Summary: The Black Liberation Army (BLA) was an underground, black nationalist militant organization that operated from 1970 to 1981. The group lived in a communal setting in West Philadelphia, abiding by philosophies of anarcho-primitivism. as in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, rescued from the death chamber through the power exerted by millions of people who took to the streets internationally. They each have their own survival methods. I reported to the nurses. “Her release is a breakthrough! Released in 1971, his outside activism was cut short a week following his release when Joe-Joe was confronted by an officer of the notoriously brutal … Delbert Africa and other members of Move, an organisation founded by John Africa, sit in front of their barricaded house in the Powelton Village section of … The camera pans in on him as he lies on the street after he was hit with the police helmet. African liberation movement. Unlike the Black Panther party which formally dissolved in 1982, Move is still a living entity. “The murder of my children, my family, will always affect me, but not in a bad way. A native of Philadelphia, Joe-Joe was a young member of the “30th and Norris Street” gang, before his incarceration politicized him. They liked to project their revolutionary message at high volume from a bullhorn at all hours of night and day. Cops then, like now, were under fire – figuratively and literally. But a grand jury cleared all officials of criminal liability for the 1985 bombing that killed 11 people, including five children. Along with former Black Panthers and Black Liberation Army members, they amount to the unfinished business of the black liberation struggle. When the 1978 siege happened, there were 12 adults and 11 children in the Move house in Powelton Village – and 48 dogs. You couldn’t tell when it was night or day, they kept the lights on 24/7. “I keep saying to myself: ‘I will not fall apart. The Black Liberation Army COINTELPRO’s destruction of the BPP forced many members underground and gave rise to the Black Liberation Army (BLA) – a New Afrikan guerrilla organization. “I had nothing to do with killing a cop in 1978. We only got to hug her briefly and watch her leave. Rizzo bragged he would “show them more firepower than they’ve ever seen”. Other executions have been stopped by legal challenges or political pressure – as in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, rescued from the death chamber through the power exerted by millions of people who took to the streets internationally. Never forgotten. … “Cop killing” was the charge used to take out Maroon’s Black Liberation Army comrades Sekou Odinga and Mutulu Shakur, in separate incidents in 1981. Russell Shoatz, framed for killing a cop in 1972; Chuck, Mike, Debbie, Phil, Merle, Janet, Janine, Delbert, and Eddie Africa – all framed for killing a cop in 1978; Mumia Abu-Jamal, framed for killing a cop in 1981. We demonstrated against police brutality. I felt, and still do feel so badly for your family. Many of them remain strikingly passionate about the cause, even as they strive for release in some cases half a century into their sentences. I will not give in.’”. Philadelphia police had dropped a bomb from a helicopter onto a Move house on Osage Avenue in the west of Philadelphia in an attempt to force the black radicals to evacuate the premises after long-running battles with the authorities. In June, Janine and Janet Africa also went before the same parole board as Debbie and made essentially the same case that they had earned their freedom. The then mayor of Philadelphia, Wilson Goode, notoriously gave the go-ahead for the bombing, and the fire that ensued was allowed to rage, the blaze spreading across the black neighborhood and razing 61 homes to the ground. He stayed in the hole for six years. In short, a bad Mama Jamma! Copyright © 2020 Workers World. “That’s when I put my arms out wide.”. Like, dang! Assata Shakur is a former member of the Black Liberation Army. When I visited him in Dallas there they hung, salt-and-peppered now, proudly down to his hips. What to do now? The BLA continued the struggle by waging urban guerrilla war across the U.S. through highly mobile strike teams. I asked Janine Africa how she coped with losing two young sons during clashes with law enforcement. 1_0004.pdf 6.13 MB ... army units from the Finnish Gulf to the Black Sea. According to a Justice Department report on BLA activity, the Black Liberation Army is suspected of involvement in over 70 incidents of violence between 1970 and 1976. “I wanted to strike out. Over the months, I came to learn about the double tragedy in Janine Africa’s life. He was prosecuted as one of the Panther 21. An online news conference called by Mobilization for Mumia, Black Lives Matter Philadelphia, Black Philly Radical Collective, the Black Alliance for Peace, International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal and an array of other civil rights and progressive organizations put a spotlight on the current stage of the struggle to free political prisoner and award-winning radio journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal as … Each was sentenced to 30 years to life, though to this day they protest their innocence. Her departure came as a jolt. At about 6am on 8 August 1978 the action started. Last modified on Mon 3 Feb 2020 12.47 GMT. They’ve both experienced long stretches in solitary confinement, a brand of punishment that the UN has decried as a form of torture. Everyone says they can’t do nothin’ about it. … I can’t be sick, messin’ on myself. In the course of that first letter, Janine Africa, who was 22 when she was arrested and is now 62, took me deep into the “torture chamber”, the cruel solitary confinement wing where she spent the first three years of her sentence. “I feel overjoyed that Debbie is out,” he wrote to me. Delbert Orr Africa died in June 2020, only six months after his release. There was a similar robustness to the first response I received in December 2016 after reaching