Living Against The System: On a Move

A member, Ramona Africa, talks about MOVE as an organization, its founder and the unfortunate state of affairs concerning MOVE 9.

The MOVE Organization is a Philadelphia-based black liberation group of strong, serious and deeply committed revolutionaries that preaches revolution and advocates a return to nature lifestyle. MOVE was founded by a Black man named John Africa. MOVE’s main belief is the importance of life, respect to all living things and the force that gives life.

On May 13th, 1985, MOVE had their homes in Philadelphia destroyed by bombs which were thrown by the police from a helicopter. The resulting explosions ignited a wild fire which consequently destroyed about 65 nearby houses. The attack left eleven people dead, including John Africa, 5 adults and 5 children, and about 250 people homeless. Today, we are happy to have the interview with Ramona Africa, one of the two survivors of that dreadful genocide-style attack.
Hello, Ramona! Good to talk to you! Please, tell me a little about yourself. How did you join MOVE?
Ramona Africa
Well, I have to say I’m the least likely suspect to be a revolutionary. I grew up as a young Black girl in Philadelphia. I graduated with two degrees, one in political science and an associate degree in criminal justice. My intention was to become an attorney. I was on my way to law school when I encountered the MOVE organization in the spring of 1979. I got to visit them in prison and saw what was going on. I was shocked, amazed and very disillusioned with the legal system based on what I actually saw. I ended up in the MOVE organization as a MOVE member rather than going to school to be a lawyer.
What caused the May 13th attack on MOVE?
Ramona Africa
One of the first things I would like to say is that the government, through the news media tried to convince people that what happened on the 13th of May, 1985 happened because some neighbors had complaints about MOVE. That is a blatant lie. What was really behind the May 13th brutal attack on me and my family is our unrelenting fight for the release of MOVE 9 who have been imprisoned since 1978 for a murder that they didn’t commit.
You are talking about the incident that happened back in 1978 when a police officer, James Ramp, was shot and killed and the members of MOVE were sentenced. Who really killed James?
Ramona Africa
Well, we don’t know. All we know is that MOVE people didn’t. And what we know is that MOVE is not imprisoned for the death of Ramp. Because first of all, if government officials really believed that MOVE killed Ramp, they would never have destroyed MOVE headquarters, the scene of the crime where they alleged that MOVE people shot and killed James Ramp. Within hours of arresting our family, they had the whole crime scene demolished. Secondly, James Ramp was hit by a bullet traveling at a downward angle. The cops even admitted that MOVE people were all in the basement of our home. James Ramp was standing on street level facing our home. How could MOVE people in a basement six feet below him shoot him from a downward angle? Whoever shot him was above him not below him. And finally, MOVE 9 had what is known as a bench trial, meaning a trial by the judge alone and not a jury. Judge Edward Malmed set through that entire trial, heard all of the testimony and MOVE people didn’t really get a chance to put on a defense side because judge Malmed threw them all out of the courtroom. At the end of the trial, judge Malmed convicted each one of the MOVE 9 for the murder of James Ramp. A few months later, he sentenced them to 30 years minimum and 100 years maximum in prison.
What are you doing to try to get them released?
Ramona Africa
Our family has filed numerous appeals laying out clearly valid issues concerning their innocence because it is very obvious that a legal argument is not what is going against our family’s innocence. We take our fight to the people, to the streets because MOVE people are not the only innocent people imprisoned. We take our fight to the people to motivate and encourage them not to accept what this system is trying to shove down their throats, because it is wrong. Another thing that we have been doing and will continue to do is keeping worldwide pressure on. We have people from France, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Italy and South America that contact the parole board letting them know that they are being watched. That people know about MOVE and are watching the situation and know that MOVE is innocent. And that they need to release MOVE people. We’ve been doing that and we will continue to do that, but we are also staying in the streets informing people of what’s happening with MOVE. That they are still imprisoned for the crime they didn’t commit. We confront politicians about MOVE whenever they campaign in our area. You are in Philadelphia, in the city where our family was bombed and our babies even burnt alive. What do you intend to do about that? So we keep the information out there. Every August 8th to commemorate the police attack on MOVE that led to the MOVE 9 being imprisoned 39 years ago and every May 13th to commemorate the bombing of our family, we do an event to call attention to what happened on both dates and to keep it out there.
Can you tell us about John Africa and what he stood for.
Ramona Africa
John Africa is a Black man who founded MOVE organization. He brought people together from different races, social and economic backgrounds. He brought us together with one common belief and that belief is in life. The belief that nothing is more important than life. Because those running the system train people to think that the priorities are money, status in the system, maintaining the status quo, what kind of car you drive, what kind of house you live in, how many diamonds you have and so on. None of those things are important. You can’t eat and drink them. I don’t care how much champagne you can afford to buy and drink. You have Mother Nature’s water, you have the food of life that Mother Nature pushes up through the Earth or blossoms on trees. You cannot breathe, drink or eat diamond or dollar bills. If the richest person in the world has an asthma attack or a heart attack, they don’t scream for a bundle of dollar bills, they scream for oxygen. This is who John Africa is. This is what he taught us as to why life is so important, including animal life. That is what John Africa had opened our eyes to and taught us to respect and be protective of all living things.
It is a pleasure to have you here with us. And we admire your inspiration to keep on because it is a long fight.
Ramona Africa
Oh, a never ending fight.
What do you want our followers to know about your organization?
Ramona Africa
Well, first I would like our contact information to be included in anything about us:
People can contact MOVE at this number 2674087802
You can e-mail us [email protected] where LLJA is for long live John Africa.
People can check out our website which is
And in terms of any message, if we have a spouse, children, sisters, brothers, a mother or a father, we cannot afford to just throw our hands up and act like everything is ok, everything is not ok. Cops are shooting people down in the streets daily or water is being poisoned like in Michigan. Our food, what is supposed to be food is genetically modified by this system. As if the Mother of Life doesn’t know what she is doing and some scientists know better. How arrogant is that? That is what we want people to focus and understand that we don’t have a choice but to stand up and fight back for our own preservation.

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