Ramona Africa Talks MOVE, Liberation and Surviving 1985 Bombing

By: Lamont Lilly,
March 20, 2017,
TeleSUR —

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.

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.

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

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.

 

Ramona Africa Interview on Loud & Clear Radio

Social Justice Activists Still Behind Bars After Decades

Ramona Africa, for the MOVE 9

Noelle Hanrahan, for Mumia Abu-Jamal

Eddie Conway, recently-freed political prisoner;

Cynthia Dunne, for Leonard Peltier

blue-play-button
click to play

 

Loud & Clear radio interview with Ramona Africa
*** Host Brian Becker, Loud & Clear Radio, Sputnik News, July 5, 2016

Janet, Janine & Debbie Africa Denied Parole: Take Action On Tues., June 7, 2016

Janet, Janine and Debbie Africa 2015 First Action From 9:00am to 12:00 Noon

Call, Fax, Email, or Tweet Pa Governor Tom Wolf at:

(P) (717) 787-2500
(F) (717) 772-8284
(Email) pa.gov (contact page)

Twitter  @GovernorTomWolf  OR  Click here to auto-tweet: @GovernorTomWolf Parole Janet and Janine Africa. Parole ALL of the MOVE 9. The F.O.P./police should not decide. Their families need them.

Reach out to Governor and inquire into why Janet (Holloway) Africa #006308, Janine (Phillips ) Africa #006309 and Debbie (Sims) Africa  #006307 were denied parole and why has he allowed these continued illegal denials to continue when he oversees and has responsibility over the same parole board in which he himself has called for reform over?

2-inside-red-circle From 1:00pm to 4:00pm

Call or tweet the office of Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane

(P) (717) 787-3391

Twitter @PaAttorneyGeneral

Reach out to her office and inquire why from a period of 2008 thru 2016 have former police officers and former law enforcement officials been allowed to review a case that revolves around the murder of a police officer and how can an outside organization like the Fraternal Order of Police legally influence the parole review of Move Political Prisoners?

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

We are demanding a complete criminal investigation into the illegal parole denials of the Move 9 Janet (Holloway) Africa 006308; Janine (Phillips) Africa 006309;Debbie (Sims) Africa  #006307; William (Phillips) Africa am4984 (now deceased); Delbert (Orr) Africa am4985; Edward (Goodman) Africa am4974; and, Michael (Davis) Africa am4973.

Eddie Africa Denied Parole by Pennsylvania Parole Board Against Community Wishes

February 23, 2016

Ona Move

Eddie Africa

Eddie Africa

When The Move 9 became eligible for parole in 2008 The Pennsylvania Parole Board took on the responsibility of officials of this system in keeping innocent Move Members in prison for the rest of their lives. From 2008 up until as recent as this past week, all of The Move 9 have been denied parole . We received a call last night from our brother Eddie Africa who was calling to let us know he was denied yet again by The Pennsylvania Parole Board and was given a two year hit where he would not go before the board again until 2018.

The Parole Board has cited the issue of Eddie being a risk to the safety of the community. At Eddie’s parole hearing the Parole Board was presented with a petition of 300 signatures of members of the community who would welcome him on parole into the community and who in fact felt no threat to their safety with Eddie in the community. It’s obvious that this community that the Parole Board is talking about is none other than the law enforcement community across the country who have mobilized against parole for Move Members .

This clearly shows that the Parole Board has no regards to the community of Philadelphia and their input on anything as they only value the input of law enforcement officials who they are obviously working in conjunction with to keep our family in prison. Eddie sounded strong as always and he has not been deterred by this and neither are we. The fight continues to win parole for our family as we prepare for our sisters May 2016 parole hearings.

Ona Move,
The Justice And Accountability Campaign

In the meantime we urge people to Sign the Petition we aimed at U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch as we demand that the Justice Department investigate the wrongful and ongoing imprisonment of The Move 9.  Please sign on at:  https://www.causes.com/campaigns/92454-free-the-move-9.