out to Janine Phillips Africa, one of the four women among the Move 9. Who was Dred Scott? She too died in the fire. He was not kidding. I wanted to wreak as much havoc as I could until they put me down. When I think about what this system has done to me and my family, it makes me even more committed to my belief,” she said. Forty years ago, Philadelphia erupted in one of the most dramatic shoot-outs of the black liberation struggle. She said of Ramp: “I was so sad to hear of your passing. At 8.15am shots rang out and a thunderstorm of gunfire erupted that is captured on police footage of the incident. MOVE 9 member Mike Africa, Sr., spoke at the event: “If you’re in a state like Maroon is [with cancer], it’s especially crucial that he gets the nourishment he needs to battle that disease. Buffalo protesters denounce capitalist failure in COVID-19 crisis, My year as a Workers World candidate – a commentary. You can get a sense of the depth of feeling by reading the comments under Ramp’s page on the Philadelphia Officer Down Memorial website. Janine’s 12-year-old son, Little Phil, was being cared for in that house by other Move adults while she was in custody. Throughout, the Move prisoners have drawn strength from companionship with other members of the nine. Print subscriptions will still be extended in consideration of the temporary suspension of printing and the currently more limited print schedule. The board said they showed “lack of remorse” for the death of Ramp in the 1978 siege. In 1979, M19 and members of the Black Liberation Army devised a plan to break Shakur out of the maximum-security prison. Shoatz described conditions in the prison COVID unit in a recent phone conversation. Next, Del Africa appears, his hands outstretched in that Jesus pose. The utter horror and indignity of the situation Shoatz is enduring shocks the conscience. For what is John Brown remembered? I had come to interview him as part of a two-year project in which I made contact with eight black liberationists who have all experienced long prison sentences. They are among a total of 19 black radicals who remain locked up in penitentiaries across America having been convicted of violent acts committed in the name of black power between the late 1960s and early 1980s. In the 1960s and 70s, the political police force known as the Federal Bureau of Investigation identified the Black liberation struggle and the Black Panther Party as the greatest domestic threat to the U.S. empire, as well as targeting the American Indian Movement and those it identified as its leaders. The bomb ignited a fire in the Move house that turned into an inferno. When Move refused to vacate the premises having been issued with an eviction order, Rizzo said he would impose a blockade on the house so tight “even a fly wouldn’t get in”. In a system of mass incarceration that reportedly holds 2.5 million people in cages on any given day, over 275,000 U.S. prisoners are reported to have contracted COVID-19. “Warm Revolutionary greetings, Ed!”, He then launched into a long deliberation about the “plight of political prisoners here in ameriKKKa!”. And they got one toilet. As the 40th anniversary approaches, six of the Move 9 are still behind bars, Del Africa included. “It’s strange not having Deb here,” Janine said. We are pleased to announce that we have resumed printing and mailing on a monthly basis, for now. Joseph “Joe-Joe” Bowen is one of the many all-but-forgotten frontline soldiers in the liberation struggle. “I just cried,” he said during my prison visit. Del Africa, 72, and I talked for three hours in the prison visitors’ room. In 1977, she was convicted of the murder of a New Jersey State Trooper in a trial that her supporters argue was unfair. In August of 1970, at the height of the nationwide repression of the New African liberation movement, 4 others and I became fugitives (known as the “No one in the house had any gunshot residue, none of us had fingerprints on any of the weapons they claim came out of the house.”. Janine shared a cell with two other surviving Move women – Debbie Africa and Janet Holloway Africa – in Cambridge Springs women’s prison in Pennsylvania. “As I emerged from the basement I had the presence of mind to let them see I was unarmed, so I took my shirt off,” the black man said. Everyone else around him was wearing the same uniform of Dallas maximum-security prison in Pennsylvania that he has worn every day since appearing in that photograph 40 years ago. He ended with the quip: “But, hey, I don’t wanna burn you out the first time I reply to your email.”. As they approach the 40th anniversary of the siege and of their subsequent captivity, Del and Janine Africa described to me how they’ve coped for so long doing time for a crime they insist they did not commit. In 2000 the state finally got its hands on Imam Jamil al-Amin (the former Black Panther H. Rap Brown) by blaming him for shooting a cop. A Black Liberation Army political communiqué becomes symptomatic of an undertaking that threatens authorization itself. The Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police has a plaque for Ramp on its memorial site. Joseph earned his BA from the University of Kansas while at Leavenworth. The Black Liberation Army and the Killers: After four years that included a lengthy manhunt, interrogation and interviews, evidence collection, legal procedures, and a mistrial resulting from a hung jury, Herman Bell, Albert Washington and Anthony Bottom were found guilty of homicide in the first degree of the two police officers on April 10, 1975. In November, he tested positive for COVID-19. This is an even more urgent truth during the coronavirus pandemic. John Africa was known as the “dog man”, as he was rarely seen without one. They were charged as a nine-person unit with the murder of the police officer who died in the melee, James Ramp. “I’m looking at 22 [people] who look like [they’re in] a refugee camp. Slavery never ended, it was just disguised. The ranks of the Move 9 have slowly been depleted over the years. “There are times when I think about Life and my son Phil, but I don’t keep those thoughts in my mind long because they hurt.”