[Pnews] MOVE 9 Supporters Make New Push for Parole

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Apr 24 11:49:48 EDT 2018


  MOVE 9 Supporters Make New Push for Parole

By Sam Newhouse - April 24, 2018

On Aug. 8, 1978, a Philadelphia cop was killed while officers were in a 
standoff with the controversial black group MOVE at a Powelton Village 
house. Nine members of MOVE were later convicted of third-degree murder 
and sentenced to life in prison, 30 to 100 years. As new parole hearings 
approach on the 40th anniversary of the standoff, supporters of the 
so-called MOVE 9 (two of whom have died in prison) are renewing calls 
for their release on parole.

Parole hearings are expected to take place in May for the three women of 
the MOVE 9, members Janet, Janine and Debbie Africa, and on Monday, 
their supporters organized a blitz of phone calls, faxes and tweets to 
the state Board of Probation and Parole, calling on them to grant the 
women parole. All of the surviving MOVE 9 members have been eligible for 
parole since 2008, including Eddie, Mike Sr., Delbert and Chuck Africa, 
but they have have been denied parole. (Two members, Phil and Merle 
Africa, died in prison.)

"They've paid their debt. They've paid and then some," said Michael 
Africa, 39, whose parents, Debbie and Michael Africa, both members of 
the MOVE 9, have been incarcerated his entire life. Debbie was pregnant 
when she was arrested, and Michael said he was born in prison. "This 
isn't even dealing with August 8, because they've already paid for that. 
They paid 30 years plus 10 more years than their minimum sentence."

Philadelphia Police Officer James Ramp was killed on Aug. 8 during the 
first MOVE incident. Members of MOVE, which calls itself a black 
liberation group but is also called a cult by some, were heavily armed 
and were in a standoff with police there to evict them from a Powelton 
Village home they had occupied illegally for some time. Several police 
officers and firefighters were injured during a shootout outside the 
house which ended in a surrender by MOVE.

The incident preceded the more infamous May 13, 1985, bombing by police 
of the Cobbs Creek house occupied by other MOVE members including 
founder John Africa. Eleven members inside died, including five 
children, and some 65 houses were burned in a subsequent fire.

During the Powelton Village incident, some observers said they saw 
gunfire from the MOVE compound strike Ramp, while MOVE denied 
responsibility and said he was hit by another shooter or friendly fire. 
But Michael Africa said Ramp's death should not be the main issue anymore.

"We realize that this is a delicate case. They don't really want to be 
so quick to let people who are accused of killing a cop on parole. … But 
the parole board seems to be retrying them, asking them questions about 
the incident that seem to have nothing to do with the years they've 
spent," he said. "It's supposed to be, 'Have you been rehabilitated and 
can you be a member of a society and a productive citizen?' The case has 
nothing to do with it."

All three women of the MOVE 9 are incarcerated at the State Correctional 
Institution in Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania, and are due for parole 
hearings in May. Board of Probation and Parole records for the three 
women show that they have each had multiple parole hearings since 2008, 
when they first became eligible under the 30-to-100-year sentences all 
nine received. All three were denied in 2008 on grounds that included, 
according to the board's decision, "minimization/denial of the nature 
and circumstances of the offense(s) committed," "refusal to accept 
responsibility" and "lack of remorse." At their last hearings in 2016, 
they were denied for the same reasons, as well as for posing a "risk to 
the community."


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