They were charged as a nine-person unit with the murder of the police officer who died in the melee, James Ramp. He spoke rapidly and intensely, as though he needed to get it all out, relating how he had joined the Black Panther party in Chicago and then switched to the Move organisation after relocating to Philadelphia. “I had nothing to do with killing a cop in 1978. Move were scum and cowards, hiding as they shot. Incarcerated since 1972 and now 77 years old, Maroon is serving multiple life sentences in Pennsylvania as … The toxic, unsanitary conditions in prisons mean that the continued imprisonment of Russell Maroon Shoatz and other human beings is an atrocity. Several commentators, some of whom vividly recalled the 1978 siege, sent blessings to the deceased police officer and his family. A Black Panther Party member and soldier in the Black Liberation Army, Shoatz was falsely accused of killing a cop in the Cobbs Creek area of Philadelphia in 1970. The camera pans in on him as he lies on the street after he was hit with the police helmet. “There were no windows, just a section of the wall with frosted panes. Each was sentenced to 30 years to life, though to this day they protest their innocence. Whatever their tactic, it isn’t working!”, Debbie’s release also made a profound impact on Del Africa. They each agreed to embark on an ongoing conversation with me about their political beliefs today and their battle to secure their own freedom. In a system of mass incarceration that reportedly holds 2.5 million people in cages on any given day, over 275,000 U.S. prisoners are reported to have contracted COVID-19. I reported to the guards. “I keep expecting her to walk in from work. In 1976, Philadelphia police officers turned up at the Move house in Powelton Village having been called out to a disturbance. What year was the Black Panther party founded? Del Africa, 72, and I talked for three hours in the prison visitors’ room. An African American man, his hair in dreadlocks, chest bare, stands with arms outstretched as though emulating Jesus on the cross. Ed Pilkington tells the surreal story of the Move 9 – and what happened to them next, Tue 31 Jul 2018 09.00 BST Copyright © 2020 Workers World. They snuck her out at 5.00 in the morning. While the number of Black liberation leaders locked up since the heyday of the Black Panthers is dwindling—with the surviving seven members of the Move 9 in Philadelphia having all been released on parole in the past two years—many, such as Edward Poindexter, who marked his fiftieth year in prison this August, still remain. “Joe-Joe” Bowen is a Black Liberation Army (BLA) Prisoner of War, serving two life sentences for the assassination of a prison warden and deputy warden, as well as an attempted prison break which resulted in a five-day standoff after his initial arrest.. While serving a life sentence for the murder she escaped from prison in 1979. The black man is Delbert Orr Africa, Del for short. When the 1978 siege happened, there were 12 adults and 11 children in the Move house in Powelton Village – and 48 dogs. They liked to project their revolutionary message at high volume from a bullhorn at all hours of night and day. The former Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army member was convicted of murdering a cop in Pennsylvania and sentenced to life imprisonment. Would he show remorse to the parole board if he felt it would secure his release? Subscribers should have received a printed paper in September and October. “No, never going to do that,” he said. As they approach the 40th anniversary of the siege and of their subsequent captivity, Del and Janine Africa described to me how they’ve coped for so long doing time for a crime they insist they did not commit. A Black Panther Party member and soldier in the Black Liberation Army, Shoatz was falsely accused of killing a cop in the Cobbs Creek area of Philadelphia in 1970. “There was no shooting from our side,” he told me. In the case of Move members, their politics are a strange fusion of black power and flower power. Move members were battered by water cannon as they took refuge in the basement of the building. Yet he too was turned down for parole last year and must wait another four years before his next chance to convince the parole board that he can safely be returned to society. Next, Del Africa appears, his hands outstretched in that Jesus pose. “A cop hit me with his helmet,” he said. Janine Africa can be heard in the police footage screaming. Assata Shakur is a former member of the Black Liberation Army. Throughout, the Move prisoners have drawn strength from companionship with other members of the nine. He stayed in the hole for six years. That was remarkable in itself coming from a woman who is not only approaching the 40th anniversary of her incarceration but has had two of her children killed in confrontations with police. His 13-year-old daughter Delisha was also