On May 13, 1985, Philadelphia city leadership and the Philadelphia Police Department carried out an attack on a group of Black radical individuals and families, bombing and killing 11 people – including 5 children. The group was the MOVE organization, founded by John Africa and emphasizes family and our life’s connection to nature – the attack was carried out after years of mounting tensions between the police and MOVE.
Last year was the 30th anniversary of the MOVE bombings, and NPR writer and Philly native Gene Demby described how the MOVE compound was barraged with bullets and blasts by the Philadelphia PD in an attempt to “seize control of the house…by any means possible”. Demby’s account is a must read if you want to learn more about this moment in Black Radical confrontation with the State.
Birdie Africa and Ramona Africa were the only people to have made it out alive, Ramona was arrested and went on to file suit against the city. She was released from jail in 1992.
While MOVE’s tactics as a group were not always agreeable with other Black nationalists and revolutionaries, they still represented an opposition to oppression. City officials and police were threatened by the way of life of this group of armed Black people, so they did what the State does best and forced it’s downfall with violence. Seven years before the bombing, in 1978, police attempted to remove MOVE from their house and in the process of the altercation a police officer died, and as a result nine MOVE members were consequently convicted of third-degree murder and sentenced to 30-100 years in prison. They are known as the MOVE 9.
Here are the names of the MOVE 9 and how you can support them:
Write to the MOVE 9:
Debbie Sims Africa #006307; Janet Hollaway Africa #006308; Janine Phillips Africa #6309
451 Fullerton Ave. Cambridge Springs, PA 16403-1238
William Phillips Africa #AM 4984; Delbert Orr Africa #AM 4985
1000 Follies Rd. Dallas, PA 18612
Michael Davis Africa #AM 4973; Charles Sims Africa #AM 4975
P.O. Box 244 Graterford, PA 19426-0246
Edward Goodman Africa #AM 4974
301 Morea Rd. Frackville, PA. 17932
Merle Africa passed away on March 13 ,1998 while incarcerated at Muncy Correctional Institution.
Sign the petition in support of their parole release
Do your Googles, don’t let their stories of resistance be erased!