GILBRIDE MURDERED! DA ABRAHAM SEEKING SEARCH WARRANT FOR MOVE HOME!
By Hans Bennett
In this photo, Mario Africa is interviewed by the Philadelphia Daily News in front of the MOVE home, Friday afternoon. To his left, Pam Africa talks with MOVE supporters. For the complete photo portion of this essay, please link to:
Early Friday morning the Philadelphia media reported that John Gilbride --involved in a custody dispute with Alberta Africa of the MOVE organization—was found dead of gunshot wounds in his car. Burlington County Robert D. Bernardi said this afternoon that John Gilbride, 34, was shot multiple times in the head and chest. He termed the attack an "ambush." One sign of the ambush was that he still had his seatbelt on after driving home from the Philadelphia airport where he worked.
While being in a state of shock and sadness in light of Gilbride’s death, MOVE and many supporters were also concerned that MOVE could be accused of involvement in the murder, and that the police could possibly attack and arrest members of MOVE. Philadelphia Family Court Judge Shelly Robins New had recently ruled to give John Gilbride unsupervised custody of his son Zack Africa for every other weekend. This ruling overturned an earlier ruling by senior Judge Rosenberg, which said that Gilbride could only have supervised visits. Zach Africa had told Rosenberg privately in his chambers that while he loved his father, he was “afraid of him” and only wanted to see him if his mother was also present. Furthermore Gilbride had exhibited both physically and psychologically abusive behavior towards his son Zack. Recently the abusive behavior extended to his ex-wife (and mother of Zack) Alberta Africa. Weeks ago, when coming to see his son, Gilbride threw Alberta Africa against the wall while spraining her wrist and breaking 2 fingers.
On Sept. 9, the New Jersey court (where both Alberta Africa and John Gilbride reside) upheld New’s custody decision and denied the restraining order that Alberta Africa and MOVE were seeking on Gilbride, in light of his attack on Alberta. Since then, it has been a state of utmost emergency in the minds of MOVE and its supporters. Press releases by both MOVE and various supporters warned of a possible police attack upon MOVE justified by the court decisions. While most of the local media presented MOVE as paranoid for fearing an attack in light of official police statements that they were not planning anything, there has been a substantial police presence as of late.
On the night of Sept.11, four marked Philadelphia police cars blocked in the car of a MOVE supporter’s car as it was departing MOVE’s West Philadelphia headquarters. When the police insisted that the driver get out of the car without any stated explanation from the police, be blared the car’s horn to alert MOVE (who was all inside the house). When Ramona Africa and other MOVE members came out of the home, police backed down and eventually left. Since, supporters visiting the house have reported police cars following them when they departed from the home. MOVE and supporters point to events such as these when arguing that there is indeed a serious threat towards them from the Philadelphia police.
With the situation already tense, the murder of Gilbride only intensifies things. The big question is: will the police accuse MOVE of involvement in Gilbride’s murder? Will this instigate a confrontation?
Philadelphia Police Captain Bill Fisher was quoted today in the Philadelphia Inquirer saying that despite the recent custody struggle between Gilbride and MOVE, he did not think MOVE was involved in the killing. "I knew there was a lot of rhetoric and everything else, but keep it in perspective, it’s a child custody thing," Fisher said.
In an interview Friday in front of MOVE’s West Philadelphia home, Mario Africa told me that judging from past police actions, the police “know that MOVE is not about murder”. Africa explained that in the 80’s during court trails following the May 13, 1985 FBI and Philadelphia police bombing of MOVE’s West Philadelphia home, one state witness –Donald Glassey—was put under witness protection. But immediately following the trail, the police have MOVE his home address and phone number. According to Africa, this demonstrates that police had no serious fear that MOVE would threaten the life or physical safety of Glassey. The police know that “MOVE’s belief is in life, not in death & killing.”
Mario Africa explains further, that while MOVE has always believed in self-defense when attacked, their political strategy is not to shoot it out with the cops. This is partly because they have infinitely superior weaponry, and also because of MOVE’s deep belief in the sacredness of life.
Both Pam and Mario Africa seemed in a state of shock and genuinely sad about John Gilbride’s murder. Pam and Mario explained to me that while they were certainly upset with Gilbride for the trouble he was causing Alberta Africa and MOVE, his death was very sad. As Mario explained, they wanted Zack Africa to have a father who was a positive influence in his life. When he was alive their was some chance he could change his life around and become an actual father for Zack. Now that is impossible and Zack will be forever scarred with the memory of his father’s murder.
At this point in the day, it was not looking as bad as it could have been. It was not looking like the police would accuse MOVE of involvement in Gilbride’s murder. This would not last long when the bad news arrived. Pam Africa learned from a KYW-TV News Reporter that DA Lynne Abraham was seeking a search warrant of their home in relation to Gilbride’s murder. The situation has now intensified since last week.