living in the Move house. “We demonstrated against puppy mills, zoos, circuses, any form of enslavement of animals. Prosecutors accused the Move 9 of collaboratively killing Ramp, even though he died from one bullet. Abu-Jamal has also suffered with cirrhosis of the liver, various skin rashes, cataracts and other issues. But it was the Black Liberation Army, known as the BLA and a violent offshoot of the Black Panther Party, that posed the greatest threat to police. Other names. Months before the siege Move members made visible their threat to resist attempts to remove them from the neighborhood – they stood on a platform they had built at the front of the house dressed in fatigues and brandishing rifles. Many of them remain strikingly passionate about the cause, even as they strive for release in some cases half a century into their sentences. In the 1960s and 70s, the political police force known as the Federal Bureau of Investigation identified the Black liberation struggle and the Black Panther Party as the greatest domestic threat to the U.S. empire, as well as targeting the American Indian Movement and those it identified as its leaders. At 8.15am shots rang out and a thunderstorm of gunfire erupted that is captured on police footage of the incident. Questions such as: when was the Brown v Board of Education ruling in the US supreme court? Joseph was a member of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army. Chevy misses her, he keeps sniffing her bed.”. As the 40th anniversary approaches, six of the Move 9 are still behind bars, Del Africa included. It looked like a war zone. They said the shooting had been started when gunfire erupted from the basement where the Move members were gathered, a theory supported by some eyewitnesses. Shoatz described conditions in the prison COVID unit in a recent phone conversation. This is an even more urgent truth during the coronavirus pandemic. The Black Liberation Army was a violent, radical group that attempted to fight for independence from the United States government in the late 1960's and early 1970's. “No one in the house had any gunshot residue, none of us had fingerprints on any of the weapons they claim came out of the house.”. You might characterise them as black liberationists-cum-eco warriors. “I’m supposed to be in a single cell. I will not give in.’”. But imprisonment itself is a form of execution, a cruel and torturous and gradual method. Everyone says they can’t do nothin’ about it. We recommend that subscribers with internet access get our free email subscription and share our articles with your contacts and on social media. African liberation movement. And they got one toilet. The arc of an emancipatory progression which ends in either equality, liberation, or redress, in other words, a narrative of liberation, is marked by the three generic In June, the first of the nine to win parole, Debbie Africa, was released from a Pennsylvania women’s prison. We only got to hug her briefly and watch her leave. Unlike the Black Panther party which formally dissolved in 1982, Move is still a living entity. I felt, and still do feel so badly for your family. We have continued publishing articles on workers.org, along with a weekly PDF of what would have been the printed version. “I wanted to strike out. While Debbie was set free, both Janine and Janet had their parole denied. … I can’t be sick, messin’ on myself. The board asked Janine whether she would be a risk to the public were she to be let out, and she referred them to her pristine prison record: the last time she had any disciplinary rap was 26 years ago. At about 6am on 8 August 1978 the action started. They are the ones who were wrong.”, Available for everyone, funded by readers. The BLA continued the struggle by waging urban guerrilla war across the U.S. through highly mobile strike teams. Nationality. But that’s not my concern. “That’s when I put my arms out wide.”. For the women in particular the prosecution did not even argue the four had handled firearms or had been involved in the actual shooting of Ramp. The photograph is one of the standout images of the 1970s black liberation struggle. He ended with the quip: “But, hey, I don’t wanna burn you out the first time I reply to your email.”