Baby-Snatching Practice Blocked Motherhood For 20-million Seconds (40 years)

June 20, 2018
Linn Washington Jr.
Reprinted from ThisCantBeHappening.net

Justice system abuses mothers with no apologies

Debbie’s son Mike said life was “hard” for him growing up without his mother and father, not having their “guidance” at times when he needed it. Mike said that when he went to wake up his mother the morning after her release from prison he saw her feet for the first time in his life.

“Things people take for granted like just talking to your parents — I never had,” Michael said. “Fortunately I had the support of my parent’s family, other MOVE members and MOVE supporters. It helped a lot.

“I can’t wait to see my dad come home.”

Debbie Africa, with son Mike Africa Jr. with photo of still imprisoned husband/father Mike Africa Sr

Debbie Africa with son Mike Jr. and photo of still imprisoned husband/father Mike Africa Sr. LBWPhoto

The arbitrary and often abusive practices of authorities that drove clashes between MOVE and Philadelphia City authorities were evident in the parole release of Debbie Africa – a parole granted after eight previous parole rejections.

Debbie and fellow MOVE members Janine and Janet each saw the Pennsylvania Parole Board on the same day. Each had similar unblemished prison records, each were credited with positively mentoring other inmates, each were praised for helping keep calm in the prison and each – for the first time ever – had a release recommendation from Philadelphia’s new District Attorney, Larry Krasner.

But the Parole Board rejected Janine and Janet while that Board released Debbie during a process that is completely secret even from lawyers representing inmates.

One reason given by the Parole Board for the rejection of Janine and Janet was they received a negative recommendation from Philly’s DA – a claim that is factually inaccurate according to Brad Thomson, the lawyer who represented Debbie, Janine and Janet during that parole proceeding.

“It is shocking that Janet and Janine were denied parole. Their circumstances and institutional records are nearly identical to Debbie’s,” stated Thomson, who attended the press conference with Debbie and Mike Jr.

“The decision to deny Janet and Janine appears arbitrary and it is difficult to understand how the Parole Board could justify it based on the facts that were presented,” noted Thomson of the People’s Law Office in Chicago.

Then again, arbitrariness and abuse riddled the MOVE 9 trial. The judge who convicted and sentenced the MOVE 9 during a non-jury proceeding said he meted out identical sentences because they “were a family” and that he, therefore, would sentence them as a family – a stance that made a mockery of the so-called maxim of prison time fitting the crime.

Police testimony during that long trial was that only the four MOVE men were armed and the MOVE women, including Debbie Africa, were merely holding children while huddled inside the basement of the then MOVE compound in Philadelphia’s Powelton Village during that 1978 shootout.

(Evidence furthermore indicates that police gunfire accidentally killed the policeman. Police experts could not match the bullet removed from the slain officer to any of the weapons recovered from the MOVE compound.)

The arrest and imprisonment of the MOVE 9 unleashed a chain of events that culminated in the horrific May 13, 1985 incident where Philadelphia police bombed another house occupied by MOVE members and deliberately allowed an inferno sparked by that bomb to burn, preventing firefighters from trying to put it out.

That bomb-triggered blaze incinerated 11 MOVE members including five children. That police blaze also destroyed 61 adjacent homes and left 250 people homeless.

Pennsylvania State Historic Marker near site of deadly 1985 bombing by Philadelphia police and FBI

Pennsylvania State Historic Marker near site of deadly 1985 bombing by police. LBWPhoto

Police snipers drove some MOVE members who tried to flee their burning building back into the inferno where temperatures reached 2,000-degrees. Only one MOVE adult and one child escaped that deadly firestorm.

One of the MOVE members murdered by police action during that 1985 clash was MOVE founder John Africa. The five youth deaths included the children of Janine and Janet, Debbie’s now former cellmates. No Philadelphia police officer or City official faced prosecution for that incident where an FBI agent supplied the main component for that bomb — military C-4 hi-explosive — that Philadelphia police dropped from a Pa State Police helicopter.

Debbie Africa said she is looking forward to strengthening bonds with her children and grandchildren. She will adjust to life outside prison like learning how to use a cell phone, a now ubiquitous device that didn’t exist at the time of her arrest in 1978. And she said she would work for the release of her imprisoned MOVE family members.

