[Pnews] MOVE 9 Member Mike Africa Released on Parole After 40 Years in Prison
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Oct 23 12:41:53 EDT 2018
MOVE 9 Member Mike Africa Released on Parole After 40 Years in Prison
October 23, 2018
Earlier today, MOVE member Mike Africa was released from prison after 40
years of incarceration. Mike was released on parole from SCI Phoenix in
Skippak Township this morning.
Mike was imprisoned since August 8, 1978, following an altercation
between the Philadelphia police and the MOVE Organization. Mike is one
of 9 MOVE members, collectively known as the “MOVE 9,” who were
convicted and sentenced to 30-100 years in prison following the altercation.
Mike’s wife Debbie Africa
was also one of the MOVE 9. Debbie was eight months pregnant at the time
of the incident and gave birth in jail to their son, Mike Africa Jr.
Mike Sr. has been incarcerated for his son’s entire life and today was
the first opportunity for the father and son to spend time together
outside of prison.
Mike Sr. and his wife Debbie maintained their relationship despite both
being in incarcerated and separated from one other for 40 years. In June
of this year, Debbie became the first member of the MOVE 9 to be
released from prison. Today marks the first time that Mike Sr., Debbie
and their son Mike Jr. have ever spent time all together.
“After being born in jail and never being with my parents, I’m happy to
be with my mom and dad at home for the first time ever in forty years,”
said Mike Africa, Jr. He continued “But this struggle isn’t over. There
are still MOVE members behind bars who deserve to be reunited with their
families and loved ones, just like my mom and dad can now be with me and
the rest of their family.”
Mike Sr. has been eligible for parole since 2008 and went before the
Pennsylvania Board or Probation and Parole (PBPP) for the tenth time in
September of this year. Mike’s legal team submitted a packet in support
of his parole petition, detailing Mike’s exemplary prison record, his
educational accomplishments in prison and over 75 letters in support of
parole. These included letters from religious leaders, retired DOC staff
who knew him personally and former prisoners who described the positive
influence Mike had on them. Mike also received recommendations for
parole from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC),
Corrections expert and former DOC Secretary Martin Horn, and the
Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.
One of Mike’s lawyers, Brad Thomson, of the Chicago-based People’s Law
Office, said, “Mike’s record in prison was exceptional and demonstrated
that he was an excellent candidate for parole. With this decision, the
Parole Board recognizes that Mike, like Debbie, and the rest of the MOVE
9, poses absolutely no threat to the community.” Thomson went on to say,
“This victory would not have been possible without the decades of
organizing and advocacy spearheaded by the MOVE organization and their
Bret Grote, of Abolitionist Law Center, another lawyer for the MOVE 9,
stated, “This historic release of Mike Africa renders the Parole Board’s
decision to deny the rest of the MOVE 9 all the more incomprehensible.
For example, Janet and Janine Africa
have both maintained DOC records that are as exemplary as Mike’s and
essentially identical to that of Debbie, yet they were inexplicably
denied parole this past May.” Grote and Thomson recently filed petitions
for habeas corpus on behalf of Janet and Janine in federal court,
challenging their parole denials.
In addition to Janet and Janine, three other members of the MOVE 9
remain incarcerated, as two (Merle Africa and Phil Africa) died in
custody. All five surviving members of the MOVE 9 (Janet, Janine, Chuck,
Eddie and Delbert Africa) have been eligible for parole since 2008 and
have been repeatedly denied parole when appearing before the PBPP.
During the August 8, 1978 altercation, a Philadelphia police officer was
killed and following a highly politicized and controversial trial, the
MOVE 9 were convicted of third-degree homicide. All nine were sentenced
to 30-100 years in prison.
Brad Thomson, bradjaythomson[at]gmail.com
<mailto:bradjaythomson at gmail.com> ,773-297-9689
Mike Africa Jr., MikeAfricaJr at gmail.com,
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
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