Children of the MOVE family remember MOVE 9 during dedication of new marker

MOVE family youth at marker ceremony on June 24, 2017During the dedication of the new marker on Saturday, June 24, 2017, children of the MOVE family stand silently with photos of MOVE members who have been incarcerated for 38 years. Photograph by Ed Hille, Staff Photographer for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News.

A historical marker was unveiled during a ceremony this afternoon at Osage Avenue and Cobbs Creek Parkway, Philadelphia, where the Move activist community lived until they along with neighbors were bombed in 1985.

The marker is the result of two years’ worth of work by students at the Jubilee School.

 

Students Campaign For Historical Marker Commemorating MOVE Bombing

June 9, 2017
http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2017/06/09/students-campaign-for-historical-marker-commemorating-move-bombing/ (click link to see video)

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The site of the 1985 “MOVE” bombing in Cobbs Creek will soon get a Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission marker.

Jubilee School Students Sucessfully Campaign For Historical Marker Commemorating MOVE Bombing

    Photo still from the video. Click to go online to watch video on CBS.

It was May 13, 1985, when police bombed the Osage Avenue row home of a group of radical black activists known as MOVE.

The resulting fire destroyed 61 homes and killed 11 people, including five children.

“Children younger and older than us were killed by a bomb that was dropped by police and stuff, and they didn’t even know why,” said Jubilee School 6th grader Ella Adams.

Meet Ella, Hannah, Ishtar, Nigel and David.

“I don’t understand how Philadelphia could do that,” said David Bannister, a 7th grader.

These current and former students at the Jubilee School make up “Songs of the Children,” an anti-violence group.

After learning about MOVE last May, teacher Karen Falcon took the group to Osage Avenue.

“The houses look really worn down, it wasn’t rebuilt well,” said Ishtar El, a 6th grader.

What stood out was what was missing: a memorial telling what happened.

“We were like, ‘how about we make a historical marker?’” said Hannah Romer, a 6th grader.

They got 200 signatures and filled out an application for a historical marker; the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission gave approval in March.

The MOVE Bombing marker will be placed at the corner of Osage and Cobbs Creek Parkway. It will summarize the tragedy, including participation by the city, state police, and FBI.

“It’s really empowering, and it makes me feel happy that we could do something like this,” said Ishtar.

They launched a GoFundMe for the plaque for the June 24th dedication and for a documentary for their campaign.  They also sold baked goods. 

“I really want to show that this is out there, and this happened, and we cannot avoid it,” said Hannah.

And that kids, no matter their age, “we can do something about it, and we can make a difference,” said 7th grader Nigel Carter

By taking action, that makes change.

Cherri Gregg

Black woman freedom fighter, Ramona Africa, Discusses MOVE, Liberation and Surviving 1985 Bombing

By: Lamont Lilly,
March 20, 2017,
Workers World, Pt. 1 of 2

The U.S. freedom fighter discusses the history of MOVE and what it means to fight for liberation in part one of an exclusive interview.

Former U.S. political prisoner, Ramona Africa, is the Minister of Communication for the MOVE Organization and a Philadelphia-based organizer with the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal. She is also the only living survivor of the 1985 MOVE bombing, when the FBI and Philadelphia police dropped two C-4 bombs on her organization’s Philadelphia home, killing 11 people.

Lamont Lilly: Ramona, for those who may be unfamiliar, what is the MOVE Organization? Who founded MOVE, and what is the organization about?

John Africa hug

John Africa hug

Ramona Africa: The MOVE Organization is a revolutionary organization founded by a Black man named John Africa. He brought people together from all different backgrounds, nationalities, religions, etc., and gave us one common revolutionary belief. That belief is in the sanctity, and all importance of life, on all levels, without exception. And it is that uncompromising belief commitment to life that has put us in direct conflict with the system that we’re living under, a system that doesn’t care anything about life — whether it’s the air, the water, the soil that feeds us, they don’t care. But as members of MOVE, we are committed to life.