. They might not. The group that formed in the early 1970s melded the revolutionary ideology of the Black Panthers with the nature- and animal-loving communalism of 1960s hippies. Last modified on Mon 3 Feb 2020 12.47 GMT. They each have their own survival methods. The black liberation group MOVE was founded in 1972 by John Africa (born Vincent Leaphart). “I just cried,” he said during my prison visit. Along with former Black Panthers and Black Liberation Army members, they amount to the unfinished business of the black liberation struggle. The prison authorities let them keep the dog kenneled in their cell as part of a program in which they train the animal for later use as a service dogs for disabled people. Maroon, Russell Maroon Shoatz, The Implacable. Others expressed anger at the lack of justice for Ramp, though they didn’t specify what they meant. Since 1972 — nearly half a century ago — Russell Maroon Shoatz has languished in a prison cell built on stolen land, poisoned and irradiated by the fossil fuel industry. The utter horror and indignity of the situation Shoatz is enduring shocks the conscience. As the smoke rose from 6221 Osage Avenue, Philadelphia residents watched through their windows or television screens in a state of stunned disbelief. He was prosecuted as one of the Panther 21. The Black Liberation Army was an underground Black Power revolutionary organization that operated in the United States from 1970 to 1981. Another cop swung his shotgun and broke my jaw. The unconventional nature of the Move community which drove some neighbors to despair in turn led to demands for their eviction, and ultimately to the fatal siege. “Warm Revolutionary greetings, Ed!”, He then launched into a long deliberation about the “plight of political prisoners here in ameriKKKa!”. Janine’s 12-year-old son, Little Phil, was being cared for in that house by other Move adults while she was in custody. In 1977, she was convicted of the murder of a New Jersey State Trooper in a trial that her supporters argue was unfair. After 48 years of imprisonment, Shoatz, 77, is currently held at SCI Dallas in Luzerne County, Penn. Move members are still imprisoned, he wrote, “just because we steadfastly refused to abandon our Belief in the Revolutionary Teachings of Move’s Founder” and because of “our refusal to bow down to this murderous, racist, sexist rotten-ass system”. Two have died in prison. Africa Sr., like many MOVE members, is an avid athlete who, Mumia Abu-Jamal said, “could run like others walk.” But even the MOVE 9 have experienced life-threatening health problems as the result of decades incarcerated in toxic Pennsylvania prisons. When Move refused to vacate the premises having been issued with an eviction order, Rizzo said he would impose a blockade on the house so tight “even a fly wouldn’t get in”. SPECIALCOLLECTION Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act 519b7f96993294098d512d3c Attachment Size HAZNERS, VILIS VOL. They emphasized the fact that prison conditions always have created illness, even before the new coronavirus was brought in by guards – immediately sweeping through the population of incarcerated workers. That’s ten times the infection rate worldwide. What to do now? And we did so uncompromisingly. Every prisoner mentioned here is a Black political activist framed by the Philadelphia Police Department during or immediately after the tenure of Mayor Frank Rizzo. She was reticent. Who was Dred Scott? All Move members take the last name “Africa” to denote their commitment to race equality and their strong bond to what they regard as their Move “family”. She said of Ramp: “I was so sad to hear of your passing. Passersby were accosted with a torrent of expletives. Have they shown any remorse for what happened to my daughter in 1985?”. Forty years ago, Philadelphia erupted in one of the most dramatic shoot-outs of the black liberation struggle. American. One woman, whose late husband was on duty at both the siege and the 1985 bombing, was more direct. The contrast of Debbie’s release with her denial was “either to make us resent Deb or make me feel hopeless and break us down. Slavery never ended, it was just disguised. “I’m looking at 22 [people] who look like [they’re in] a refugee camp. The group lived in a communal setting in West Philadelphia, abiding by philosophies of anarcho-primitivism. “Her release is a breakthrough! During the final days of the Trump administration, the U.S. federal government has revived the death penalty and is killing federal prisoners at a sickening rate. “How can I have any remorse for something I never did?” he said. The Black Liberation Army was an organization that grew out of the Black Panther Party, composed of former Black Panther Party members, operating from about 1971-1980. They are among a total of 19 black radicals who remain locked up in penitentiaries across America having been convicted of violent acts committed in the name of black power between the late 1960s and early 1980s. In that same letter she said she had turned grief into what she contests is a force for good: deeper commitment to the struggle. Joseph earned his BA from the University of Kansas while at Leavenworth. And they know it. Russell "Maroon" Shoatz (born August 23, 1943) is a convicted murderer, a founding member of the Black Unity Council, a former member of the Black Panther Party, and a "soldier" in the Black Liberation Army. Mumia Abu-Jamal has nearly had his life stolen by the prison-industrial complex many times. Then there were the dogs. She too died in the fire. 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