Emergency!! MOVE under attack!! A report from Philadelphia
by Hans Bennett
Last Monday (Sept.9) I posted an article on indymedia declaring a state of emergency here in Philadelphia following the decision to uphold Judge New’s decision to give John Gilbride unsupervised partial custody as well as overturning Alberta Africa’s restraining order on Gilbride after he attacked her (spraining her wrist and breaking 2 fingers).
I am writing this early Tuesday morning (Sept.17) right after visiting the MOVE home on Kingsessing Ave. in West Philadelphia. I spoke with three MOVE members keeping watch at the front gate of their home while the rest of the family was inside trying to get some rest. The situation is very tense right now and MOVE must be on 24 hour watch. The windows of their house (facing the street) are boarded up in preparation for a police assault.
Welcome to Philadelphia!
The situation has definitely NOT gotten better since I last posted an essay on last Monday. On Wednesday night (Sept.11) the police made an aggressive act in front of the MOVE home on Kingsessing Avenue in West Philadelphia. As a group of MOVE supporters was backing their car out the driveway following their visit, a police car drove up and blocked them (almost causing a collision). The MOVE supporters were suspicious of the police motives and when the cops demanded they leave their car without giving any reason for it, the driver hit the horn to alert MOVE inside the house.
When Ramona Africa and others came out of the house and confronted the police, the cops claimed to not have known that it was the MOVE home. The police claimed that the MOVE supporters’ car with Virginia plates fit the profile of a vehicle suspected of kidnapping a young child nearby. This absurd statement is particularly ironic in light of the government’s planning on taking Zack Africa away from his mother.
This event is a very bad sign. What were the police planning on doing before MOVE was alerted and came out of the house? This is a clear sign that Philadelphia police behavior since last Monday’s decision has not been one of caution, or respect to MOVE. This was an act of sheer harassment, and in the present context is a very serious step for the police to take. Perhaps they were testing the waters to see how far they can go, but such speculation is unnecessary for us to understand that the situation has only become graver since last Monday’s decision.
This Monday the MOVE home received a phone call from John Gilbride notifying them that he is seeking a bench warrant for the arrest of Alberta. This now gives the police even one more justification/reason for starting a (possibly violent and bloody) confrontation at MOVE’s Kingsessing headquarters. Both the murderous 1978 and 1985 police attacks on MOVE’s home were officially justified with court orders stemming from minor charges. Today’s present situation is therefore very similar to 78 and 85.
This past Friday, 4 cops came to the MOVE house to get Zack, even though the court order specified that the first unsupervised visit would be this upcoming Friday (Sept. 20). The police claimed to have a court order saying that Gilbride would have custody, but when MOVE demanded to see it, they explained that Gilbride himself had it, so they could not show them. This supposed court order is also suspect because if he had one, Alberta Africa should have been given one also. However, Alberta and MOVE say they haven’t gotten anything of the sort.
This slimy move by Gilbride and the police is an indication of the seriousness of this Friday when the court order says Alberta must give Zack to Gilbride. MOVE says that they will not give Zack or Alberta over to the police. While there is still a chance of something bad happening before this Friday, this is the most likely day that an ugly conflict will take place. It is difficult to stress just how important it is that we organize and spread the word about what is happening in Philadelphia right now. It truly is a matter of life and death.
For more, please link to my first post regarding this situation (written on Monday, Sept.9, and also currently featured on the front page of the phillyimc) : http://www.phillyimc.org/article.pl?sid=02/09/10/0529238
to link to my May, 2002 interview with Ramona Africa (Minister of Information for MOVE and the sole adult survivor of the May 13, 1985 massacre): http://awol.objector.org/articles/ramonainterview.html
to link to my photoessay from this years demonstration for the MOVE 9: http://awol.objector.org/recentnewsandevents/move902.html
For the most up to date news, check out:
Also, look for another essay from me any day with photos from the MOVE home and an update!!
NEWEST STATEMENT FROM PHILADELPHIA FRIENDS OF MOVE
It is becoming more clear by the day that the government is bound and determined to violate their own laws, sacrifice their own constitution, and spill the blood of innocent MOVE men, women, babies, and animals. They are using the hatred of John Gilbride to fuel this insanity, to give sanction to the premeditated and remorseless killing, to give some kind of credibility to this violation. Well, the government, despite their lies and their so-called legality is no more justified or credible than they were when they killed MOVE babies on May 13th 1985 or when they tried to kill MOVE babies on August 8, 1978.