We were animal rights activists long before that term was ever invented. We were environmentalists before that term was ever invented. Everything that John Africa taught us has come full circle.

John Africa had even coordinated a raw food diet for us. He put us in touch with what our natural diet is. People said we were crazy, that we were going to get sick and make our children sick. “You can’t eat raw food like that. You have to cook it,” they would say. Now, what do we see, some 45 years later? You see raw food restaurants, from the West coast to the East coast. You see nutritionists now teaching the benefits of raw food.

John Africa even encouraged MOVE women to have babies naturally, at home. He would tell us, “When you’re pregnant, you’re not sick. You don’t need a hospital to do something as natural as giving birth.” No other species of life goes to a hospital to have a baby.

Another thing, in terms of composting, there’s a new movement going on around this now. Well, MOVE was composting 45 years ago. But when we composted, people went crazy. But today, they put a cute little word on it called “composting” and all of a sudden, it’s the “green” thing to do. We were also homeschooling, 45 years ago.

Lamont Lilly: When exactly did you become a member of MOVE? What period of life was this for you? How did joining MOVE change your life?

Ramona Africa: (Laughing) Oh wow, Lamont! That’s a story within itself. I went to catholic school during my high school years. I had begged my mother to transfer me to a public school, but she wouldn’t do it because she wanted me to have what she perceived as a “good education.” She was also in my ear telling me to be a doctor, be a lawyer, be anything you want to be. So I went with that and decided to focus on the legal system. When I graduated from West Catholic High, I ended up going to Temple University and took up a pre-law curriculum.

It was in my last semester at Temple that I started a work-study program because I needed the money to pay for school. I got hired at community legal services, a free legal aid agency. They assigned me to the housing unit. You can’t work in the Philadelphia housing unit without being an advocate for the poor. That’s when I first started getting active in the community. That period marked my first arrest at the Philadelphia City Council. I eventually had to go to court for that arrest and met a brother named Mel, there. We exchanged numbers, and he would call me and tell me things that were going on. He called me one day and asked if I wanted to go to a meeting to plan a MOVE demonstration.

I lived in West Philadelphia all my life. I had heard about MOVE, but I didn’t really know about MOVE. So I went to the meeting with him. We were supposed to go out that night after the meeting, but I got so wrapped up in the meeting, I wouldn’t go anywhere (laughing). I was really impressed.

The second time I was arrested, the sentencing judge gave me 60 days in the county jail, the “house of corrections.” But you know what, I tell everybody, I owe her a million thanks because she sent me to the county jail for two months, up close and personal with MOVE women. That was the best thing she could have ever done for me. When I walked out, there was no turning back. I wanted to be like MOVE women and became a member in 1979.

Lamont Lilly: It sounds like MOVE really provided a new sense of wholeness and purpose for you.

Ramona Africa: Yes, for me, but my mother had some issues. She was a beautician by trade, and obviously the first thing that struck her was my hair. She had a problem with my hair because, from the time I was knee-high, she would “do my hair” by washing it, pressing it, straightening it and curling it. So, when I let my hair grow and lock on its own, oh my goodness — (laughing) she wasn’t too happy about that.

This was after the Black Power Movement and long before the current period of being Black and unapologetic. A lot of sisters are rocking “naturals” now, but that wasn’t the case in 1979. She also took issue with me not going to law school. I didn’t even go to my graduation at Temple University when I finished undergrad.

Lamont Lilly: You mentioned ‘the system’ earlier and what it had done, can you take us back to May 13, 1985? What happened that day?

Ramona Africa: The first thing that people should be aware of, is that the bombing took place on Monday, May 13, but the cops came out in mass, surrounding our home on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 12, 1985. They laid siege on our home, supposedly because neighbors were complaining about us. What MOVE was saying was that we weren’t denying that some neighbors had complaints about us, but name one community in this entire country where some neighbor doesn’t complain about the other.