‘This is huge’: black liberationist speaks out after her 40 years in prison

Reprint from original
By Ed Pilkington in New York
The Guardian
June 18, 2018

Exclusive: Debbie Sims Africa, the first freed member of a radical Philadelphia group many say were unjustly imprisoned, talks about reuniting with her son and defends the Move members still locked up: ‘We are peaceful people’

Debbie Sims Africa, age 22

Debbie Sims Africa was 22 when she was sentenced. Her release is seen as a major breakthrough for those imprisoned during the black liberation movement. Photograph: Courtesy of Michael Davis Africa Jr

The first member of a group of black radicals known as the Move Nine who have been incarcerated, they insist unjustly, for almost 40 years for killing a Philadelphia police officer has been released from prison.

Debbie Sims Africa, 61, walked free from Cambridge Springs prison in Pennsylvania on Saturday, having been granted parole. She was 22 when with her co-defendants she was arrested and sentenced to 30 to 100 years for the shooting death of officer James Ramp during a police siege of the group’s communal home on 8 August 1978.

She emerged from the correctional institution to be reunited with her son, Michael Davis Africa Jr, to whom she gave birth in a prison cell in September 1978, a month after her arrest.

“This is huge for us personally,” Sims Africa told the Guardian, speaking from her son’s home in a small town on the outskirts of Philadelphia where she will now live.

Davis Africa, 39, who was separated from his mother at less than a week old and has never spent time with her outside prison, said they were coming to terms with being reunited after almost four decades.

“Today I had breakfast with my mother for the first time,” he said. “There’s so much we haven’t done together.”

The release of Debbie Sims Africa is a major breakthrough regarding the ongoing incarceration of large numbers of individuals involved in the black liberation movement of the late 1960s and 1970s who are now growing old behind bars. At least 25 men and women belonging to Move or the former Black Panther party remain locked up, in some cases almost half a century after their arrests.

Michael Davis Africa Jr

Michael Davis Africa Jr on reunited with his mother: ‘There’s so much we haven’t done together.’ Photograph: Ed Pilkington for the Guardian

Sims Africa’s release also addresses one of the most hotly contested criminal justice cases in Philadelphia history. The nine were prosecuted together following a police siege of their headquarters in Powelton Village at the orders of Philadelphia’s notoriously hardline mayor and former police commissioner, Frank Rizzo.

Move, which exists today, regarded itself as a revolutionary movement committed to a healthy life free from oppression or pollution. In the 1970s it was something of a cross between black liberationists and early environmental activists. Its members all take “Africa” as their last name, to signal that they see each other as family.

Hundreds of police officers, organized in Swat teams and armed with machine guns, water cannons, teargas and bulldozers, were involved in the siege, which came at the end of a long standoff with the group relating to complaints about conditions in its premises. Two water cannon and smoke bombs were unleashed. The Move residents took refuge in a basement.

I had to feel my way up the stairs to get out of the basement with my baby in my arms

Sims Africa was eight months pregnant and was carrying her two-year-old daughter, Michelle. “We were being battered with high-powered water and smoke was everywhere,” she said. “I couldn’t see my hands in front of my face and I was choking. I had to feel my way up the stairs to get out of the basement with my baby in my arms.”

Shooting broke out and Ramp was killed by a single bullet. Prosecutors alleged that Move members fired the fatal shot and charged Sims Africa and the other eight with collective responsibility for his death.

Eyewitnesses, however, gave accounts suggesting that the shot may have come from the opposite direction to the basement, raising the possibility that Ramp was accidentally felled, by police fire. After the raid was over, weapons were found within the property. None were in operative condition.

In 1985, Philadelphia authorities carried out an even more controversial and deadly action against the remaining members of Move. A police helicopter dropped an incendiary bomb on to the roof of its then HQ in west Philadelphia, killing six adults including the group’s leader, John Africa, and five of their children.

That incident continues to have the distinction of being the only aerial bombing by police carried out on US soil.

At Sims Africa’s trial, no evidence was presented that she or the three other women charged alongside her had brandished or handled firearms during the siege. Nor was there any attempt on the part of the prosecution to prove that they had had any role in firing the shot that killed Ramp.

Sims Africa has had an unblemished disciplinary record in prison for the past 25 years. The last claim of misconduct against her dates to 1992.

Her attorneys presented the parole board with a 13-page dossier outlining her work as a mentor to other prisoners and as a dog handler who trains puppies that assist people with physical and cognitive disabilities. The dossier includes testimony from the correctional expert Martin Horn, who reviewed her record and concluded it was “remarkable”.

1984 Philadelphia police and FBI bombing of Move members

Philadelphia burn after officials dropped a bomb on the Move house in 1985. Photograph: AP

Horn said Sims Africa had “chosen to be a rule-abiding individual with the ability to be a productive, law-abiding citizen if she is released. I see a record of growing maturity, improved judgment and the assumption of personal responsibility. I do not believe that Debbie Sims is today a threat to the community.”

