Aug. 8, 1978: MOVE members remain in prison 39 years later solely because they are MOVE members

by Mumia Abu-Jamal

MOVE-member-Delbert-Africa-arrested-080878-by-Jim-G.-Domke-Phila.-Inquirer-265x300, Aug. 8, 1978: MOVE members remain in prison 39 years later solely because they are MOVE members, Abolition Now!
This iconic photo of the arrest of Delbert Africa on Aug. 8, 1978, stamps itself on one’s consciousness – unforgettable. – Photo: Jim G. Domke, Philadelphia Inquirer

Aug. 8, 2017 – Early morning. A time of rest, quiet and repose.

On Aug. 8, 1978, only the early birds in search of worms were stirring.

Also, cops assembled, heavily armed.

They attacked the MOVE House in Powelton Village, West Philadelphia. Dozens, then hundreds and perhaps thousands of shots poured into the home. How could we know the number? For before night fell, the building would be shattered, razed into the dark, wet earth.

Water cannons pumped hundreds of gallons into the house, a deliberate attempt to flush MOVE people from their own communal home.

When they emerged, to escape drowning and bullets shot into the dark basement, men, women and children arose from the murky waters to find themselves facing dozens of cops, fiendishly pointing rifles and pistols at them.

Instinctively, they raised their arms to show that they weren’t armed, to avoid being shot by the maddened coterie of cops.

Delbert Africa pulled himself out of a basement window, his arms raised above, his back and chest bare, only to be rifle-butted, slammed with a police helmet, and when he fell, pummeled, kicked repeatedly in his face and head. When he appeared in court for arraignment some hours later, his left eye looked more like a golf ball than an eyeball. Saliva ran down his chin, reflecting his broken jaw.

MOVE-member-Delbert-Africa-arrested-kicked-dragged-by-hair-by-cops-Philly-080878-300x202, Aug. 8, 1978: MOVE members remain in prison 39 years later solely because they are MOVE members, Abolition Now!
Philly cops brutalize Delbert Africa, kicking him as he’s dragged by his hair.

Almost all of the men were beaten, and what of the women? They were driven to the banks of the Delaware River, where they heard cops arguing amongst themselves.

One cop said, “Let’s rape them and throw them into the water!”

They were rerouted, and driven to the nearby House of Correction, a county prison, to await trial.

What happened to them on Aug. 8, the hellistic rain of police gunfire, beatings, rape threats and incarceration, was nothing compared to what they faced in Philadelphia courtrooms, where they were denied their every right, including their alleged right to self-representation, beaten again when they refused to attend their own legal lynchings, and then, the lynchpin – convictions, and common sentences before Judge Edwin Malmed of 30 to 100 years, for third degree murder?!

Malmed, during a phone call from me to the Frank Ford Show on WWDB-FM (where the judge was a guest) answered the question of who killed the cop by saying, “I haven’t the faintest idea.”

MOVE-8-art-by-Kevin-Rashid-Johnson-web-242x300, Aug. 8, 1978: MOVE members remain in prison 39 years later solely because they are MOVE members, Abolition Now!
“MOVE 8” – Art: Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, 158039, FSP, P.O. Box 800, Raiford FL 32083, drawn in 2005. Your cards and letters will protect Rashid in this new “home,” where they intend to break him.

Nine people. Nine men and women. Nine MOVE members – and 30 to 100 years!

Today, Aug. 8 of 2017, marks 39 years in prison for MOVE members, of whom seven survive. Merle and Phil Africa have returned to the Source, under what can only be called suspicious circumstances.

Another fact: none of the imprisoned MOVE sisters had weapons charges.

Eddie Africa was never convicted of any degree of murder! His charges? Attempted assault.

I kid you not.

MOVE members are in prison today because they were MOVE members. Period.

They are guilty of nothing – except resistance to a racist, brutal, corrupt system.

The same system that gave rise to mass incarceration on a scale that the world has never seen before.

Their sentence is an abomination.

Free Delbert, Eddie, Mike, Chuck, Janine, Janet and Debbie Africa!

© Copyright 2017 Mumia Abu-Jamal. Keep updated at His new book is “Writing on the Wall,” edited by Joanna Hernandez. For Mumia’s commentaries, visit Encourage the media to publish and broadcast Mumia’s commentaries. Send our brother some love and light: Mumia Abu-Jamal, AM 8335, SCI-Mahanoy, 301 Morea Road, Frackville, PA 17932.