Not only that, when has this government ever cared about Black folks complaining about their neighbors? When did that start? Anyone who believes that is foolish. Obviously, the U.S. government does not care about Black folks complaining, about their neighbors, or anything else for that matter. So that “complaining” excuse was just a lie.

They came out there to kill MOVE — to silence our righteous protests, our unrelenting fight concerning the unjust imprisonment of our family members, the MOVE 9 (who were arrested on the false charge of killing a cop on August 8, 1978). That’s why they came out.

They started just like they did in August of ‘78, with the fire department (who take an oath to run into burning buildings and save lives). But in May of 1985, they worked with the cops to kill off life, to kill off the MOVE organization. Firefighters turned the water hoses against us — each hose pumping out 10,000 pounds of water pressure per minute. They had four of those hoses so that’s 40,000 pounds of water pressure per minute. This water was being pumped out for hours, but there was no fire.

When that didn’t drive us out, they breached 3-inch holes in the connecting walls of our house. They wanted to blow holes into the walls to insert tear gas, at least that’s what they said. When they finished exploding what they “claimed” was supposed to be 3-inch holes in the wall — the whole front of our house was blown away. So, when they started inserting tear gas, a lot of it was just coming right back out. That’s when they opened fire on us, and according to them, shot 10,000 rounds of bullets in the first 90 minutes. They had to send to their arsenal for more ammunition.

We were all in the basement. We heard this loud noise that shook the whole house. We were in the basement, but there was still a lot of tear gas in the house that had not found its way out yet, and it started getting a little warmer in there.

MOVE family home after FBI/police bombing on May 13, 1985As the smoke and gas got thicker, we were like “wait a minute, this is something else.” We were listening and could hear the tree in the back of our house crackling as if it were on fire. That’s when we realized that our house was actually on fire. We immediately tried to get our children, our animals and ourselves out of that blazing inferno. But at the point when we were trying to come out, and could be seen trying to come out, the cops opened fire on us, forcing us back in.

We tried several times to get out, but each time we were shot back into the house. This was a clear indication that they didn’t intend for any of us to survive that attack. But finally, like the third time, we knew that we would either choke to death and be burned alive, or were going to be shot to death. So, we made one more attempt at it, to get out. I was closest and got outside the door. I got Birdie out. Everybody was lined up to come out after us.

One of two survivors, Ramona Africa.It was not until they took me into custody and to the local hospital, that I was looking for the rest of my family, but nobody came in. I’m in the hospital and wondering what was going on. I didn’t find out until I left the hospital and was taken to the police administration building (to the homicide unit). Only then, did I find out that there were no other survivors other than me and my young brother, Birdie Africa.

The police were contemplating charging me with the murder of my family.

They charged me with everything they did: possession of explosives, arson, causing a catastrophe, attempted murder, simple and aggravated assault. But the charges and warrant they came at me with were all dismissed when I was able to challenge them in the pretrial. They eventually dropped those charges. Oh, and I forgot. They also threw in “terroristic threats,” which was ridiculous.

Lamont Lilly: So let me get this clear, after all that, you were charged with attempted murder and arson?

Ramona Africa: Yep. Yes, I was. And that was another eye-opener for me because when all the charges and the warrants that they came at me with were dismissed, it seems like anything that came from these bogus warrants would have to be dropped as well. If their reasons for being out there were invalid, then how could anything that was a result of their presence be valid? But they were never going to drop all the charges on me.

Lamont Lilly: Did you serve time for any of those charges?

Ramona Africa: Yes, I did. First of all, I had a US$4.5 million bail. US$4.5 million! I was in jail from May 1, 1985, up until May 13, 1992, because I was convicted of “rioting,” if you can believe that. I was sentenced to 16 months and 7 years. When my 16-month minimum was up, I was told by the parole board that they would parole me, but only if I agreed to sever all ties with MOVE. Sever ALL ties! And I wasn’t about to do that. Instead of being released at 16 months, I did the whole 7 years.

Lamont Lilly: Eleven people were murdered May 13, 1985. How many children died in that bombing?

