MOVE communication minister Ramona Africa, is touring the UK for two weeks to talk about the MOVE Organization, the events of May '85, the MOVE 9, Mumia Abu-Jamal and what they stand for. Come to listen to her story and watch the "MOVE" documentary.
They eat predominately raw food, don't cut their hair or use cosmetics, don't use drugs or medicines, reject hospitals and health care in childbirth and allow marriage as soon as children are of child bearing age. Their behavior and political views have bought them demonisation and constant persecution by the authorities in the USA. They have always refused to back down to police brutality, the infamous result of which has been bloody confrontations, death and the imprisonment of their members.
Controversy also follows them in relation to the deaths of several police officers and the unsolved murder of John Gilbride in 2002 after a child custody dispute. One of their most vocal supporters has been Mumia Abu-Jamal, himself serving life imprisonment accused of murdering a police officer.
One thing is certain, the views and lifestyles of those in the organisation are extremely radical and of great interest to those seeking workable alternatives to the authoritarian capitalist system.
Below is the text from a collection of writings the group call 'The Guidelines' which were writen by the founder of the group, John Africa.
OUR RELIGION - LIFE
JOHN AFRICA taught us that Life is the priority. Nothing is more important or as important as Life, the force that keeps us alive. All life comes from one source, from God, MOM NATURE, MOMA. Each individual life is dependent on every other life, and all life has a purpose, so all living beings, things that move, are equally important, whether they are human beings, dogs, birds, fish, trees, ants, weeds, rivers, wind or rain. To stay healthy and strong, life must have clean air , clear water and pure food. If derived of these things, life will cycle to the next level, or as the system says, "die."
We believe in Natural Law, the government of self. Man-made laws are not really laws, because they don't apply equally to everyone and they contain exceptions and loopholes. Man-made laws are constantly being amended or repealed. Natural Law stays the same and always has. Man's laws require police, sheriffs, armies, and courts to enforce them, and lawyers to explain them. True law is self explanatory and self enforcing. In the undisturbed jungles, oceans, and deserts of the world, there are no courtrooms or jails. The animals and plants don't need them. No living being has to consult a law book to be able to know if they have to cough, sneeze, or urinate. Natural Law says that when you see something getting too close to your eye, you will blink, whether you are a German Shepherd or a Supreme Court Justice.
All living things instinctively defend themselves. This is a God-given right of all life. If a man goes into a bear's cave, he violates and threatens the bear's place of security. The bear will defend his home by instinctively fighting off the man and eliminating him. The bear is not wrong, because self defense is right.
RIGHT AND WRONG
The fact that something is legal under the system's laws, doesn't make it right. Slavery was legal. Killing Native Americans and stealing their land was all done legally. JOHN AFRICA taught us that what is right applies equally, across the board. If something is right, it's right for all of life, with no separations.
We don't believe in this reform world system - the government, the military, industry and big business. They have historically abused, raped and bartered life for the sake of money. These rulers and policy makers don't care who they kill, enslave, cripple, poison or disease in their quest for money. They have made material wealth a priority over life. Marvels of science and technological so-called advancements all stem from the system's greed for money and disrespect for life. But a person who is suffocating or drowning doesn't call out for diamonds, gold, or wads of money. The person will do all in their power for a breath of air, because air is a necessity and money is worthless. Over the last century, industry has raped the earth of countless tons of minerals, bled billions or gallons of oil from the ground, and enslaved millions of people to manufacture cars, trucks, planes and trains that further pollute the air with their use. And because of the billions of dollars in profits to be made, the system will favor artificial transportation over the legs and feet Mama gave us to walk and run with. Big business and industry are responsible for the mass production and mass marketing of cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs, which are used to extract further profits from people while keeping them sick and addicted. Politicians are put in place to legalize, endorse, and protect industry and big business, therefore we don't believe in politics at all.
MOVE's work is revolution. JOHN AFRICA's revolution, a revolution to stop man's system from imposing on life, to stop industry from poisoning the air, water, and soil and to put an end to the enslavement of all life. Our work is to show people how rotten and enslaving this system is and that the system is the cause of homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, alcoholism, racism, domestic abuse, AIDS, crime, war, all the problems of the world. We are working to demonstrate that people not only can fight this system, they must fight they system if they ever want to free themselves from endless suffering and oppression.
BEING A REVOLUTIONARY
Revolution starts with the individual. It starts with a person making a personal commitment to do what's right. You can't turn someone into a revolutionary by making them chant slogans or wave guns. To understand revolution, you must be sound. Revolution is not imposed upon another, it is kindled within them. A person can talk about revolution, but if they are still worshiping money, or putting drugs into their body, or beating their mate, they obviously haven't committed themselves to doing what's right. Revolution is not a philosophy, it is an activity.
We are a deeply religious organization. We know that the current political system resents our clean, righteous example and wants to stop us from exposing their corruption even if they have to kill us. Just as Jesus was labeled a radical and persecuted to death by politicians of his day for what he said, we know how threatening our message is to those in power and why they come down so hard on us. We expect it and we are prepared for it.
