After the August 8th confrontation, MOVE's primary activity became securing the release of innocent members facing not only 30 - 100 year sentences, but the wrath of a vindictive prison system and it's abusive guards. Several members went on hunger strikes to obtain the basic rights other inmates received. Both the police department's callous attitude and MOVE's determination and commitment only intensified after Rizzo's January 1980 departure from office.
In January 1970 and again
in 1980, MOVE held large outdoor rallies on the anniversary of August 8th
to draw attention to the injustices the city continued to perpetrate.
MOVE also published their own newspaper,
the First Day, to correct widespread misconceptions.
According to MOVE belief,
one cannot expect to receive justice from a system that has none and continues
to demonstrate it blatant lack of justice time and time again. Nevertheless,
MOVE diligently appealed the August 8th convictions so as not to be accused
of abandoning the prescribed grievance procedures before taking a confrontational
Higher courts denied all appeals.
MOVE then sought to meet
with any city officials who would hear out their complaint against the
legal system. Common Pleas Court Presi- dent Judge Edward Bradley
admitted there were inconsistencies in the August 8th convictions but declined
to take any action. District At-
torney Ed Rendell outright refused to meet with MOVE or with lawyers willing to discuss the case on MOVE's behalf. Councilman Lucien Blackwell and city council chairman Joseph Coleman were noncom-
Beginning in 1982, MOVE
met several times with city managing direc-
tor Wilson Goode who entered and won the mayoral election during 1983. After reviewing MOVE's claims, Goode agreed that MOVE had been denied justice and promised to remedy the situation, but not until after he took office as mayor. Such words and promises from a politician meant nothing to MOVE. Based on his actions and deeds, Goode had turned his back on the injustice.
Charged with first degree
murder, Mumia maintained his innocence and, like MOVE members in trials
he had reported on, exercised his
constitutional right to argue his own case. The high-publicity trial was
presided over by Judge Albert Sabo who quickly denied Mumia's request to be represented by JOHN AFRICA. During jury selection, Mumia put
his well honed interview skills to use. As his impressive dignity and eloquence became apparent to prospective jurors, Sabo stripped Mumia of his right to conduct the defense and ordered the court appointed at-
torney, Anthony Jackson, to take over the case. Mumia then refused to participate in a blatant railroading and his version of the crime scene events was never recounted.
Some eyewitnesses saw
a man running from the scene who was never identified by police.
Others gave descriptions of the gunman that did not match Mumia's appearance.
The political nature of the case became apparent when prosecutor Joseph
Mcgill argued that Mumia deserved the death penalty because of statements
he made over 12 years earlier as a Black Panther spokesman. The jury,
from which over 10 Blacks were systematically excluded and on which two
returned a verdict of guilty and a sentence of death.
"MOVE'S AIM IS NOT TO MAKE ENEMIES BUT MOVE'S
AIM IS EQUALLY NOT TO COMPROMISE LIFE BECAUSE
WE ARE COMPELLED TO PROTECT LIFE, DOGS CATS
RATS FISH DIRT GRASS TREES BIRDS BEETLES WORMS
ARE ALL LIFE. FEEDING LIFE, PROTECTING LIFE,
KEEPING THE STREETS, THE EMPTY LOTS, THE PARKS
FREE OF SHARP OBJECTS THAT WILL HURT ANIMALS
AND PEOPLE IS AS MUCH AN OBLIGATION TO JOHN
AFRICA'S REVOLUTION AS FIGHTING THESE POLITICIANS."
Long hours of hard work
kept MOVE always on the move, and main- tained the strong family bond the
organization revered. Yet one of the most troubling ordeals during
the years on Osage Avenue was the task of comforting and reassuring the
children of imprisoned members, when the pain of separation from their
parents left them grief-stricken
A few weeks later Wilson
Goode took office as mayor. While many
Philadelphians were glowing with pride at the installment of the city's
first Black mayor, behind the scenes Goode reneged on his earlier pro-
mise to MOVE and took no action as another confrontation took shape.
Anticipating how far the city would go to silence them, MOVE began
fortifying their Osage Avenue home. Meanwhile, the police make preparations for a murderous assault by secretly obtaining from the FBI over 37 pounds of powerful military explosives "C-4", in violation of police regulations, FBI policies, and federal laws regarding the transfer of explosives.
As months wore on, news
stories began covering MOVE once again but focused on the Osage Avenue
neighbors' disagreements with MOVE rather than MOVE's long standing legal
dispute with the city. After MOVE held a meeting with Osage residents
in May of 1984 to explain
their position, police stepped up their intimidation and harassment campaign. Between June and October, Alfonso Africa was arrested and beaten bloody several times by police, and shot (non-fatally) during one
arrest. On August 8, 1984, hundreds of police and firemen spent the day surrounding the Osage block in what came to be viewed as a dry run for the later disaster, but MOVE would not be provoked. Frustration with city officials' inability to resolve the conflict, the Osage neighbors asked Governor Dick Thornburgh to intervene but he refused to get involved.
(and when he later headed the U.S. Justice Department, Thornburgh declined to investigate the very May 13, 1985 catastrophe he could have averted.)