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