7 February 2020

MOVE Member Delbert Africa Paroled After 41 Years

On January 18, Delbert Orr Africa was finally released from prison. Along with the rest of the MOVE 9, Delbert was framed up for the killing of a police officer during a massive cop assault on MOVE’s Powelton Village home in Philadelphia in 1978. Five MOVE members—Janet, Janine, Debbie, Eddie and Mike Africa—have been paroled over the last 18 months. Phil and Merle Africa died in prison under suspicious circumstances. Chuck Africa is the last of the nine still locked up.

All the MOVE 9 were innocent and should never have spent a day in prison! Following a months-long police siege, on 8 August 1978 nearly 600 cops surrounded the MOVE home. As the police unleashed a fusillade, one officer was killed in the cop cross fire. When Delbert Africa emerged from the house unarmed and with hands raised, cops smashed him across the face with a police helmet and proceeded to drag, kick, punch and stomp him nearly to death. Television news cameras captured this savage cop attack. The MOVE 9 were each sentenced to 30 to 100 years even though the judge admitted that he had no idea who fired the fatal shot, and witnesses testified that no shots had come from the house.

Delbert had been in police crosshairs since he was a Black Panther Party member in Chicago in his youth. After the cop assassination of leading Panther Fred Hampton in 1969, many of Hampton’s Chicago comrades were hit with false warrants. Delbert fled to Canada and then moved to Philadelphia, where he soon found a home with MOVE, a mainly black back-to-nature commune.

The capitalist state’s vendetta against MOVE culminated in the bombing of their home on Osage Avenue in May 1985, killing eleven MOVE members, five of them children. The police and city government under Democratic mayor Goode carried out this racist atrocity in collaboration with the FBI. One of the victims was Delbert’s 13-year-old daughter, Delisha. Ramona Africa, the sole adult survivor, was imprisoned for seven years for having survived this attack.

Delbert spent six years of his incarceration in the hole for refusing to cut his hair. After years of beatings and neglect, his health deteriorated to a critical point last year. When asked about his health shortly after his release, Delbert said that he is “doing better every day that I’m on the outside.” He is now reunited with his daughter Yvonne, who is helping him through his health problems.

Those attending the Partisan Defense Committee’s January 25 Holiday Appeal event in New York City, a fundraiser for the PDC’s Class-War Prisoner Stipend Fund, were happy to hear in person from Debbie and Mike Africa and from Delbert by telephone. Imprisoned MOVE members were among the earliest recipients of the PDC’s monthly stipends. Delbert thanked the PDC for years of support and urged those in attendance “to keep on pushing. We got one more, that’s Chuck Africa.... Then after that, it’s Mumia Abu-Jamal and all other political prisoners that are being held by this damn system.”

Mumia is also a former Panther, and as a radical journalist covering the trial of the MOVE 9, he became a supporter of that organization. Convicted on false charges of killing a cop in 1981, Mumia was on death row for 30 years. He is now serving the slow death of life without parole. Free Chuck Africa and Mumia Abu-Jamal now!

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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1169, 7 February 2020)

Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.