by The German Network against the Death Penalty and to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, Freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal Frankfurt, Freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal Heidelberg, Freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal Nuremberg, Coalition to Free Mumia Berlin
At this 30th anniversary of the MOVE massacre in Philadelphia, we here in Germany feel very close to you even despite the physical divide of more than 4,000 miles.
The daily incidents of brutal police violence against African Americans but also poor white folk in recent months have shocked millions of people in Europe and Germany out of ideas that were perhaps somewhat naïve before into reality:
A system that for many citizens has become a police state, where might makes right and those who supposedly “protect and serve” the community all too often act as a hostile occupying power in the service of both white supremacy and the 1 percent.
All of us could have known before. It has all happened before, and on an even larger scale.
On May 13, 1985, a protest by MOVE against the incarceration of their comrades since 1978 that had involved no violence beyond the use of loudspeakers and bullhorns, ended in a wholesale police-organized slaughter in which five children and six adults perished.
The bomb then dropped on the MOVE house at 6221 Osage generated a fire almost as hellish as the one on 9/11 in New York, but, quite officially, the decision was made to let the fire burn – a fire that then proceeded to consume a whole city block. Those responsible later said they had to protect the neighborhood from the intolerable terroristic behavior of MOVE.
“One is reminded,” Mumia has written about another case of racist police brutality, “of the saying that came out of the Vietnam War when U.S. troops ravaged and napalmed villagers: ‘We had to destroy the village in order to save it.’”
When it came to rescuing the occupants of 6200 Osage block from loud demands to act for justice for the incarcerated MOVE 9, May 13, 1985 was undoubtedly quite effective: The whole of 6200 Osage Avenue was no more.
The “power structure,” as Huey P. Newton used to call it, is often ready to go to the bitter end of exterminating live human beings to prevent simple calls for justice from being heard. And often it succeeds for a while. It then seems as if the battle against it is utterly hopeless.
One of those who has constantly reminded us to not judge reality by its depressing appearance is Mumia. When MOVE staged a tiny demonstration on the eighth anniversary of the massacre, he reported on it even though by then he had himself been in prison for more than 11 years.
Different from the mainstream media, he saw in the demonstration, small as it was, the portent of important things to come. Here is what he said:
“’Thirty to a hundred years no more, free MOVE now, open up the door!’ A marcher’s chant. … ‘We’re fired up, still on the MOVE.’ A march chant. Their voices were light, heavy, thin and thunderous. Theirs were the voices of MOVE men, MOVE women and MOVE children, the young sons and daughters of revolution.”
Of course today’s right-wing bigots pretend to be shocked at the mere thought of children doing something that could be interpreted as political, like when a teacher allows young students to write post cards to express human compassion with a prisoner. These are the same people who have no trouble marching their children to the shooting range and training them in the mock killing of people.
Different from them, Mumia is no hypocrite and of course welcomed the MOVE children’s participation in the action.
The MOVE children who were at the demo 22 years ago are now adults. They have carried the torch of freedom for all those years. They’re still fired up, but by a fire very different from the one that annihilated 6200 Osage Avenue in 1985. It is the fire of the cry for freedom, justice and human rights, a fire that is an inspiration for thousands upon thousands of people all around the world.
Let the 1 percent and their racist minions be assured that not only MOVE, but all of us will let this fire burn until justice is done and the MOVE 9, Mumia and all the other captives of Babylon are free.