THE DURATION OF THE STRUGGLE
We don't measure our success with reference to a calendar. As long as we do what's right, the only way things can turn out is right, regardless of time. We are not anxious or impatient and we will not compromise our principle for quick, temporary results. We don't necessarily expect to see a dramatic change in this system in our lifetime or our children's lifetime. We know that many hundreds of years of degeneration and imposition will take many hundreds of years to correct, but the initial turning of the tide has to start somewhere. JOHN AFRICA began that process through the MOVE Organization. LONG LIVE JOHN AFRICA!
Our organization was founded by JOHN AFRICA, however, he is not our leader. JOHN AFRICA has equipped each of us with the wisdom, strength, and understanding to lead ourselves. Using the strategy of JOHN AFRICA, we know we can't fail. Everything that happens to us happens a certain way, because it's supposed to.
LIVING AS A REVOLUTIONARY FAMILY
All committed MOVE members take the last name "Africa" out of reverence for our Founder JOHN AFRICA, and to show that we are a family, a unified body moving in one direction. We have Black, White, Puerto Rican members from upper and lower class backgrounds, both college and street (mis)educated. While we do not heed the system's legal institution of marriage, we do adhere to the natural law that requires one male and one female to mate and produce new life. We are monogamous. JOHN AFRICA taught us that childbearing is a natural, instinctive function of a mother and requires no drugs or hospital stays.
We dearly love our children. We protect them and watch over them so they will become healthier and stronger than we ourselves. We are all one family and all the adults help to look after the kids. We don't punish them through beatings or physical abuse. If they do something wrong, the whole family takes part in giving them direction and showing them what's right. We don't send them off to school for the system's brainwashing and indoctrination. We stay close to our children and they stay close to us.
Our hair is left the way nature intended, uncombed and uncut. Though we don't favor using the system's chemicals, cosmetics, and disposable conveniences, we do spend a good deal of time keeping ourselves and our surroundings clean and tidy. We dress functionally, in clothing that doesn't interfere with our active lives.
RAW FOOD AND DISTORTION
The diet of JOHN AFRICA gave us consists of fresh raw food. We always keep plenty of wholesome raw food on hand and eat whenever our bodies tell us to, not according to artificial meal-time standards. We make sure no one around us goes hungry, because we know that good food is an essential requirement of life. We acknowledge that some of us were raised on the system's food, or "distortion"- as we call it. Doing the work we do can also put us under a lot of pressure when parent and child or husband and wife are separated by the system's oppression. So it is not uncommon to see some of use eating cooked food on occasion. However, you will never see a committed MOVE member use drugs, cigarettes, or alcohol. The hundreds of miles that the system has placed between us and some of our brothers and sisters in distant prisons has also forced us to use cars to maintain the close contact our family is used to. But we look forward to the day when we can live together the way we want to, without a ness for air-polluting technology.
CARING FOR LIFE
To keep ourselves healthy and strong, we rely on plenty of exercise as well as good hard physical labor. Scrubbing floors, sweeping walks, and running dogs are daily tasks. Maintaining the hundreds of pounds of food we keep stocked is a big job, too. We have seeds for the birds, nuts for the squirrels, raw meat for the dogs and cats, and fruits and vegetables for the people. We love all life. It is tremendously upsetting for us to see someone mistreat an animal and we will take immediate action to stop anyone from beating a dog, throwing stones at birds, or causing similar impositions on innocent life.
THE NAME MOVE
The word MOVE is not an acronym. It means exactly what it says: MOVE, work, generate, be active. Everything that's alive moves. If it didn't, it would be stagnant, dead. Movement is the principle of Life, and because MOVE's belief is Life, our Founder, JOHN AFRICA, gave us the name "MOVE." When we greet each other, we say "ON THE MOVE!"
"THE POWER OF TRUTH IS FINAL"
MOVE is not a pacifist organization. Its members believe in the right to bear arms in self-defense, and did so in 1977 after police jailed three members and attacked their home in the Powelton Village section of Philadelphia, killing a young child. A year-long siege by police came to a head on Aug. 8, 1978, when officers fired hundreds of rounds of ammunition into the basement of the MOVE house, where members had retreated.
Nine MOVE members were later convicted in connection with the shooting death of Philadelphia police officer James Ramp, even though evidence indicated that the bullet that killed Ramp could not have been fired from the MOVE house. Within 24 hours of the assault, police completely destroyed the MOVE home in Powelton Village, along with any evidence that would support the MOVE members’ defense. Three police officers who brutally and publicly beat MOVE member Delbert Africa after the shootout were acquitted.
Anticipating a renewed police attack, MOVE fortified the group’s new home in the 6200 block of Osage Avenue in a predominantly African-American area of west Philadelphia. They used a loud speaker system in an effort to educate their neighbors about the case of the MOVE 9 and the ongoing danger of police attack.
Saying they were responding to neighbors’ complaints, 500 police evacuated the neighborhood at dawn on May 13, 1985, then surrounded and attacked the house with over 10,000 rounds of ammunition in 90 minutes. Small explosive charges and water from fire department hoses were also used to attempt to penetrate the house. All the while, police and city officials were aware that several children were inside.