Bombing Black People: The Philadelphia Police’s War on Move

Global Research News Hour Episode 129
By Michael Welch and Linn Washington
January 31, 2016

Click to hear audio:   audio-iconhttp://www.radio4all.net/files/scottprice666@hotmail.com/4319-1-GRNH_Jan_29_2016_episode_129_session_mixdown.mp3

“May 13, 1985 is a day that shall live in infamy, but for far more reasons than the obvious. It was the death knell of a system committing suicide. It proved that a man called John Africa spoke powerful truths when he spoke about the nature of the system as corrupt, as flawed, as poisoned. Every day past that date has only proved it even more. ” -Mumia Abu-Jamal, from a May 9 2010 radio essay

The only aerial bombing by police ever carried out on US soil was on May 13, 1985, when a Philadelphia police helicopter dropped military grade explosives on the house run by a group of self-styled revolutionaries known as Move. This group, which claims to adhere to principles of non-violence was founded by John Africa in 1972, and was composed mostly, but not exclusively, of African-Americans. They rejected the norms of 20th century American society in their dress, grooming, diet and lifestyles, and had come in conflict with authorities on several occasions.[1]

The 1985 bombing claimed the lives of five children and six adults including founder John Africa. Another adult named Ramona Africa, and a child named Birdie Africa were the only survivors of the assault. More than 250 people in the predominantly black middle class neighbourhood were left homeless after more than 60 other homes were destroyed as a result of the aerial bombing, and the fires that followed.[2]

This attack followed a previous assault on August 8, 1978. A police raid on the Move house, then located in the Philadelphia neighbourhood of Powelton village, resulted in the death of police officer James Ramp. The Courts held nine Move members responsible for the death and sentenced them to 30 to 100 years behind bars. [3]

Thirty-seven years later, two of the nine have died in prison under suspicious circumstances. Supporters of the Move 9, as they are called, are appealing to the Philadelphia Parole Board to set the remaining seven members free, now that they have all served their minimum sentences. [4][5]

In this installment of the Global Research News Hour we examine the attacks on Move in the context of a history of police and state repression of the black minority population of the US.

Ramona Africa showing burns from police bomb on her homeRamona Africa is the spokesperson for Move. She served seven years in prison on riot charges following the bombing by Philadelphia police. She and other plaintiffs eventually received a $1.5 million settlement from the city in connection with the incident. In this interview Ramona provides some background on the group and the police stand-offs in 1978 and 1985, and speaks at length about the unjust incarceration of nine Move members who she explains could not possibly have been responsible for the murder of police officer Ramp.

Linn WashingtonLinn Washington is a journalist and currently serves as an Associate Professor of Journalism at Temple University. He has covered Move almost from the group’s beginnings and was present on the scene as a reporter during the 1985 police action against the group. He will put the 1985 Bombing and the events that led up to it in their proper context and establish the failures, as he sees it, of the media to hold those in authority to account.

Mumia Abu-JamalMumia Abu-Jamal is a renowned journalist from Philadelphia who has been in prison since 1981 and is known as the “Voice of the Voiceless” for his award- winning reporting on police brutality and other social and racial epidemics that plague communities of color in Philadelphia and throughout the world.  Much of his journalism called attention to the blatant injustice and brutality he watched happen on a daily basis to MOVE, a revolutionary organization that works to protect all forms of life–human, animal, plant–and the Earth as a whole.

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 seven survivors of the August 8th, 1978 police assault on MOVE’s West Philadelphia home and headquarters. They are: 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. Phil Africa passed away under suspicious circumstances at the State Correctional Institution at Dallas, PA.

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: onamovellja@aol.com for more information or see http://onamove.com. Or write the MOVE Organization, P.O. Box 19709, Philadelphia, 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!
– by Mumia Abu-Jamal from a May 9 2010 radio essay

For more resources on Move, and how to help the Move 9, please visit the following sites:

http://onamove.com

http://move9parole.blogspot.ca

Support Parole for Eddie Africa

In November 2015 our Brother Eddie Africa is set to make another appearance before the Pennsylvania State Parole Board. Your letters of support is urgently needed. All of the information is below as follows:

We are asking for your support at this critical stage to secure the freedom Eddie deserves.  Feel free to use parts of the sample letter below. Please write in your own words and with your own experiences of/with Eddie.

