-essay here
Incredibly, it's been almost 30 years - 30 years! - since 9 MOVE men and women were unjustly consigned to prisons across Pennsylvania.
Although known as the MOVE 9, there really are eight survivors of the August 8th, 1978 police assault on MOVE's West Philadelphia home and headquarters.
They are: Phil Africa, Janine Africa, Mike Africa, Debbie Africa, Janet Africa, Eddie Africa, Chuck Africa and Delbert Africa. The late Merle Africa died at the women's prison in Muncy, PA (near Williamsport, PA) under quite mysterious circumstances.
All 9 MOVE men and women were convicted in one of the longest (and most contentious) trials in city history, on dubious charges of 3rd degree murder of a city cop engaged in the raid on their home, and related charges. Even if all the charges were true (and they most certainly are not), the sentence 30 to 100 years can only be termed grossly excessive. At the time of trial, 3rd degree carried a sentence of 71/2 to 15 years --so essentially the MOVE people got more than double, and indeed, quadruple the maximum of what the statute provided. Indeed, the woman got the same sentences as the men, even though none of them faced weapons charges!
There's little real doubt that they're in prison today because they're MOVE members.
Today, 30 years later, they should be entitled to their freedom--and they would be, but for the concerted campaign of cops and local media to keep them imprisoned for a century.
MOVE members continue to fight for their imprisoned brothers and sisters, and they ask that you join that struggle by supporting their parole demands. On the web, contact:
Or write the MOVE Organization, P.O. Box 19709, Phila, PA, 19143.
As many of you know, I covered the press conference of August 8th, 1978. Every reporter present knows that within hours of that press conference, the police department issued a written press release giving a completely revised statement of how the cop met his death. That makes sense when you consider that the cop was most likely the victim of friendly fire, for the MOVE house had become a shooting gallery, with police expending literally hundreds of rounds during the raid. Moreover, when's the last time you've seen a crime scene destroyed before nightfall, within hours of the shooting?
It happened here.
I also covered the trial, a parade of legalized injustice if ever there was one. Indeed, days after the trial, Judge Edwin S. Malmed took to the airwaves to defend his unjust rulings. On a radio talk show on WWDB-FM, I phoned him and asked him if he knew who killed the cop. He replied, live on air, "I haven't the faintest idea."
Yet, this guy sent 9 people to prison for 30-to-100 years!
--(c) '08 maj