After almost 30 years, Ramona Africa said she is still fighting for her rights. She is a member of MOVE, a black liberation movement that was known for a “back to the earth” approach to living. This past Thursday, Oct. 31, Africa spoke to a small group of students and faculty in the Klein Law Building on Main Campus.
She said she has argued that she and her family were innocent since the Philadelphia police bombing of a row home where many MOVE members lived in Philadelphia on May 13, 1985.
The bombing killed 11 people, some of whom were children, and destroyed 61 homes nearby, not all of which were associated with MOVE. Africa is the sole living survivor of the bombing. The police force is said to have acted in response to neighbor complaints about the MOVE members.
Africa said the violence started after the death of a police officer. Nine of Africa’s brothers and sisters, which is how she referred to other MOVE members, were charged with third degree murder and conspiracy.
The shot, however, came from upstairs while the residents of the MOVE community were all in the basement, Africa said to the audience on Thursday.
There were series of days that lead up to the bombing where the cops would observe the house and leave peacefully, she recalled.
“If they were trying to arrest us, they would have done that a while ago,” Africa said in her recollections of the police presence prior to the bombing.
Africa insisted during her speech that MOVE is a peaceful organization. The government wanted them gone, she said, because they saw the group as a threat to the things they were doing.
“The goal of MOVE is to be peaceful and be an example,” Africa said.