Sims Africa’s lawyer, Brad Thomson, commended the parole board for “recognizing that she is of exceptional character and well-deserving of parole. This is a storied victory for Debbie and her family, and the Move organization, and we are hoping it will be the first step in getting all the Move Nine out of prison.”

The release of Sims Africa comes less than two months before the 40th anniversary of the siege. Commemorative events are being held in Philadelphia, organised by Move, on 5 and 11 August.

The release of Sims Africa is bittersweet, however. Two of the nine have died in prison – another female inmate, Merle Austin Africa, in March 1998, and Phil Africa in January 2015.

Having to leave them was hard. I was torn up inside because I want to come home but I want them to come with me

Also bittersweet is the fact that Sims Africa went up for parole at exactly the same time, and on exactly the same terms, as the other two remaining Move Nine women – Janine Phillips Africa and Janet Hollaway Africa. They were both denied parole and will have to wait until May 2019 to try again.

Thomson said the disparity in the parole board’s decision was “very surprising”, given that the Philadelphia district attorney’s office that carried out the original trial prosecution had written letters supporting parole for all three. The parole board gave what the lawyer said were “boilerplate justifications” for the denial of Phillips Africa and Hollaway Africa, saying they displayed “lack of remorse”.

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Debbie Sims Africa’s husband also remains behind bars. Mike Davis Africa Sr is next up before the parole board, in September. The other Move Nine prisoners are Chuck Sims Africa, Delbert Orr Africa and Eddie Goodman Africa.

Michael Africa Jr and mother Debbie Sims Africa

Debbie Sims Africa with her son after her release from prison. Photograph: Courtesy of Michael Davis Africa Jr

Debbie Sims Africa told the Guardian the remaining prisoners were constantly in her mind and that she planned to devote much of her time campaigning for their release.

“Having to leave them was hard,” she said. “I was torn up inside because of course I want to come home but I want them to come with me. I was in shock when it didn’t happen that way.”

Asked if the two Move women with whom she had shared a cell in Cambridge Springs would be a threat to society if released, she said: “Absolutely not. They would not be a danger as I’m not.

“Nobody from the Move movement has been released from prison and ever committed a crime, going back to 1988. We are peaceful people.”

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.

Unveiling of MOVE historical marker with MOVE youth speaking

Jubilee School youth unveiling MOVE historical marker

Save the Date: MOVE Art Exhibit and Commemoration

August 5, 2017 - Free the MOVE 9 Program at House of the Lord Church in Brooklyn, NYSaturday, August 5, 2017,

2 – 4 pm: MOVE Art Exhibit – With The Art of Sophia Dawson
$20 – Fundraiser

5 – 8 pm: Program – 39 Years Too Long: Free The Move 9
Free
Featuring:
Ramona Africa (Move Org), Pam Africa (ICFFMAJ), Lawrence Hamm (POP), Suzanne Ross (Free Mumia Coalition), James McIntosh (CEMOTAP), Inez Barron (NYC Councilperson) & Charles Barron (NYS Assemblyperson), and more to be added

House of The Lord Church
415 Atlantic Avenue (bet. Bond & Nevins Sts.) – see map
Brooklyn, NY

For more info: (215) 386-1165 & onamovellja@aol.com

Get flyer

Demand US Atty Gen Loretta Lynch investigate the wrongful ongoing imprisonment of the MOVE 9

Free the MOVE 9!August 8, 2016 will officially mark 38 years since innocent MOVE Members have been unjustly jailed in Pennsylvania state prisons. The position of THE MOVE ORGANIZATION and SUPPORTERS of MOVE has not changed and that position is our family is innocent and we want them home and will not stop fighting until they are home. In 1998 our sister, Merle Africa, died in prison under mysterious circumstances. In 2015 our brother Phil Africa died in prison under mysterious circumstances. From the period of 2008 to as recent as June of 2016 all of our people have been denied parole on what seems to be a questionable bias issue, especially since their prison conduct has been exemplary.

In May of 2015 supporters of the Move 9 put together a petition aimed at United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch demanding an investigation into the wrongful ongoing imprisonment of the Move 9. There are many key facts that demand an investigation into this case by the U.S. Justice Dept.

(1) The Destruction of the Move house by police on August 8, 1978. The house was the scene of the crime and evidence there would easily show that all bullets were shot by the police into the MOVE house, that there were no operable guns in the house and no bullets fired out from the MOVE house.

(2) The Beating Of Delbert Africa By Philadelphia Police on August 8th 1978.
Delbert was visibly unarmed when he was ferociously beaten by police and hospitalized. Delbert’s his civil rights
were violated AND ON FILM, but no police were charged with any crime.

