And you call me a hate teacher. Why, you taught us to hate ourselves. You taught the world to hate a whole race of people…
Kwame Ture said to white youths who came down to Mississippi and Alabama to organize with SNCC: Go back home. Educate and organize whites, and let Blacks educate and organize the people to fight for their own freedom. Let those who have been denied their human and civil rights fight for it. But educate the white community about white supremacy. Organize them to fight against white supremacy. Collectively, there would be an united front of freedom fighters and anti-war, anti-imperialist white progressives.
And you know what happened? Progress! The rhetoric of Black power frightened many young whites who went home only to adapt to the very real white power structure: A new era of “law and order,” in which the government legislated a strategy of prohibition specifically targeting Black Americans. We uphold our laws and the order of white over Black! Black politicians rhetorically calling for unity in the presence of Black (predominantly Democratic!) voters, behind closed doors, agreed to the new era’s agenda of law and order.
In Philadelphia, Frank Rizzo became Police Commissioner from 1968-1972 on the “iron fist” platform. According the independent journalist Hans Bennett, Rizzo boasted his police force would be “so repressive that he’d make Attila the Hun look like a faggot” (“Attention MOVE! This is America”). Rizzo was fair: He targeted the entire Black community, but he had a particular hatred for MOVE and its members.
Rizzo’s “iron fist” philosophy remained in effect.
In Jailhouse Lawyers, Mumia Abu Jamal recalls MOVE’s “distinctly multiracial” membership.
It would not be odd, from a MOVE perspective, to see Chinese MOVE mothers, Puerto Rican MOVE fathers, or white MOVE daughters. According to John Africa’s worldview, MOVE wasn’t nationalist but naturalist, open in principle to all human beings.
Such an arraignment, an ordering of people, defies the new era of law and order.
With Rizzo in power, repression focused on Black Philadelphians and MOVE especially suffering under a barrage of home raids, police automatic weapons and arrest, “the white faces, the Chinese faces, the brown faces quietly, often tearfully-yet fearfully-disappeared from the front lines,” writes Mumia.
In 1981, with the arrest of John Africa, co-founder, Donald Glassey waved the white flag and testified against Africa and MOVE. Mumia writes, “Glassey later admitted to wearing a body wire for the government in an attempt to set up other MOVE members.”
John Africa represented himself and the jury found him not guilty. But that would not be the end of attacks on an independent-thinking group of Black Americans known as MOVE.
At the height of Ronald Reagan’s reign, and, despite the election of the city’s first Black Mayor, Wilson Goode, the Philadelphia Police Department was determined to put an end to the organization.
On May 13, 1985, police and bomb squads arrived at 6221 Osage. The voice on the loudspeaker said, “This is America!” As Bennett writes in “An ‘Unconscionable’ Act: Remembering May 13, 1985”:
The two bomb squads repeatedly detonated explosives in the side walls, and then destroyed the front of the house. But the confrontation came to a standstill by the afternoon, with MOVE still inside.
Where’s Mayor Wilson Goode?
Linn Washington, Philadelphia Tribune columnist and Temple University Professor discovered that a MOVE member not present in the house, Jerry Africa, “attempted to negotiate with Mayor Goode during the standoff.” Jerry Africa, civil rights activist Randolph Means, and former Common Please Court Judge Robert Williams, writes Bennett, tried to reach Goode repeatedly by phone.
He [Jerry Africa] wanted to tell Goode that MOVE would disengage from the confrontation if Goode would agree to an investigation of the Aug. 8, 1978-related MOVE convictions.
Mayor Goode “would not take their call.” But the first Black mayor of Philadelphia held a press conference to declare “he was now ready “to seize control of the house…by any means necessary.”
No, this is not Malcolm! This is law and order at work.
The afternoon standstill ended when Philadelphia police dropped a C-4 bomb on the home, which started a fire that authorities allowed to burn. According to Bennett, the bomb was “illegally supplied by the FBI” (“Attention MOVE! This is America”). By the end of May 13, 1985, the police assault had killed 5 children and 6 adults, including John Africa.
