Partisan Defense Committee Letter

10 May 2010

Partisan Defense Committee P.O. Box 99, Canal Street Station, New York, NY 10013


Contact: Kevin Gilroy (212) 406-4252

Free the MOVE Prisoners!

The following May 10 protest letter was sent by the Partisan Defense Committee to Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole chairman Catherine C. McVey.

The Partisan Defense Committee once again joins with those supporting the release of the eight surviving political prisoners who have been collectively known as the MOVE 9. These men and women were victims of racist police brutality. They are innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted and imprisoned for over three decades.

We are outraged by your continued refusal to allow these innocent prisoners to be paroled. As we said in our letter of 6 March 2008, “We are mindful that a common ruse for denying parole for those who have been falsely convicted is the claimed failure to show ‘remorse.’ Having committed no crime, the imprisoned MOVE members have no reason to demonstrate any so-called ‘remorse’.” And yet that is exactly the pretext you consistently have used to turn down the MOVE 9’s parole. In effect you are denying parole for anyone who maintains his or her innocence.

After a year-long siege, on August 8, 1978, an army of nearly 600 police surrounded the MOVE home to evict its defenseless residents. Three months before the attack, MOVE had allowed the police to search their home, resulting in the removal of what were inoperable weapons. The police turned on “deluge guns,” flooding the basement of the house, and then unleashed a furious fusillade so intense that one of their own officers, James Ramp, was killed in the police cross fire.

At least eight witnesses testified that no gunshots came from the MOVE house. Three firemen said they did not know where the gunshots came from and had seen no MOVE members with guns. When weapons supposedly found at the MOVE home were brought to court, none of them had any fingerprints of the defendants on them, and none of the MOVE prisoners were ever charged with illegal weapons possession. After the trial, when presiding judge Edwin Malmed was asked, “Who shot James Ramp?” he replied, “I haven’t the faintest idea.” The MOVE prisoners were convicted of among other charges, conspiracy, a catchall charge used especially to prosecute people for their shared political beliefs when prosecutors are unable to prove that a criminal act was committed.

The denial of parole for the MOVE 9 can only be seen as part and parcel of a decades-long vendetta against MOVE and its supporters. The most grotesque example of this took place 25 years ago in May 1985, when they watched in horror from their Pennsylvania prison cells as the Philadelphia police, in league with federal authorities, dropped a high-powered explosive bomb on MOVE’s Osage Avenue home. This caused the burning to death of eleven people, including five children, and left an entire black neighborhood in smoldering ruins.

It is an injustice that these men and women were ever incarcerated at all. They are innocent survivors of premeditated police assaults. We call once more for the immediate, unconditional release of Debbie Africa, Janine Africa, Janet Africa, Chuck Africa, Eddie Africa, Phil Africa, Delbert Africa and Mike Africa.