NOTE: Please send all letters of support to Orie Ross, P.O. Box 575, Times Square Station, New York, NY 10108-0575 so they can be reviewed and sent to the Parole Board. 

Sample Letter:

Board of Probation and Parole
Attn: Inmate Inquiry
1001 South Front Street, Suite 5300
Harrisburg, PA 17104

September 3, 2015

Regarding October 2015 Parole Hearing for: Edward Goodman #AM-4974

Dear Honorable Members of the Parole Board:

As a concerned citizen interested in helping Mr. Goodman successfully transition into life outside prison, I am writing to ask that you please grant him parole.  He has served now  37 years of a 30-100 year sentence, even though the average sentence for his charges is 10-15 years.  He is still in prison years after his minimum sentence despite having no major disciplinary problems in the last three decades.  The notice provided to Mr. Goodman for his last parole denial lists the reasons for the denial as: “Your minimization/denial of the nature and circumstances of the offense(s) committed,” “Your refusal to accept responsibility for the offense(s) committed” and “The negative recommendation made by the prosecuting attorney.”

I understand the severe nature of the crime of which Mr. Goodman was convicted, however, I am concerned that Mr. Goodman maintaining his innocence is seen as an attempt to minimize or deny the nature and circumstances of the offense(s) or refuse to take responsibility, even while there is evidence that corroborates that the shot was fired from a location where it is well known he was nowhere near.  This phenomenon is referred to as “the innocent prisoner’s dilemma” implying that it is unfair and unethical to require someone who may have been wrongly convicted to provide false admission of guilt or remorse.  Please take this dilemma into consideration.

I also understand that Mr. Goodman has not been recommended for parole by the institution where he is held despite having a clear disciplinary record for many years.  In fact, the only time he received a disciplinary infraction in the last fifteen years was for not cutting his hair.  He has completed all of the institutional programs he was asked to complete and has volunteered for others. Please take into consideration his good conduct as well as him having housing and employment secured upon his release. These factors, along with strong family and community support, make it very unlikely that Mr. Goodman will recidivate and I firmly believe that he is an excellent candidate for parole.  I will personally help him acclimate in any way I can upon his release.

Mr. Goodman has now spent most of his life in prison, and the recidivism rate for people released at his age is very low. Please grant parole and allow him to be a part of, and contribute to, society as free citizen, a loving father and grandfather.

Sincerely,

[Name and signature]

Protest Delbert Africa’s Denial of Parole

In June 2015 Our Brother Delbert Africa appeared before The Pennsylvania Parole Board. This was Delbert’s first appearance since being denied in June of 2013. Delbert like other MOVE members were denied Parole by the board based upon the reason:

Delbert Africa is a threat to the community of Philadelphia.

The Parole Board never consulted the community of Philadelphia to find out if we feel Delbert Africa, or any of the MOVE 9, are a danger to us. We resent the Parole Board speaking for us. We emphatically state that the MOVE 9 would be a tremendous asset to the community and specifically Delbert Africa. Delbert has obtained an education and values volunteering his skills to uplift others and is the model of a family-oriented, stable, loving man. This system and it’s officials know our family is innocent.

The Superintendent of SCI Dallas where Delbert is imprisoned AND Delbert’s Counselor recommended Delbert For Parole so the Parole Board is not only lying about the community, but clearly out of touch with their colleagues who know Delbert much better than they do. Many people in the community who The Parole Board are saying are “at risk” all wrote letters of support for Delbert’s Parole.

We know that the police who murder members of our community daily are the real threat to our community, not MOVE. MOVE members were never charge, much less convicted, with being a threat to anybody, so it should not be an issue 37 years later. We resent Parole Board officials presuming to speak for us, especially without ever consulting us, and we demand immediate parole for all of the MOVE 9. We speak for our self and say: “Stop lying on us and parole the MOVE 9 immediately.”

Download this petition and get it filled out by other community members. Mail to us and we will bring them to the Parole Board (or come with us).

Also, please sign this online petition that we have aimed at The United States Justice Department to demand they investigate the unjust imprisonment of The Move 9 as a whole.