. “The way I’m in here is the way I’ll be outside, there is no risk factor,” she told them. On November 2nd, three BLA members signed into the facility as guests. Life went on like this for years, and had acquired its own normality, almost a certain tranquility. Move members were battered by water cannon as they took refuge in the basement of the building. It compares to the Spanish imperial Reconcentration Policy in Cuba, when 30 percent of those forced into enclosures died, to the U.S.-operated reconcentrados or “zones of protection” in the Philippines, and to the Israeli occupation of Gaza. We demonstrated against police brutality. And we did so uncompromisingly. However, the continued killing of Black men and boys has served to force the average black person in America to arm themselves. A Black Panther Party member and soldier in the Black Liberation Army, Shoatz was falsely accused of killing a cop in the Cobbs Creek area of Philadelphia in 1970. Another cop swung his shotgun and broke my jaw. In 1976, Philadelphia police officers turned up at the Move house in Powelton Village having been called out to a disturbance. Their city had just bombed its … Supporters have waged massive political and legal struggles to get even basic treatment for each of these symptoms. Composed entirely of Black Panthers who served as members of both groups, the organization's program was one of war against the United States government, and its stated goal was to "take up arms for the liberation and self-determination of black people in the United … Have they shown any remorse for what happened to my daughter in 1985?”. He once said of the Move radicals: “You are dealing with criminals, barbarians, you are safer in the jungle!” Another Rizzo classic was: “Break their heads is right. “We demonstrated against puppy mills, zoos, circuses, any form of enslavement of animals. As it turns out, that police officer really had been about to whack him. Mass death through a policy of willful neglect in U.S. prisons is written all over this moment. She was reticent. Two police officers begin kicking him on his head which bounces between them like a ball. “Smashed my eye. The photograph is one of the standout images of the 1970s black liberation struggle. Composed largely of former Black Panthers, the organization's program was one of armed struggle for the "liberation and self-determination of black people in the United States." Scuffling ensued between some Move residents and police. A Black Panther Party member and soldier in the Black Liberation Army, Shoatz was falsely accused of killing a cop in the Cobbs Creek area of Philadelphia in 1970. The black liberation group MOVE was founded in 1972 by John Africa (born Vincent Leaphart). But imprisonment itself is a form of execution, a cruel and torturous and gradual method. He knows he will only be paroled if he expresses heartfelt remorse. Tear gas was propelled into the house. Soon after Move adults and naked children began emerging from the smoke-ridden basement. Joe-Joe Bowen is a Black Liberation Army (BLA) Prisoner of War, serving two life sentences for actions carried out against a prison warden and deputy warden, as well as, an attempted prison break, which resulted in a five-day standoff. Another two police officers on the list were murdered by the Weather Underground [1981 Brinks Truck Robbery], a domestic terrorist group with ties to the Black Liberation Army. When I went to meet him he was wearing a burgundy one-piece with a white T-shirt and blue shoes. I came to and a dude was dragging me by my hair and cops started kicking me in the head. Like many of the 19 black liberationists still behind bars, Del Africa is caught in a trap attached to the crime for which he was convicted. During the final days of the Trump administration, the U.S. federal government has revived the death penalty and is killing federal prisoners at a sickening rate. While serving a life sentence for the murder she escaped from prison in 1979. ( 1943-08-23) (age 77) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Ed Pilkington tells the surreal story of the Move 9 – and what happened to them next, Tue 31 Jul 2018 09.00 BST While the number of Black liberation leaders locked up since the heyday of the Black Panthers is dwindling—with the surviving seven members of the Move 9 in Philadelphia having all been released on parole in the past two years—many, such as Edward Poindexter, who marked his fiftieth year in prison this August, still remain. An African American man, his hair in dreadlocks, chest bare, stands with arms outstretched as though emulating Jesus on the cross. The black man is Delbert Orr Africa, Del for short. “No, never going to do that,” he said. Mumia Abu-Jamal has nearly had his life stolen by the prison-industrial complex many times. So too did six adults including Move’s founder, John Africa, AKA Vincent Leaphart. That’s how it’s been since our arrest in 1978,” she said. His family, pillars of their community, have tirelessly fought for his release and carried Maroon’s revolutionary message through the years, whether in solidarity with MOVE, Mumia Abu-Jamal, George Floyd, Walter Wallace Jr., or other struggles demanding justice. Move members are still imprisoned, he wrote, “just because we steadfastly refused to abandon our Belief in the Revolutionary Teachings of Move’s Founder” and because of “our refusal to bow down to this murderous, racist, sexist rotten-ass system”. While serving a five-year Move’s attorney gathered other witness evidence suggesting the fatal shot had come from the opposite direction – in other words, it was accidental “friendly fire”. In an attempt to evict them from the property, hundreds of officers had just stormed the building, pummeling it with water cannons and gunfire, and in the maelstrom a police officer had been killed and several other first responders injured. 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