I see 2337 West Monroe, in the city where I was born and raised, Chicago. 1969. Dozens of Chicago Police working with the FBI forcefully entered the home there, firing and executing a sleeping Fred Hampton. Mark Clark was able to respond with one shot after police entered the home. In Philadelphia, years later, Police Commissioner Gregor Sambor used the same line of defense: MOVE fired first with automatic weaponry! However, “the only weapons found in MOVE’s house were two pistols, a shotgun, and a .22 caliber rifle: no automatic weapons.”
The MOVE Commission concluded that the women, children and at least two of the men may have been in the basement and, most likely, they were burned alive or shot by police as they tried to exit the house. Yes, police fired at the residents as they tried to escape! It is also possible that 1 or 2 of the men died in the morning before the bomb was dropped on the house. Bennett writes, the “police used over 10,000 rounds of ammunition, including 4,500 rounds from M-16s; 1,500 from Uzis; and 2,240 from M-60 machine guns.”
Some 60 homes in the Black middle class neighborhood were destroyed. Ramona Africa, the remaining survivor, who barely escaped and who suffered severe burns, was charged, writes Bennett, with conspiracy to riot and “multiple counts of single and aggravated assault.” Survivors of the police assault at 2337 West Monroe in Chicago received similar charges: aggravated assault and attempted murder of those who forcefully entered their home to kill.
Ramona Africa served 7 years of a 7 year sentence, refusing to renounce-she must renounce-herself, her family, her people-MOVE in exchange for parole. In the 1986 trial, Ramona told Bennett, jurors were told that they would hear of “wrongdoing” by the police and other government officials at another trial.
Don’t worry about that now. Focus on this Black American!
And, of course, another trial focusing on white “wrongdoing” never materialized. As Ramona says, “not a single official, police officer, or anybody…has ever been held accountable for the murder of my family.”
The corporate media, the propaganda arm of the government, teaches one and all to consider those Black Americans who want to feed Black children, who want to educate them to defend their spirit and guard themselves against police assaults a vicious lot of criminals. They refuse to adapt to the policies of the “iron fist” on the Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, Muslim, poor, and working class. How do you deal with the memory of this crime against a people by its government? Do you ignore it, pretend it never happened, lockstep into law and order stupor?
The events of May 13, 1985 resulted in the deaths of 11 people, but exposed that for many whites and, Blacks who capitulate, Black Americans are never entitled to think and exist outside a system of thought and behavior that defames them. The Martin Luther King who spoke of dreams was fine, but the King who spoke of American aggression and violence, America’s pursuit of oil and other material resources at the expense of Black equality had to be silenced.
I will close with “An Open Letter to Steven Marche of Esquire,” May 8, 2009, written by rapper, Prodigy, from prison. I will quote from a photo copy of his handwritten letter in which Prodigy responds to Marche’s charge that white supremacy is nothing more than a “conspiracy theory.”
The fact is Mr. Marche, the conspiracy to physically and mentally enslave the Black race so that these European vampires and their offspring can live like Kings and Queens in the ‘New World,’ is very much so fact, not theory…
So this conspiracy affects the entire population of the planet. It’s far from ‘toxic paranoia and narcissism’ that you claim it to be in your article, Mr. Marche…
This isn’t some delusion of personal persecution. No, this is very real and factual global persecution of people’s mind’s, body’s, and soul’s (sic)…
Their game of covert, physical and mental slavery is so deeply inbedded (sp) in our society and subconscious minds, that (sic) it now run’s on auto-pilot. We all actually do their job for them by submitting to a poisonous way of life…
If each person would commit to a personal change of their own bad habits, to a more healthy, inteligent (sp) way of life, we would see our world transform into a much better place…
It’s time to wake up a[nd] start living an American reality…
I forgive you for your ignorance and contradictions, after all, we’re working on ‘fixing ourselves’ aren’t we? Peace-Prodigy
Asante Sana, Prodigy!