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MOVE - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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This article is about the organization MOVE. For other uses, see Move (disambiguation).

MOVE or the MOVE Organization (though the name is not an acronym, it is spelled by followers in capital letters) is a Philadelphia-based black liberation group founded by charismatic leader John Africa. MOVE was described by CNN as "a loose-knit, mostly black group whose members all adopted the surname Africa, advocated a "back-to-nature" lifestyle and preached against technology."[1] It has had notable confrontations with the Philadelphia Police Department in 1978 and later in 1985. During the latter event, the Philadelphia Police dropped a bomb on MOVE headquarters, resulting in multiple deaths of MOVE members including children.[2] On the 25th Anniversary of the confrontation, the Philadelphia Inquirer created a detailed multimedia site containing retrospective articles, archived articles, videos, interviews, photos, and a timeline of the events.[3]



[edit] History

[edit] Origins and belief system

MOVE was founded in 1972 as the Christian Movement for Life by John Africa, a charismatic leader who, though functionally illiterate, dictated a document describing his views known as The Guideline to graduate student Donald Glassey. Africa and his followers (the majority of them African-American), wore their hair in dreadlocks and advocated a radical form of green politics and a return to hunter-gatherer society while stating their opposition to science, medicine and technology[citation needed]. As John Africa himself had done, his devotees also changed their surnames to show reverence to Africa, which they regarded as their mother continent.

[edit] Activities prior to 1978

The MOVE members lived in a commune in a house owned by Donald Glassey in the Powelton Village section of West Philadelphia. MOVE members staged bullhorn-amplified, profanity-laced demonstrations against institutions which they opposed morally, such as zoos (MOVE having strong views on animal rights), and speakers whose views they opposed. MOVE made compost piles of garbage and human waste in their yards which attracted rats and cockroaches; they considered it morally wrong to kill the vermin with pest control.[citation needed] MOVE attracted much hostility from their neighbors. Their actions brought close scrutiny from the Philadelphia police.[citation needed]

[edit] 1978 shoot-out

In 1978, an end was negotiated to an almost year-long standoff with police over orders to vacate the Powelton Village MOVE house. MOVE failed to relocate as required by a court order.[4] When police later attempted entry, Philadelphia police officer James J. Ramp was killed in a shootout. Seven other police officers, five firefighters, three MOVE members, and three bystanders were injured.[5] As a result, nine MOVE members were found guilty of third-degree murder in the shooting death of a police officer. Seven of the nine became eligible for parole in the spring of 2008, and all seven were denied parole.[6][7] Parole hearings now occur yearly.

[edit] 1985 bombing

In 1981, MOVE relocated to a row house at 6221 Osage Avenue in the Cobbs Creek area of West Philadephia. On May 13, 1985, responding to months of complaints by neighbors that MOVE members broadcast political messages by bullhorn at all hours and also about the health hazards posed by of the piles of compost, the police department attempted to clear the building.[8] After a standoff, police lobbed tear gas canisters at the building and the fire department battered the roof of the house with two water cannons. A burst of gunfire came from the house, touching off a return volley of thousands of rounds from police lasting 90 minutes. The police tried to remove two wood-and-steel rooftop structures, called bunkers by the police, by dropping a four-pound bomb made of C-4 plastic explosive and Tovex, a dynamite substitute, onto the roof.[9] The resulting explosion caused the house to catch fire, igniting a massive blaze which eventually consumed almost an entire city block.[10] Eleven people, including John Africa, five other adults and five children, died in the resulting fire.[11] The resulting fire was unable to be put out due to the fact that firefighters were being shot at. Ramona Africa and one child, Birdie Africa, were the only survivors.