Ramona Africa: Five children and six adults! And not one single official, on any level, was ever held accountable, ever charged with a single crime against MOVE. But yet, you have the MOVE 9 being called murderers and being imprisoned for 38 years, working on 39 years now. Meanwhile, the people that murdered 11 of my family members, publicly on May 13 of 1985, not one of them was ever held accountable.

Lamont Lilly: As a new generation accepts the baton of mass resistance, the Black Matters Movement, what words of advice would you share?

Ramona Africa: The first and most important thing is to never stop. Don’t ever stop pushing and fighting. Don’t ever give in! Be consistent. Don’t allow yourselves to be disillusioned. Don’t allow anyone or anything to buy you off. And don’t allow yourselves to be compromised or co-opted, because trust me, they will try. You can definitely believe that!

This system will come at you with all kinds of things. All kinds! But if you fall for it, you’re done. You’re done, and that’s what they bank on. They bank on people flaring up for an instant and then fizzling out.

One last thing I really want the young people to remember. We do this work out of love, not hate. Love for life and the people. Long live John Africa! Long live the revolution! Ona move!

Lamont Lilly was a U.S. delegate at the International Forum for Justice in Palestine in Beirut, Lebanon. He is also an activist and organizer in the Black Lives Matter movement.

Chris Hedges Interviews Ramona Africa on 32nd Anniversary of the Bombing of MOVE

On the 32nd Anniversary of the MOVE bombing, Chris Hedges is joined tonight by Ramona Africa, the last remaining survivor of the 1985 standoff with Philadelphia police. On Contact on RT News on May 13, 2017.

See entire show including a segment with Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Ramona Africa and Kareem Howard Interviewed on the Morning Feed show on G-Town Radio

Morning Feed on G-Town Radio: Interview with Ramona Africa and Kareem Howard
Ramona Africa and Kareem Howard visit the Morning Feed Radio Show and share the genesis of MOVE and the journey to today.

Link:  https://www.mixcloud.com/MorningFeed/morning-feed-ramona-africa-and-kareem-howard/

Students Make Historical Marker for 1985 MOVE Family Bombing

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has approved a historical marker for the West Philadelphia site of the 1985 MOVE bombing, near Osage Avenue and Cobbs Creek Parkway.

The marker was nominated by students of the private, Southwest Philadelphia-based Jubilee School who for two years have studied the 1985 incident in which Philadelphia police dropped a bomb on a residential neighborhood, leaving 11 dead — including five children – and 61 rowhomes destroyed.

“The students were determined to get the whole story and not just one perspective,” said Karen Falcon, history teacher and director of the Jubilee School. “They understood that the neighbors had a different perspective than the MOVE members, and that everybody’s perspective – other than the city government – had some relevance. The students had a very complex view of what happened.”

MOVE family home after FBI/police bombing on May 13, 1985

                          MOVE family home after FBI/police aerial bombing on May 13, 1985

According to Karen Galle, Historical Marker Program Coordinator, only 18 markers were approved for 2017, and the decision regarding the MOVE bombing location was tough.

“Generally speaking markers are marking people, places, events and innovations that do have a positive light,” she said. “But the panel thought it was important to mark this because it did have substantial impact and maybe would go to preventing something similar from happening again.”

Founded in 1977, the Jubilee is a private Pre-K to 5th grade school at 4211 Chester Ave., with less than 100 students who not only study the world, but the history and culture of its neighborhood. The 4th- and 5th-grade students’ historical research into MOVE was sparked in 2015 by Freddie Grey’s death and led to their investigation into police brutality and the subsequent 1985 MOVE encounter.

After visiting the Osage Avenue site and interviewing residents, journalists, neighbors and police, the students decided to submit a nomination for a historical marker.

