The MOVE ORGANIZATION surfaced in the early 1970's; we initiated hundreds of peaceful demonstrations against institutions that exploit, abuse, and murder children, the elderly, animals, and the environment. We brought out in the open the abusive state owned and privately run homes for orphaned/problem children, and the infirm elderly; we protested animal experimental laboratories, big industrial corporations that poison the air, water, and soil daily. We went into each situation equipped with our belief, THE TEACHING OF JOHN AFRICA, to right the wrong that was being done, which no one could refute.
The people running these institutions would call the cops on us and they would automatically take sides with these institutions and physically assault MOVE People. They would lock us up, beat us up and put all kinds of trumped up charges on us to keep us in jail. This is how MOVE first got involved with the police and court system. MOVE spoke out against the abuse, successfully bringing attention on police brutality in Philadelphia. The police began a concerted campaign of harassment and abuse against MOVE. This is when the conspiracy against MOVE started. Between 1973-1977, MOVE people were arrested and beaten hundreds of times, MOVE women were beaten into miscarriages, five of our babies were murdered .
1974- District Attorney Emmet Fitzpatrick refused to accept our complaints filed by MOVE concerning the assault and abuse by police officers, he said the charges were unfounded and invalid.
This made it necessary for MOVE to take a serious protective stand to defend ourselves against any further bloody beatings, miscarriages, or murdered babies by the hands of the cops.
May 20th 1977 -Move initiated a demonstration on the platform we built in front of our house, and told officials over a loud speaker, that there will be no more sneak attacks, no more babies murdered, by cops, no more unjust imprisonment by prosecutors and judges and no more Move men, women, and children brutalized. From now on, if there was any beating murdering injustice done to Move, be prepared to do it out in the open, in full sight of the public for the whole world to see. We took the posture of self defense. The police department did not try to attack us or come in our home to arrest us the way they always did before when they saw we were defenseless. From that day on, our house was surrounded and kept under a close 24 hour surveillance so we couldn't leave the house without being arrested on trumped up charges.
May 20th 1977- police commissioner, Joseph O'Neil stated publicly that it is not a crime for Move to have weapons on our own property.
May 24th 1977- Commissioner O'Neil contradicted his self by getting judge Lynn Abraham to issue arrest warrants for Move Members on weapons charges.
November 1977 - District Attorney Ed Rendell failed to prosecute Move within the 180 day time limit of the warrants being issued on May 24th, and also failed to file a timely request for the extension of rule 1100. According to legal law, The District was supposed to lose the authority to prosecute the defendent in violation of rule 1100.
November 21st 1977- Assistant District Attorney Wilhelm Knauer and John Straub, filed for an extension of rule 1100 that had expired on November 12th, 1977. The request should have been meaningless yet it was accepted by the legal system and later ruled on by Judge Edward Blake in
February of 1978. Judge Blake gave The District Attorney until 90 days after the actual arrest of Move people to begin prosecution, this legal contradiction is compounded by Judge Blake because he accepted the District Attorney's untimely request and granted The District Attorney an extension. Judge Blake ruled untimely petition when no Move people or delegate was present to represent Move's interest. District Attorney Rendell, through Knauer and Straub, said Move could be prosecuted within 180 days because Move was barricaded within Move headquarters but Rendell knew this could not excuse him from filing a timely request for an extension of rule 1100, as legal laws state. Sue Africa, who was involved in The May 20th, 1977 confrontation, was arrested on June 12th 1977 and was in prison the entire time, not Move Headquaters, yet District Attorney Rendell through his assistance Knauer and Straub failed to prosecute Sue by November 12th 1977 or file a timely request for extension of rule 1100.
March, 1978 -Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo and District Attorney Ed Rendell got a court order from The Pennsylvania Supreme Court to institute a starvation blockade -the city cordoned off a 3 block radius around the house, they turned off water and denied us access to food. They arrested anybody who got caught trying to give us food and water. There were pregnant women and breast feeding babies and young children in the house along with the adults. After so much pressure from the public, the city officials began mediation efforts which resulted in a ten point agreement proposed to Move.
May of 1978 - Weapons were turned over to the city, the police searched our house, no weapons were found. Once examined, all the weapons were found to be inoperable. Move people were processed on the weapons charges stemming from May 20th 1977 confrontation. Before Move was processed on these charges, the city agreed to release all Move Political Prisoners and drop all outstanding charges within 4-6 weeks.
May 8th, 1978 - After 55 Days , the starvation blockade was lifted.
May 19th 1978 - After the agreement was finalized, the city insisted that Move not come to court. Attorney Oscar Gaskins went to court on Move's behalf.
Judge Dibona's order of May 3, 1978 said Move people were to vacate Move Headquarters within 90 days. Move never agreed to this. District Attorney Ed Rendell, publicly stated that all outstanding charges against Move people would be dismissed and we would be released on our own recognizance within 4-6 weeks of the cities agreement. However, when Move was processed on those weapons charges, the case was listed for June 13th, 1978, before Judge Smith contradicting the 4 to 6 weeks dismissal of charges stated by District Attorney Rendell. Judge Smith denied all pretrial motions raised on behalf of Move including the motion to dismiss the case under rule 1100. He continued the weapons case until August 9th, 1978 for trial before Judge William Marutani.
July 1978 - District Attorney Ed Rendell, through his Assistant District Attorney's, Knauer and Straub requested Judge Blake reconsider his five month old February ruling on the DA's petition to extend rule 1100. Judge Blake reconsidered his February order and extended the deadline for trying Move until November, 1978.