Pam Africa of MOVE and the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal has issued a statement in light of the news:
"A TV NEWS REPORTER JUST INFORMED US THAT D.A. LYNNE ABRAHAM IS GETTING A WARRANT TO COME INTO OUR (MOVE'S) HOUSE. SYLVESTER JOHNSON'S POLICE HAVE HAD US UNDER STEADY SURVEILLANCE AND KNOW ALL OF OUR COMINGS AND GOINGS. THEY KNOW WE AINT GONE NOWHERE AND AINT DONE SHIT. JOHNSON SAID HE WOULD KEEP THE LINES OF COMMUNICATIONS OPEN WITH US, BUT WE ARE HEARING THIS FROM A NEWS REPORTER AND NOT HIM! WE NEED OUR SUPPORTERS TO COME TO PHILADELPHIA, WE ARE IN A STATE OF EMERGENCY RIGHT NOW!".
Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer Article:
Mike R. of the Philadelphia IMC’s essay:
Philadelphia journalist Walidah Imarisha recent essay:
For other work by Hans Bennett reporting from Philadelphia and providing a context for today’s events, please link to:
For Hans’ May, 2002 interview with Ramona Africa talking about May 13, 1985, Gubernatorial candidate Ed Rendell, self-defense, and Mumia Abu-Jamal, please link to:
For a report on this Mother’s Day’s protest commemorating the anniversary of the May 13, 1985 bombing, please link to:
For a report on this August’s Philadelphia demonstration commemorating the Aug. 8, 1978 seige of MOVE’s Powelton Village home, and the subsequent imprisonment of the MOVE 9, as well as a history of the events leading up to Aug. 8, please link to:
MOVE Press Release Friday, Sept.27:
MOVE is committed to protecting our children but we're not killers or murderers. Our real fight have always been with this government, not with John Gilbride, because MOVE is very clear on who the real enemy is here, and we have always been clear on who the real enemy is- this government. John Gilbride was being misused by his racist, hateful father, Jack Gilbride, and John became the unfortunate pawn of this government's, and his own father's treachery.
Jack Gilbride made it very clear on more than one occasion that he disliked his son. He used to torture the boy when he was young, and once when John was 17 years old his father deliberately gave him wrong directions and caused John to end up in the middle of South Central in L.A. California. John was a young, inexperienced white 17 yr. old boy, middle class, from the N.J. suburbs, and his first trip out to California with his father, and this is the kind of dirty, lowdown, dangerous trick this man played on his own son. Jack Gilbride was furious when he found out that John had married Alberta, and later on he was consumed by jealousy when he saw the good marriage John and Alberta had, the beautiful son they had together, the nice home they had, the promising job John had, and most of all, he was jealous of all the love he saw between John and Alberta. He wanted to destroy that at all cost, and he eventually did just that.
Jack Gilbride is the one behind John walking out and abandoning his wife and son, Jack Gilbride, and this government who's help he sought, and this government was more than willing to help because it was an opportunity to once again come at MOVE. THE MOVE ORGANIZATION believes this government is behind everything involving this situation, from John abandoning his family, to the unjust custody case before Judge Shelly Robins-New, to this present tragedy of John Gilbride being murdered, this government is the only ones treacherous and cold enough to carry out such an act, and we believe the government did it out of sheer spite and hate because they couldn't get their hands on the child, to hurt Alberta and MOVE, so they got John.
These people in government know how MOVE feels about people we're familiar with, and they know for a fact that Alberta and her son loved John , he was her husband and her son's father, despite the problems he had, that's why she never stopped trying to work with him, no matter what, and her only limit was that she would not allow him to have the child unsupervised because it was not safe for the child because of John's state of mind. This government killed Alberta's first husband, JOHN AFRICA, now they've killed her second husband and her baby's father. Now, there is no hope of John Gilbride ever being reunited with his wife and son, which is exactly what this government intended.
This government knows how close we are to people that we're familiar with, that closeness doesn't go away, ever. Look at the example of MOVE'S Founder, JOHN AFRICA, during the 1981 federal trial known as JOHN AFRICA vs. The System. JOHN AFRICA embraced Don Glassey, held no malice toward a man that this government threatened and intimidated into testifying, lying against JOHN AFRICA in court. Our sister, Alberta, held no malice against John Gilbride, she worked with John Gilbride, did everything she could to help him re-establish a relationship with his son, she never saw him as an enemy. MOVE knows that it's the government that is behind John Gilbride's actions in the custody case, and it's the government that's to blame for the death of John Gilbride.
THE MOVE ORGANIZATION IS DEEPLY SADDENED AND HURT BY THE BLOW WE RECEIVED THIS MORNING OF THE NEWS THAT JOHN IS GONE. WE'D ASK THIS GOVERNMENT ARE THEY SATISFIED NOW THAT THEY'VE TAKEN JOHN, JUST LIKE THEY TOOK SO MANY OTHERS IN THE PAST, TO PUT SO MUCH PAIN AND HURT ON MOVE, FOR NOTHING EXCEPT THEIR HATE. THEY COULDN'T HURT ALBERTA AND HER SON ANY OTHER WAY SO THEY DELIBERATELY COMMITTED THIS COLD ACT, AND NOW THERE'S NO MORE HOPE FOR JOHN TO BE A GOOD FATHER, OR FOR HIS FAMILY TO BE REUNITED.