In applying for the PHMC marker the students wrote: “The MOVE bombing wasn’t only an issues of the City of Philadelphia or the State of Pennsylvania. It made an impact nationwide and was reported in the international press. It’s part of American history. Since there were no consequences to the police and city officials for their actions, it paved the way for government assistance to, and tolerance of, police brutality. The reason Pennsylvania needs to have this historical marker is that the MOVE bombing was one of the most extreme cases of police violence and government abuses of power. The marker can help spread awareness of a troubled history which has been buried for so many years. Not enough people are aware of what happened on May 13th, 1985. The marker will inform people about that tragic event. It can open eyes to mistakes that were made that still haven’t been resolved. When history is known, people can learn from problems of the past so they can make improvements for the future.”

The marker will be dedicated June 24, 2017.

Water in Mahanoy Correctional Institute (Eddie Africa & Mumia) is Severely Polluted

Saturday, April 01, 2017
By Lamont Lilly, Workers World,
Interview – Segment of Part 2 of 2.

Lamont Lilly: I heard that the prison where Mumia Abu-Jamal is being detained doesn’t have clean drinking water. Is that true? You also have family members in that prison. What have you heard about this?

Polluted water in Dixie cupsRamona: Lamont, let me tell you. I know people have heard about Flint, Michigan but contaminated water is not just in Flint. The prison that our brother Eddie Africa and Mumia are in is called Mahanoy Correctional Institute. The water there is so so bad! It is so bad that they started giving the inmates, (and this is ridiculous), three little Dixie cups of water with each meal. That’s nine little Dixie cups of water per day because the regular water is not drinkable. This is what they’re giving them, nine little Dixie cups of water per day? It’s unreal! Most people have no idea this is going on.

Where my brother Mike Africa is being incarcerated, at Graterford Prison here in Pennsylvania the water is really bad there, too. He convinced the “Lifer’s Association” to sell bottled water. It’s one of their fundraisers. But he pays like close to US $20 for a case of water. That’s ridiculous. He’s spending 60 bucks a month for water.

They were telling the guards, straight up, don’t drink the water; bring your own. My brother Mike works in the kitchen there, and he was telling me that in the guard’s dining room they have filters on the water spigots, but not for the inmates, of course. That is the state of what’s happening in this country, not just with Mumia, but in prisons all over this country.

I don’t know what it’s going to take for people to really, and I mean REALLY, get the message that this system and those running it are not operating in our interests, in the interests of the people. Their only interest is money and keeping this system going. I don’t know when people are really going to get that, but we can’t look to this system for anything.

…I don’t know what it’s going to take for people to realize that we don’t need this system. We can’t use or get anything from this system. It’s the system that needs us — that relies on the people, not the other way around. We have to let this system go and make up our minds to do for ourselves because we sure aren’t getting anything from this system. Nothing!

Thank you, Lamont. Long live the revolution! Free Mumia! Ona move!

Read entire interview:  http://www.workers.org/2017/03/26/former-u-s-political-prisoner-ramona-africa-discusses-mumia-abu-jamals-incarceration-u-s-prisons-and-donald-trump/#.WTORPhPytE4

Michael Africa Sr Denied Parole

Mike Davis Africa Sr.Back In 2014 our Brother Michael Africa Sr went before The Pennsylvania Parole Board and was as expected denied parole. What was even more sinister with this parole denial was the fact that Michael was given a five year hit, that is, he cannot come back to The Parole Board for five more years!  One of the reasons cited was that Michael was considered a threat to the safety of the community at large. Back in 2015 Michael had appealed this denial and was granted an appeal hearing that took place in August of 2016. Nonetheless, after a six month wait Mike was finally given word that he was again denied parole. We know that Michael was given a one year hit for reasons not yet cited, but as usual we know the forces behind his denial .

A couple of weeks ago we brought to people’s attention the background of Mark Koch one of the newest members of The Pennsylvania Parole Board. We exposed in full Mr. Koch’s lifelong career in Law Enforcement and the Special Role he has played with The Fraternal Order of Police. We exposed to people the danger in having someone of such a long storied background in law enforcement voting over the potential release of parole for Move Political Prisoners. Mr Koch was one of The Parole Board Members who recently voted against parole for Michael as was to be expected. The Fraternal Order of Police no longer have to lobby against parole for The Move 9 now that they have one of their members in place on the Pennsylvania Parole Board to do their work.

