Sole remaining survivor of MOVE 9 tragedy gravely ill; community seeks funds

By Cherri Gregg
August 22, 2018
Reprinted from WKY News Radio

Supporters have launched a GoFundMe account.

WEST PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The last remaining survivor of the 1985 MOVE tragedy is gravely ill, and her supporters are asking for help.

“Ramona Africa’s health is critical at this point,” Sue Africa told reporters Wednesday, August 22, 2018, as she stood [at a press conference] outside of a home in West Philadelphia. Several members of the MOVE organization stood alongside her, including Michael Africa, Pam Africa, and Consuela Africa, whose two daughters were killed in the bombing.

“The people must come together to fight with us to ensure she comes through this,” said Consuela. She asked the public to help Ramona, who they say has lymphoma [which caused a stroke] and is disabled.

“She cannot walk because she suffered a terrible stroke,” Sue continued, “and now her insurance has run out.”


Sue said Ramona has insurance through UnitedHealthcare, which only pays for 30 days of treatment. Supporters are looking for more insurance, but say there is a lag time for the new insurance to kick in. While they wait, they say Ramona is regressing and she needs help now.

“They say it could take three to six months,” she said. “Mona can’t survive three to six months without therapy.”

Ramona Africa in hospitalSupporters launched a GoFundMe account seven days ago. So far, they have raised more than $14,000 of the $40,000 goal.

“We just need help at this particular time,” said Pam Africa.

The family refused to identify the facility that Ramona is housed in, citing her safety and wellness as a concern. Pam said Ramona took ill two months ago, around the same time Debbie Africa, the first member of the MOVE 9 imprisoned for the death of Philadelphia Police Officer James Ramp, was released.

“We have the best interest of our sister at heart,” Pam added. “We have good doctors working with her, as well as our own herbalists helping her.”

The family says they will be pressuring the insurance company to provide services. In the meantime, Sue said Ramona remains in good spirits.

“Mona is a survivor — it’s in her,” she said. “She will survive this and walk away from this and teach around the world.”

Audio story: https://omny.fm/shows/kywam-on-demand/supporters-announce-efforts-to-help-last-survivor/embed?style=cover&size=square&share=1

Donate to Ramona at https://www.gofundme.com/helpsaveramonaafrica.

Help Ramona Fight For Her Life

The MOVE Organization is informing our supporters, sympathizers and all those in solidarity with the cause of revolution, that our much beloved Ramona Africa, MOVE’s Minister of Communication, survivor of the May 13, 1985, holocaust, has been hospitalized as a result of health complications coming from a condition called PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). A direct result of the ongoing war waged on our Move Family by this government (we’ve lost 24 members to date). Two died in prison under suspicious circumstances termed “cancer.” Now Ramona is diagnosed with “cancer” and she’s again battling to be a survivor.

Ramona needs funds for a hospital bed, therapy to be able to walk again, skilled nursing full-time care and many other health needs. Please donate to her Go Fund Me page at https://www.gofundme.com/helpsaveramonaafrica.  Please share this information widely.

If there’s any questions or concerns people want to address please contact Alberta Africa or Sue Africa at these numbers: (215) 387-4107 or helpramonaafrica@gmail.com.

On The Move Long, Live John Africa!

Our much beloved Ramona Africa
Ramona Africa in hospital

A siege. A bomb. 48 dogs. And the black commune that would not surrender.

Major sympathetic interview with imprisoned MOVE members

July 31, 2018
The Guardian
By Ed Pilkington

Black Power Behind Bars

Forty years ago, Philadelphia erupted in one of the most dramatic shoot-outs of the black liberation struggle.  tells the surreal story of the Move 9 – and what happened to them next. Read more.

MOVE: Over four decades of resistance

By Ted Kelly
July 30, 2018
Reprinted from International Action Center website

MOVE 9 40 Year Commemoration

Earlier this summer, Philadelphia was in a state of celebration when political prisoner Debbie Africa was released after nearly four decades in prison. In August, prison abolitionists, in Philadelphia and across the world, will observe an anniversary with more solemnity than rejoicing.

August 8, 2018, marks the 40th anniversary of the city’s first major assault on the MOVE family, an episode that ended in the death of one of the family’s infants and in the arrest and imprisonment of nine MOVE family members.

To commemorate this anniversary, a three-part event will be held on Aug. 5. At 10 a.m., there will be a 5k run and walk that starts in Fairmount Park and goes to the original MOVE house in the city’s Powelton Village neighborhood. Then, at 3 p.m., there will be a public forum at Mastery Shoemaker High School on what today’s movements should learn from MOVE’s struggle. Following that forum will be a live concert at 5 p.m. featuring local artists Seraiah Nicole, Mic Africa, Raw Life Crew and more.

Free the MOVE 9

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

Michael Africa Sr., one of the MOVE 9, has a new parole hearing this September. Despite the fact that Janet and Janine Africa were also up for parole at the same time as Debbie, she remains the only member of the MOVE 9 to be released. Debbie was imprisoned in 1978 along with her partner Mike Sr., as well as Delbert, Phil, Janet, Janine, Eddie, Merle and Chuck Africa.