Today John Gilbride left a message on Alberta Africa's answering machine that he was taking out a bench warrant on her to have her arrested so that he could take Alberta's son from her. What should be understood is that MOVE will not allow Alberta to be taken from her family no sooner than they would allow for her child to be taken from her. John Gilbride has been escalating in his threats, today leaving no less than eight what can only be described as psychotic messages on Alberta's answering machine. He is further demonstrating the fact that he has no regard for the life of his former wife or his six year old son.
In another crystallizing example of this system's willingness to defile it's own legal procedures we learned from the Cherry Hill Police department that the denial of Alberta's motion to have a restraining order put on John Gilbride was an extreme deviation from the norm. MOVE people were told by their sources that when there is a case where there is demonstrable physical abuse coupled with a police report and eyewitness testimony that it is unheard of for a restraining order to be denied.
In Alberta's situation there was a police report of the incident, there was a hospital report that stated that she suffered a "contusion" during the assault. There were five witnesses to the assault and all of them testified to the fact that John Gilbride assaulted Alberta. The judge denied Alberta's motion because of what he claimed was inconsistencies in the testimonies of the five witnesses. This is a patently absurd and insulting notion due to the fact that while not all of the witnesses recounted what they saw in exactly the same way, they all said that John Gilbride assaulted Alberta. All of these witnesses saw the incident from widely divergent vantage points so it is a physical impossibility for them to have all seen it the exact same way. Putting witnesses aside for a moment Judge Milenky also saw fit to ignore the fact that Alberta had a report from the hospital in Cherry Hill where she was examined that showed clearly that she had been attacked
All of this means nothing to the government because as the proceedings in Judge Milenky's court took shape it became clear to all in attendance that this judge had his mind made up (or made up for him) before it all began.
It is this ongoing issue of one set of standards that is applied to MOVE and other freedom fighters and one to officials that should enrage people. When this government wanted to put Mumia on death row they ignored all kinds of backwards, confusing, disjointed testimony. When they wanted to put away the MOVE 9 they disregarded all of the testimony from their own official people that MOVE did nothing but try to survive Rizzo's"shoot in" of their headquarters. Inconsistent testimony did not stop the Federal Government from imprisoning Leonard Peltier for all of these years. The examples are endless and they all point to the diabolical nature of a system that has it's own agenda at heart. So if the American judicial system can kill people behind testimony that does not fit together, how is it that they cannot impose a restraining order on a man that has clearly shown that he is dangerous, violent, sick, and has a potential to kidnap? The answer is clear and it should make people angry, it should make people wake up and get on the MOVE to ensure that this puppet of the government John Gilbride not be allowed to do what he is attempting to do.
This situation could come to a head at any time and people need to do whatever it is in their power to do to avert this government assault. Throughout the world people have reacted in revulsion to what the government did on May 13, 1985, and now it is on the brink of happening again. Don't hallucinate about their intentions because they are making it known time and time again that they don't care about law, justice, freedom, not to speak of the safety of a child. They want to destroy MOVE because MOVE will not bow to them and it is that simple.
-Philly Friends MOVE
LONG LIVE JOHN AFRICA FOREVER,
Philly Friends of MOVE
MOVE (Please only call if you must speak with MOVE, otherwise call Friends of MOVE because MOVE is very busy)
For updates check out mumia.org or phillyimc.org
WHAT YOU CAN DO
-Call Judge Milenky's office at 856.488.7802 and let him know that his refusal to grant a restraining order against John Gilbride is allowing John to literally terrorize with threats Alberta Africa and her child. Make sure that he knows that if anything happens as a result of this situation that the blame will fall on the shoulders of those responsible, him included.
-Call the Cherry Hill Police Department 856.488.7802 and make an issue of the court order that police attempted to enforce on Alberta at her Cherry Hill home. She has never seen this court order and was never served them. This is a clear violation of police procedure. When pressed on this issue the Police claimed that there was only "one copy." It should also be noted that Detectives from Cherry Hill are attempting to intimidate MOVE supporters who tried to contact the mayor's office in that city.
-Most importantly is the need to put pressure on the Philly Courts. Officials in New Jersey make the claim that they are simply enforcing the rulings of Philadelphia courts and that if the courts in Philadelphia backed off of this issue than so would they. Call President Judge Merna Field who is in charge of family court in Philadelphia and demand that this continuing injustice cease and that her courts bear the responsibility for this situation. Her number is 215-686-7970 her fax is 215-683-7108
Lets make our actions count because we may not have much time.