Mayor W. Wilson Goode soon appointed an investigative commission called the PSIC or MOVE commission. It issued its report on March 6, 1986. The report denounced the actions of the city government, stating that "Dropping a bomb on an occupied row house was unconscionable."[12]

In a 1996 civil suit in U.S. federal court, a jury ordered the City of Philadelphia to pay $1.5 million to a survivor and relatives of two people killed in the incident. The jury found that the city used excessive force and violated the members' constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure.[11]

[edit] 2002 murder of John Gilbride

Subsequent to the death of John Africa, his widow, Alberta, married John Gilbride Jr, and had a child, Zackary Africa, circa 1996. The couple divorced in 1999. Following a custody battle, a court ruling granted Gilbride partial custody of Zachary which allow him unsupervised visits with his son. Gilbride moved to Maple Shade, NJ. Prior to his first visitation date with Zackary, an unknown assailant shot Gilbride dead by automatic weapon fire as he sat in his car shortly after midnight on September 27 while parked outside his home in an execution-style slaying. The case remains, to date, unsolved. MOVE initially conjectured that the US government had assassinated Gilbride in order to frame MOVE. Alberta Africa, who initially acknowledged the murder, claimed in 2009 that Gilbride "is out hiding somewhere".[13]

[edit] Present activities

Ramona Africa acts as a spokesperson for the group and has given numerous talks at leftist events throughout the US and in other countries. MOVE continues to advocate for the release of jailed MOVE sympathizer and former resident of Philadelphia, Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted of the 1981 murder of police officer Daniel Faulkner. MOVE has also called for the release of MOVE members behind bars, who the group considers political prisoners.

[edit] References in music

[edit] List

[edit] Notes

"The Roof is not on Fire" by Kock Master Scott & the Dynamic Three is sometimes assumed to have been inspired by this incident. In fact, the single predated the MOVE bombing by a year. The song was, however, played during the ensuing protests near the site of the bombing.[citation needed]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Philadelphia, city officials ordered to pay $1.5 million in MOVE case; 1996-06-24; CNN.
  2. ^ Brian Jenkins (April 2, 1996). "MOVE siege returns to haunt city". Retrieved 2008-08-01. 
  3. ^ "MOVE 25 years later". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2010-05-09. 
  4. ^ "Nose to Nose: Philadelphia confronts a cult". TIME magazine. August 14, 1978.,9171,946962,00.html. Retrieved 2007-05-20. 
  5. ^ "Surrender Immediately". TIME magazine Nine members of the organization were sentenced to a minimum of thirty years for third degree murder. August 21, 1978.,9171,919800,00.html. Retrieved 2007-05-20. 
  6. ^ Emilie Lounsberry (February 28, 2008). "MOVE members due for parole hearing". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2008-03-05. 
  7. ^ Lounsberry, Emilie (June 5, 2008), "MOVE members denied parole", The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper: B06 .
  8. ^ Account of 1985 incident from USA Today.
  9. ^ Brian Jenkins (April 2, 1996). "MOVE siege returns to haunt city". Retrieved 2008-08-01. 
  10. ^ Frank Trippett (May 27, 1985). "It Looks Just Like a War Zone". TIME magazine.,9171,956982,00.html. Retrieved 2009-02-15. "The Move property on Osage Avenue had become notorious for its abundant litter of garbage and human waste and for its scurrying rats and dozens of dogs. Bullhorns blared forth obscene tirades and harangues at all times of day and night. Move members customarily kept their children out of both clothes and school. They physically assaulted some neighbors and threatened others." 
  11. ^ a b "Philadelphia Held Liable For Firebomb Fatal to 11". The New York Times. 1996-06-25. 
  12. ^ "Philadelphia Special Investigation (MOVE) Commission Manuscript Collection". Retrieved 2008-04-12. 
  13. ^ September 26, 2009, Nark, Jason, "Slaying of ex-MOVEr still roils feelings 7 years later"

[edit] Further reading

  • Robin Wagner-Pacifici, Discourse and Destruction: The City of Philadelphia versus MOVE (1994) University of Chicago Press
  • Johanna Saleh Dickson; Move: Sites of Trauma (Pamphlet Architecture 23) (2002) Princeton: Architectural Press
  • Toni Cade Bambara The Bombing of Osage Avenue Philadelphia: WHYY. DVD OCLC 95315483
  • Margot Harry, Attention Move! This is America (1987) Chicago: Banner Press, ISBN 0916650324
  • Michael Boyette & Randi Boyette, Let it Burn! (1989) Chicago: Contemporary Press, ISBN 0809245434
  • Ramona Africa (Contr. Author). "This Country Must Change: Essays on the Necessity of Revolution in the USA" (Arissa Media Group, 2009) ISBN 9780974288475

[edit] External links

[edit] Pro-MOVE

[edit] Anti-MOVE

[edit] News media

[edit] Primary sources

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