31 May 2019

Janet and Janine Africa Paroled

Free All the MOVE Prisoners!

On May 25, MOVE members Janet Holloway Africa, 68, and Janine Phillips Africa, 63, walked out of prison on parole. Their release after more than 40 years in Pennsylvania dungeons follows the paroling of Debbie and Michael Africa Sr. last year. All of the MOVE 9 were jailed and sentenced to 30 to 100 years in 1978, framed up for the killing of a Philadelphia police officer during the cop siege of MOVE’s Powelton Village home. Despite being model prisoners, Janet and Janine had been repeatedly denied parole since 2008 for “lack of remorse.” Merle Africa and Phil Africa died in jail under suspicious circumstances. Chuck, Delbert and Eddie Africa are still behind bars. Free them now!

Soon after the predominantly black, radical back-to-nature MOVE commune emerged in the early 1970s, it became the target of vicious cop terror, not least because the group championed the right to armed self-defense. Janine’s infant son, Life, was trampled and killed in 1976 when police invaded the MOVE house and knocked her over, baby in arms. On 8 August 1978, after a months-long siege, nearly 600 cops surrounded the house to evict the residents. Police unleashed a barrage of gunfire, then stormed the home. One officer died in the cops’ own cross fire. At least eight witnesses testified that no gunshots came from the house. Weapons the cops said they found inside had no fingerprint of any MOVE member on them. The MOVE 9 were all innocent.

On 13 May 1985, Philadelphia police under black Democratic mayor Wilson Goode, in collusion with the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, dropped high-powered explosives on MOVE’s Osage Avenue home. Eleven people, including five children, were burned to death, and an entire black neighborhood was left in smoldering ruins. Among the dead was Janine’s son with Phil Africa, 12-year-old Little Phil; Janet lost her child Delicia in the inferno. For 34 years, the Spartacist League has sought to sear this premeditated racist state murder into the memory of the working class. Ramona Africa, imprisoned for the “crime” of being the sole adult survivor of the massacre, received support from the class-war prisoner stipend program of the Partisan Defense Committee, the class-struggle, non-sectarian legal and social defense organization associated with the SL. The MOVE 9 were also among the first PDC stipend recipients.

Crushing political dissent and terrorizing black people exemplify what cops get paid to do as enforcers of the capitalist order. It will take a workers revolution to relegate the capitalist state’s machinery of murderous repression to the dustbin of history.

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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1156, 31 May 2019)

Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.