In January 1985, four months before the siege, a special agent of the FBI had given the Philadelphia police bomb squad 30 blocks of C-4, the most lethal of military plastic explosives. In the afternoon of May 13, a police helicopter dropped a bomb containing C-4 on the roof of the MOVE home on Osage Avenue, starting a fire.
The fire, which started on the roof of the house, was allowed to burn for 45 minutes before fire hoses were turned on. By then, the blaze was starting to devour the entire block. MOVE members who attempted to escape from the rear of the building were shot at by police. Only Ramona Africa and 13-year-old Birdie Africa escaped the fire. Eleven MOVE members were killed in the fire, and 250 area residents were left homeless.
Even though a special commission formed in 1986 to investigate the bombing concluded that police fired on MOVE members trying to escape, a grand jury denied this in 1988. No government official or police officer has ever faced criminal charges in connection with the MOVE deaths. All the Philadelphia bomb squad officers took the Fifth Amendment and refused to cooperate in any way with the commission.
Ramona Africa, however, was convicted of riot and conspiracy and served seven years in prison. After her release she won a federal civil-rights judgment against the city for $1.5 million. The only person to serve any prison time in connection with the bombing was Ramona Africa, the only adult member of MOVE to survive the fire.
More information on MOVE and the bombing is contained in an award-winning documentary produced by Cohort media called “MOVE.” It’s a must-see for any activist too young to remember the events of 20 years ago. Information on this documentary is available at http://www.movefilm.com.
from Workers World
There is absolutely no valid reason for MOVE People to be denied parole and these officials know it. This is why they are already beginning their campaign against parole for The MOVE 9, they’re doing it through the news media. They’re trying to convince the people that MOVE is vicious, violent and should not be allowed back out on the streets. We are confident that people know better but it’s not enough to just know it.
People have to get into action, get on the move and let the parole board and these sneaky, deceptive officials know that you’re aware of what’s going on here and that you’re watching. Let them know that you’re well aware that the issue is people who should never have been put into prison in the first place. There are several very clear issues that we expect officials to try to use against The MOVE 9. The first is the issue of accountability and remorse. Parole boards generally require inmates to take responsibility for the crimes they’re convicted of and express remorse.
Obviously this is not gonna happen with MOVE because MOVE is innocent and has nothing to be remorseful about. This procedure of the parole board is blatantly in violation of their own laws because, first of all, they are not allowed to force somebody to incriminate themselves, which is what you’re doing if you’re coerced into saying you’re guilty.
MOVE is innocent and is not gonna lie and say we’re guilty of something we didn’t do. What are these officials saying? If you say you’re a murderer you will be released but if you maintain your innocence you stay in prison? What kind of sense does that make? Secondly, the parole board has deviously overstepped its authority by denying inmates parole under the guise of “serious nature of offense” even when the inmate has a clear conduct record in prison and has completed all the programs that they were assigned to. The parole board has no right to do that.
The judge took into consideration the “serious nature of the offense” when the judge gave the sentence. When the judge gave the minimum sentence, the judge determined when that inmate should be released, barring any problems within the prison during the sentence. The parole board has no authority to go beyond that and virtually resentence people, adjust their minimum sentence. These are very clear issues that people can deal with simply and effectively when dealing these officials. Don’t let these official idiots fast-talk you, they cannot justify their position at all. You have all the leverage you need because your position is right and true.
The people that should be focused on is the parole board itself but also District Attorney Lynn Abraham who has been involved in the conspiracy against MOVE, particularly The MOVE 9, since 1977 when she was a judge signing illegal warrants that ultimately lead to the August 8, 1978 police attack. The other person is Governor Edward Rendell, who was the district attorney in 1977 and 1978 and fully and knowingly participated in the conspiracy to send innocent MOVE people to prison. These two officials are still in positions where they can be and must be held accountable for their role in this atrocity, especially since they are in official positions where they can actually do something about it.
From now until 2008, we expect the official campaign against parole for The MOVE 9 to escalate, so be prepared. Arrange whatever informational forums you can to allow us to keep people informed of this situation, even radio programs where we can arrange for The MOVE 9 themselves to call in. Below you will find the information for The Pennsylvania Parole Board, Lynn Abraham and Ed Rendell. Contact them and let them that know you’re watching this situation and that The MOVE 9 must be paroled, nothing else is acceptable.
PA. Board Of Probation And Parole/ Central Office
Riverfront Office Center
1101 South Front Street
Harrisburg, PA. 17104
Phila. District Parole Office
State office Building, 14th Floor
1400 Spring Garden Street
Phila., PA. 19130
Catharine C. Mcvey/ Chairperson; Michael L. Green; Jeffrey R. Imboden; Matthew T. Mangino; Benjamin A. Martinez; Gerard N. Massaro; Michael M. Webster; Lloyd A. White
District Attorney Lynn Abraham
Three South Penn Square
Phila., PA. 19107-3499
215 686-8700/ Fax 215 563-0047
Governor Edward Rendell
225 Main Capital Building
Harrisburg, PA. 17120
717 787-2500/ Fax 717 772-8284