August 2,1978 - Police Inspector George Fencl went to Judge Dibona, a civil Judge who was also involved with the cities agreement and testified to seeing three Move people still at the Move House. Move never agreed to leave Move Headquarters and there was never an eviction order for Move to vacate. Legal Law states that a defendant is supposed to get at least 20 days notice of a hearing but this was contradicted by the legal system in Judge Dibona who summoned 20 Move people to come before him that same afternoon to show cause why he should not hold Move in civil contempt for staying in Move Headquarters past August 1st, 1978.
Judge Dibona's legal contradictions were further revealed when he issued further fraudulent criminal warrants on Move People knowing he had no jurisdiction over the criminal litigation. Judge Dibona issued bail warrants for Move People with the court numbers of the weapons case from May 20th 1977, knowing the case was under Judge Marutani's jurisdiction. District Attorney Ed Rendell assistant's Knauer and Straub, who made up the warrants knew Dibona had no jurisdiction over the matter. Judge Dibona claimed the issue was Move People refusing to leave Move Headquarters, but it is clear that the issue was not Move Headquarters or Move refusing to leave because Dibona knowing issued fraudulent warrants for two Move People he knew was in Richmond Virginia not in Philadelphia. After August 8th 1978, he did not revoke the criminal warrants he issued on Alberta, Dennis, Carlos, Frank and Raymond Africa even though they knew he was not in the house. The District Attorney along with the rest of these gangsters was only concerned with killing Move off, even if they had to violate legal laws to do it.
August 8th 1978 - 3:00 in the morning city officials came to our house with warrants to arrest all occupants of the house. These warrants were issued by Judge Fred Dibona, he said Move violated an August 2nd, 1978 civil court order by not appearing. Over 600 cops, k9, the fire department, came to our house armed with machine guns, Uzi rifles, mini rugers, all types of automatic and semi automatic weapons, they came with a tank, a crane, bulldozers, deluged water cannons, tear gas, smoke bombs, and grenades and the intent to kill. In their frenzy to kill Move, they wounded and killed their own cop. Move was arraigned on charges of assault, attempted murder, and the murder of a police officer. On August 8th 1978, the Philadelphia officials destroyed physical evidence in a serious murder trial when they demolished the Move house. It is an automatic legal procedure to protect the scene of the crime. Despite this obvious historical procedure, the District Attorney's Office, The Police Department, and The Judges twisted this procedure in the face of the world, then told people we had a fair trial.
District Attorney's Wilhelm Knauer and John Straub tried to lay ground work during the beginning of the trial, to use The May 20th 1977 demonstration as evidence to say Move conspired to kill cops on August 8th 1978. The District Attorney's first witness Dr. Robert Catherman, Assistant Medical Examiner who took part in the autopsy of Officer James Ramp, said Ramp's death was caused by a single gunshot wound at the upper left side at the top of the chest, below the collar bone. He said in the post mortem report the word right appeared in three places where it should have said left. He said he called the discrepancy with the report, to the attention of assistant District Attorney Knauer shortly before the hearing. District Attorney Knauer changed the official report presented in court. Shortly before the hearing, Knauer penciled in a 'L' over the top of the word 'right,' which caused a discrepancy with the report pertaining to the entry wound and the course of the bullet that killed Ramp. Charges were not brought against Knauer, and he was not sent to jail for tampering with evidence. District Attorney Knauer tampered with evidence in a serious murder case where people's freedom was at stake. The police department was to investigate Ramp's death, a ballistics test was to be conducted by police personnel, and an autopsy by the city medical examiner as a result of the discrepancy of the medical report. John White, a spokesman for District Attorney Ed Rendell, said prosecution of Move people will be made a lot more difficult because the house was destroyed and their was no way to determine the path or course of the bullet that killed Ramp.
District Attorney's Knauer and Straub were allowed by Judge Merna Marshall to use pictures and diagrams of the Move house as evidence against us because they had destroyed necessary physical evidence. Meanwhile, this is the same judge who ruled pictures of a three week old Move baby killed by police March 6th, 1976 could not be used as evidence against the police. District Attorney Knauer tried to imply that the weapon that killed Ramp was supposedly confiscated from Move Headquarters. It later came out in court that police had used the same type of weapons the day of the raid. The test of the bullet fragment taken from Ramp's body was determined inconclusive and incomplete because their was not enough bullet fragment to prove which gun the bullet came from.
According to every account, the fatal bullet that killed Ramp traveled downward. It is impossible for somebody in the basement to shoot somebody standing over them on street level and have the bullet travel downwards. The District Attorney's Office, the City had an obvious conspiracy which is proven in these noted facts. It should be clear that it is impossible for the District Attorney or the City Of Philadelphia to conduct and unbiased investigation of Move or itself.
May 1980 - 9 Move Members found guilty of 3rd degree murder, Criminal Attempted Murder, and Criminal Conspiracy.
August 4th 1981 - 9 Move members were sentenced to 30-100 years in prison by Judge Edwin Malmed. Move have been in prison now for 36 years for a crime we didn't commit. No Cops, District Attorney's, Judges or City Officials have ever been held accountable for the unjustified beating, jailing, and murders of innocent Move men, women, and children including The May 13th 1985 bombing and murdering of 11 innocent Move Members. Even with documented proof that the city officials abetted by the cops, and the DA's and judges deliberately plotted, planned and conspired to murder Move People. The Philadelphia District Attorney's May 13th 1985 investigation refused to indict any state or city officials. Reports of the investigation turned over to District Attorney Ronald Castille were never turned over to the Federal Grand Jury.
The Parole Board is another agency added in the conspiracy against Move. Move people became eligible for release in 2008 after spending 30 years in prison, but we were denied parole and have been denied every year since, and not eligible to see the parole board until 2016 eight years after our minimum.
Move Political Prisoner