[Pnews] Out of prison after 41 years, MOVE member Delbert Africa denounces ‘unjust’ criminal justice system

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jan 22 12:29:13 EST 2020


  https://www.inquirer.com/news/delbert-orr-africa-move-philadelphia-police-officer-murder-paroled--20200121.html


  Out of prison after 41 years, MOVE member Delbert Africa rails against
  ‘unjust’ criminal justice system

by Mensah M. Dean <https://www.inquirer.com/author/dean_mensah_m/>, 
Updated: January 21, 2020
Out of prison after 41 years, MOVE member Delbert Africa rails against 
‘unjust’ criminal justice system
LAUREN SCHNEIDERMAN / Staff Photographer

Delbert Africa, a longtime member of MOVE, is unrepentant about his part 
in the 1978 Powelton Village confrontation between the group and 
Philadelphia police that left an officer dead and sent him to prison for 
more than 40 years.

“Nothing could have been done differently to stop and curtail that 
assault by the police on us. It wouldn’t have stopped,” Africa, 73, said 
Tuesday in his first Philadelphia interview since being paroled from 
state prison on Saturday.

One of nine MOVE members imprisoned for the 1978 incident, Africa said 
he is looking forward to reuniting with the surviving MOVE members who 
were previously paroled, to continue the work of challenging what he 
called an unjust criminal justice system. The fact that the city has had 
African American police commissioners during his time in prison has no 
bearing on the inequity in the system, he said.

Move member Delbert Africa, who was paroled from state prison after 
nearly 42 years, held a news conference with other members of the MOVE 
family at the Kingsessing Library in West Philadelphia.
LAUREN SCHNEIDERMAN / Staff Photographer
Move member Delbert Africa, who was paroled from state prison after 
nearly 42 years, held a news conference with other members of the MOVE 
family at the Kingsessing Library in West Philadelphia.

“I want to keep on pushing the whole front of fighting this unjust 
system. I want to keep on pushing it and do as much as I can in my time 
here as dictated by the teachings of John Africa. Keep on working, stay 
on the move,” said Africa, who discussed his past and future goals at a 
news conference Tuesday at the Kingsessing Branch Library in West 
Philadelphia.

At the gathering, Africa, his face framed by gray frayed dreadlocks and 
facial hair, received a hero’s welcome from MOVE members and supporters 
who listened in rapt attention as he recalled the August confrontation 
with police, and recounted how he was cursed at and badly beaten by 
officers after he surrendered.

“I’m unconscious, and that’s when one cop pulled me by the hair across 
the street, one cop started jumping on my head, one started kicking me 
in the ribs and beating me," he said. “Their excuse later on is they 
thought I was armed. I was naked from the waist up.”

MOVE has always maintained that the bullet that killed Ramp was 
accidentally fired by police.

By 1980, the group had relocated to the 6200 block of Osage Avenue. 
Neighbors began to complain to the city about trash, loudspeaker rants, 
and concerns about child abuse and neglect in MOVE’s house.

Delbert Africa (center) glares at deputies as he and Chuckie Africa 
leave court at City Hall during their 1979 trial for the murder of 
Officer James Ramp. Nine MOVE members were convicted.
PRENTICE COLE/Daily News
Delbert Africa (center) glares at deputies as he and Chuckie Africa 
leave court at City Hall during their 1979 trial for the murder of 
Officer James Ramp. Nine MOVE members were convicted.

On May 13, 1985, the city flew a helicopter over the group’s home and 
dropped the bomb that left 11 people dead, including John Africa, as 
well as Delbert Africa’s 13-year-old daughter. The neighborhood was in 
ruins, with 61 homes destroyed. City officials were found to have acted 
recklessly, but no charges were filed.

Delbert Africa was among nine MOVE members convicted of third-degree 
murder for Ramp’s death.

Janine, Janet, and Eddie Africa were released from prison in 2019. Mike 
Africa Sr. and his wife, Debbie, were released in 2018. Merle Africa 
died in prison in March 1998 and Phil Africa died in prison in January 
2015. Chuck Africa remains imprisoned.

by Mensah M. Dean
<https://www.inquirer.com/author/dean_mensah_m/>
Posted: January 21, 2020 - 1:23 PM
Mensah M. Dean <https://www.inquirer.com/author/dean_mensah_m/> | 
@mensahdean <https://twitter.com/mensahdean> | mdean at inquirer.com 
<mailto:mdean at inquirer.com>

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