[Pnews] Press Conference with Political prisoner Delbert Africa freed after 42 years

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jan 30 15:15:55 EST 2020


  Political prisoner Delbert Africa freed after 42 years


By Michael Z. Muhammad <http://www.twitter.com/mzmuhammad1> | Jan 29, 2020


Yvonne Orr El, the daughter of Delbert Africa, listens while her father 
speaks. On the far right is Ramona Africa.

PHILADELPHIA—Delbert Africa, 73, is free after 42 long years in prison 
convicted of standing on principle. The MOVE Minister of Confrontation 
and Security was among nine MOVE members unjustly convicted of 
3rd-degree murder after the brutal August 8, 1978 police attack on the 
MOVE house in the Powelton Village section of Philadelphia that resulted 
in the death of a police officer. All evidence pointed to the officer 
being shot by the police, argue supporters.

During his first press conference held Jan. 21 since being released on 
Jan. 18, Delbert Africa was dressed in gray, accenting his beard and 
locs detailed for the press and those in attendance. He displayed a 
bright smile, exuding extraordinary and unapologetic dignity. The press 
conference was held at the King-sessing Library.

The MOVE organization, for many, is the poster child for the corruption 
and unequal justice perpetrated by America’s criminal justice system on 
Black and poor people. Delbert Africa was the Rodney King before Rodney 
King was beaten unmercifully by L.A. police. Similarly, Delbert Africa 
was beaten following the climax of the 1978 confrontation between MOVE 
and police.

“It was regarded as one of the worst instances of police brutality ever 
caught on tape. I recovered right after they stopped; I was getting 
better,” said Delbert Africa. “It’s hard to describe it, that when they 
originally started beating me from the first cop in front of me hitting 
me with that metal helmet. The other fool put the shotgun stroke on me, 
put the butt stroke with the shotgun on me,” he continued.

“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.”

During the early 1970s, MOVE was characterized by wearing their hair in 
locs and an uncompromising commitment to their beliefs and their teacher 
and founder John Africa. The revolutionary groups’ name is not an 
acronym and was chosen by John Africa to say what they intended to do. 
Members planned to be active because they say, “Everything that’s alive 
moves. If it didn’t, it would be stagnant, dead.” When members greet 
each other, they say, “Onna MOVE.” The group organized in 1972. It’s 
philosophy deals with revolutionary ideas, proper health, and well-being 
and the right to life for all living creatures. From the beginning, MOVE 
was in conflict with the system and police resulting in several clashes.

The 1978 blockade at the group’s headquarters by law enforcement lasted 
two months and culminated in the August police assault on their facility 
resulting in the brutal beating of Delbert Africa and death of police 
officer James Ramp. Nine MOVE members received sentences from 30 to 100 
years and became known as the MOVE 9.

During the press conference, Delbert Africa pointed out how the system 
manipulates the minds of its citizens when it comes to organizations 
that are revolutionary and pose a threat to the status quo. The negative 
picture painted to the public of MOVE and the teachings of John Africa 
allowed for the brutality and mistreatment.

Former community members were present at the press conference, and each 
detailed what an asset the organization was to the community. MOVE had 
an affinity for caring for stray and abandoned animals. They were 
uncompromising when it came to fighting injustice no matter what form it 
took, those that spoke pointed out. Delbert Africa reflected that one 
neighbor tried to give him a fully-grown lion, which he had as a pet and 
could no longer provide care. Delbert Africa said he declined.

Other members of the MOVE 9, Janine Africa, Janet Africa, and Eddie 
Africa were freed from prison in 2019. Mike Africa, Sr. and his wife 
Debbie Africa were released in 2018. Merle Africa died in prison in 
March 1998, and Phil Africa died in prison in January 2015. Chuck Africa 
is the remaining MOVE 9 member still incarcerated.

Also at the press conference was Walter Palmer, founder and director of 
the Palmer Foundation and creator of the Black People’s University of 
Philadelphia. Mr. Palmer, who served as a principal negotiator for MOVE 
during the 1978 standoff, said he was on the front porch when the 
gunfire from police erupted. He observed the slain officer standing on 
the side and said that MOVE members were not in a position to have fired 
on the officer.

“This crime was not the crime of MOVE. It was a crime of the state,” Mr. 
Palmer said during the news conference. “For 40 years, these people 
spent their life in jail for a crime they did not commit.”

Also present was Fred Hampton Jr., son of Chicago-based Black Panther 
leader Fred Hampton who was killed in 1969 along with Mark Clark during 
an early morning police raid. Mr. Hampton, Jr., frequently tried to 
visit Delbert Africa in prison but was denied.

“I’m humbled to be here for this moment to see him living free,” Mr. 
Hampton said. “The MOVE members served all this time for a killing that 
no one believes they committed. I came from Chicago because brother 
Delbert is a hero.”

Other members on the dais included MOVE members Pam Africa, Ramona 
Africa, Consuella Africa, Carlos Africa, and Yvonne Orr El, daughter of 
Delbert Africa.

Delbert Africa told The Final Call that he has yet to receive 
restrictions from the parole board but expects they are coming. As for 
plans, he intends to stay “Onna MOVE.”

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/
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