All nine were convicted of the murder of a Philadelphia police officer who died from being struck by one of his fellow officers’ bullets in the hail of gunfire the police blasted into the MOVE home. Despite forensic evidence and scores of eyewitnesses indicating the officer was slain by “friendly fire,” all nine of the arrested MOVE members were convicted of firing the single bullet that killed him.

Immediately after the police assault on the MOVE family, the city bulldozed and destroyed the house, annihilating any and all evidence that could have been used to help exonerate the MOVE 9. The demolition also erased all evidence of the police siege on the compound and the massive structural damage done to the house by police water cannons, chemical gas and thousands of rounds of ammunition fired into the home.

Despite all this, even the city had to acknowledge that of the few weapons that were recovered from the MOVE family home, none of them were operable. That is to say, the MOVE 9 had no way of shooting anyone. Yet each of the MOVE 9 were sentenced to 30 to 100 years in prison.

Judge Edwin Malmed, who handed down the bogus convictions, was asked by then reporter Mumia Abu-Jamal how it could be considered a just decision that nine people were convicted of firing a single bullet. Malmed replied that since the nine wanted to be tried as a family, he convicted them as a family.

A history of oppression — and resistance

The Philadelphia police assault on the MOVE family on Aug. 8, 1978, was a clear escalation of violence, brutality and injustice. But the war on the Philadelphia Black Liberation movement had been raging for at least a decade before. The generalissimo who prosecuted that war was Frank Rizzo, the white supremacist police commissioner turned mayor.

A major attack on Black Liberation began in August 1970 when police raided the Philadelphia Black Panther headquarters. Dozens of Panthers were publicly stripped naked on Columbia Avenue before their arrest. In that era of Cointelpro infiltration, intimidation and assassination, the Philadelphia chapter of the Black Panthers was just one of many to go underground or be destroyed outright.

The MOVE Organization, led by the visionary John Africa, is what filled the vacuum left by the Panthers in Philadelphia. With an ideology that combined an uncompromising dedication to Black Liberation with an unprecedented commitment to environmental justice and animal rights, MOVE became a revolutionary force to be reckoned with.

In a recent interview in Workers World, Debbie Africa explained: “[My brothers] got involved in MOVE activities, in speaking engagements — at the time they were in full throttle speaking out against injustice. They loved it, taking care of the dogs and going to study sessions that MOVE founder John Africa held, educating people how to avoid violence in their communities and on police brutality — the things that made people’s lives miserable.”

She added: “John Africa’s teachings really lock you into the reality of what’s really going on. The rest is history.”

For years, the city attempted to lock up members of the MOVE Organization. But John, and later Ramona, Africa’s remarkable legal astuteness meant they often escaped serious charges. That changed in 1978 when weeks of a siege on the MOVE house culminated in the Aug. 8 assault and the imprisonment of the MOVE 9.

Three years later, Black Panther journalist and MOVE supporter Mumia Abu-Jamal was also framed for the murder of a Philadelphia cop. A key witness to that incident was found dead under mysterious circumstances on May 13, 1985 — the same night that Philadelphia police dropped a bomb on the new MOVE house on Osage Avenue, killing eleven people, including founder John Africa and five children.

In the years since the 1978 assault and the 1985 state murders, the MOVE family has flourished and grown, despite mainstream media accounts to the contrary. Still, the city’s oppression has taken its toll. Mumia Abu-Jamal and six of the MOVE 9 are still in prison after 40 years. Merle and Phil Africa were murdered by the prison system — they died under lock and key.

This fortieth anniversary must mark not just four decades of resistance, but also a new chapter in that struggle.

Free the MOVE 9! Free Mumia Abu-Jamal! Free ‘em all!

FRAMED IN AMERICA: THE MAKING OF POLITICAL PRISONERS

Free the MOVE 9 - 40 Years Too Long!Sat., February 24, 2018,
The National Black Theatre,
2031 5th Avenue (corner 125th St.),
Harlem, NY  10035

Join:
Ramona Africa, Fred Hampton Jr., Pam Africa, Roger Wareham, Betty Davis, Ralph Poynter, Johanna Fernandez
As They Rally For Parole For Move Political Prisoners in 2018

Program: 5 – 8 pm
Dinner on sale: 4 pm
Vendors Village: 4 pm

For Program and Vending Reservations call (347) 641-2773 or go to OnaMove.com

Event live streaming at PictureTheStruggle.org

FREE THE MOVE 9!

For more info contact  (215) 386-1165 and onamovellja@aol.com

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

Report Back: Updates on MOVE and Mumia Abu-Jamal

MOVE Family and Friends at MOVE Conference on May 7, 2017

** Click for larger version **

Thursday, June 1, 2017,
6 – 9 pm,
Solidarity Center, 147 W. 24th St., 2nd Fl.,
New York, NY 10011 – See map.

Presenting: Pam Africa – Ramona Africa – Bob Boyle, Esq. – Rachel Wolkenstein, Esq.
MC: Suzanne Ross

Event free. Light supper available at low cost at 6 pm.
More info call: (212) 633-6646 or (212) 927-2924

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.