From 2012-2014 a former Board Member Randy Feathers voted against parole for the Move 9 stating in their denial that they were a risk to the safety of the community. Meanwhile, Randy Feathers resigned from his position from the board due to himself being involved in the recent kiddie porn scandal with recently convicted disgraced former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane!  A man that is the greatest risk to the safety of every child in the community stated that our family risks a threat to the communities safety and cannot be paroled!

We are asking people to Sign And Share the petition we have aimed at The United States Justice Department calling for a civil rights investigation into the case of The Move 9. People can sign the petition at https://www.causes.com/campaigns/92454-free-the-move-9.

Ona Move
The Justice And Accountability Campaign

For More Info:
https://move9parole.blogspot.com
http://onamove.com
Justice For The Move 9/Facebook

Clean Water Resolution Passes Philadelphia

Thank you, Philadelphia Councilpersons Jannie Blackwell, Curtis Jones and Cindy Bass for their work on this resolution that passed the Philadelphia City Council on October 28, 2016.  Thank you, Pam Africa, for your overall initiation and shepherding of this resolution.

Resolution

Calling upon Governor Wolf and the Pennsylvania State Legislature to ensure that individuals incarcerated and working in state prisons have access to clean water and proper health services.

WHEREAS, Recently there have been claims of black, foul smelling water at SCI Mahanoy, SCI Frackville and other State Prisons in Pennsylvania, as well as reports of prisoners not receiving specialized medications needed to treat their health conditions; and

WHEREAS, Recently there have been claims of black, foul smelling water at SCI Mahanoy, SCI Frackville and other State Prisons in Pennsylvania, as well as reports of prisoners not receiving specialized medications needed to treat their health conditions; and

WHEREAS, In some cases, the water is so toxic that prisoners are unable to use the water, leaving them with little to no drinking water and virtually no water to bathe in or in less severe cases prisoners are left to drink and bathe in dirty brown water; and

WHEREAS, Using the dirty water can exacerbate existing health conditions for some prisoners, and many prisoners do not have proper access to healthcare services to met their medical needs, and those needing medication become increasingly ill without it; and

WHEREAS, While the water problems at SCI Mahanoy and Frackville are fairly recent, other state prisons have been experiencing similar problems for years causing both prisoners and guards to experience serious health problems including but not limited to shortness of breath, dizziness, body sores and tumors; and

WHEREAS, The Department of Corrections has received complaints about the ongoing issues regarding water and medication but has reportedly not alleviated the problems; and

WHEREAS, The cause of the contaminated water has not been confirmed by the Pennsylvania State Government, and more resources and energy need to be devoted to solving this water and health crisis; and

WHEREAS, The Government bears the responsibility of protecting its prisoners and should remember that those who are incarcerated are people too, deserving of the basic human necessities that are required for their survival. Therefore, we ask that there be a sense of urgency in resolving these issues that affect the health of individuals under the Pennsylvania State Government’s care; and

WHEREAS, A copy of this resolution will be forwarded to the Governor and to all members of the Pennsylvania State Legislature.
Now therefore, be it resolved that the City Council of Philadelphia Calls upon Governor Wolf and the Pennsylvania State Legislature to ensure that individuals incarcerated and working in state prisons have access to clean water and proper health services.

Jannie L. Blackwell
Councilwoman, Third District, City Council of Philadelphia

Cindy Bass
Councilwoman, Eighth District, City Council of Philadelphia

Curtis Jones Jr.
Councilman, Fourth District, City Council of Philadelphia

Ramona Africa Interviewed by The Guardian newspaper from London

Media descended on Philadelphia last week for the Democratic National Convention (DNC) which exhorted Democratic Party faithful to back Hillary Clinton for president in 2016. Many media wanted to cover additional stories about Philadelphia and Ramona Africa gave several interviews. Check out this well-made video interview by The Guardian newspaper, all the way from London.