(3) No Move Members were charged with weapons charges after their arrest because they had no weapons–however they were sentenced for shooting a police officer!

(4) After Sentencing Move Members To 30-100 years in prison the trial judge the late Edwin S.Malmed admitted on public radio that he had not the faintest idea who killed officer James Ramp.

Judge Malmed in fact stated that he was sentencing Move Members to prison time for no other reason than being committed MOVE Members.

Sign the petition for a federal investigation now!


Contact these officials who are unfairly denying parole to the MOVE 9

People To Contact and Pressure

PA. Board of Probation And Parole
1101 South Front Street, Suite 5300
Harrisburg, PA. 17104
General: 717-787-5699
Inmate Inquiries: 717-772-4343

Leo Dunn (Chairman); Leslie Grey Esq. ; Everette Gillison Esq.; Craig R. Mckay; Theodore Johnson ; Edward L. Burke; Mark Koch; Linda Pastroff Rosenberg

Media-Related Inquiries: Sherry Tate, Director, 717-231-4411 (8am-5pm)/After 5pm and weekends 717 756-9842/ shtate@pa.gov
Laura Treaster, Deputy Director, 717-231-4411 (8am-4:15pm) ltreaster@pa.gov

More officials>>


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.

Saturday, March 26, 2016 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm

MOVE Women & Sis. Anne

MOVE Women & Sis. Anne

Join the MOVE Organization for a very special tribute for The MOVE 9 Sisters. We prepare for their upcoming May 2016 parole hearings for Janet, Janine and Debbie Africa; we celebrate the work and sacrifices they have made during their 38 years of unjust imprisonment. Also, remembrance of our sister, the late Merle Africa, who died under mysterious circumstances in March 1998 at the State Correctional Institution in Cambridge Springs Pennsylvania after serving twenty years unjustly imprisoned.

Saturday, March 26, 2016 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm
Location: Kingsessing Recreational Center
4901 Kingsessing Avenue
Philadelphia, PA

MOVE women

Speakers: Ramona Africa, Pam Africa, The MOVE Family, Lynne Stewart, Amina Baraka, Phile Chinselou, Anthony Monterio, Leon Williams, Women who were incarcerated with The MOVE 9 Sisters.
Performers: MOVE Youth Rap Groups: Life and Raw
For more info email onamovellja@gmail.com and see The Move 9″ on Facebook and http://move9parole.blogspot.com
Get Flyer: 2016-03-26-MOVE-9-Sisters.jpg

Debbie Africa Denied Parole for Sixth Time

Debbie Sims AfricaThe Philadelphia Fraternal Order Of Police in conjunction with The Pennsylvania Parole Board and Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams have gone all out to ensure that innocent Move Members stay in prison for the rest of their lives. Despite having employment and housing both established and an excellent prison conduct record  and letters of support From people all over the world  The PA Parole Board under the orders of The Fraternal Order Of Police denied Debbie Africa parole for the sixth time.

Debbie a loving Grandmother of nine was denied based on the fact that she was considered a risk to the safety of the community even though their were hundreds of letters of support for parole for Debbie from the community. It was stated that due to the fact that Debbie would not accept guilt or show remorse for the crime that her and other Move Members were convicted of she was denied parole. You can look no further than the late trial Judge Edwin S. Malmed who admitted on public radio after sentencing Move Members to 30-100 years that he had not the faintest idea who killed Officer James Ramp and that he was sentencing Move people to prison for being Move members.

freethemove9-green-web-650x385pxAt this point this isn’t an issue of whether the Move 9 are guilty or innocent. They have all ready been proven innocent and people all over the world know this and these officials that are holding Move members hostage in prison know it. The bottom line is that a crime is being committed. Eight innocent people are being held hostage seven years past their minimum sentence under the orders of The Fraternal Order Of Police. They are doing this in the eyes of the public  for everyone to see. When Do You Say Enough Is Enough?

Debbie went before the board back in May 2014 and was denied parole back in June without her or the public knowing about her parole denial. Debbie was denied parole on 6/18/14 but did not receive her paperwork on the denial until August!  These legalized terrorists known as the Pennsylvania Board have been exposed for all of their wrongdoing in the eyes of the public and are feeling so much pressure over the issue of the Move 9 they are playing the dirtiest and foulest games to divert the public outcry over these parole denials and hearings.

They can no longer do what they do secretly and we are gonna further expose them and their filth. We are taking this campaign to the next level and are gonna keep exposing the crimes being committed by the Pennsylvania Board,  the Fraternal Order of Police, and the Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. This fight is far from over.

ONA MOVE
The Justice And Accountability Campaign