05:12 GMT18 January 2021
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    MOVE family member Janine Africa told Radio Sputnik’s By Any Means Necessary that the horrors enacted by Philadelphia police on the MOVE family 35 years ago make any apology from city officials - like that recently proposed by the city’s then-mayor - insincere.

    “MOVE organization is not interested in any apology,” Africa told hosts Sean Blackmon and Jacquie Luqman Wednesday.

    “First of all, it’s not sincere. They are just [trying] to fool people into thinking that they are sincere and take that pressure off of them, because they don’t want people to see them for what they are: baby killers. They deliberately killed five children [on] May 13. They deliberately told them not to put the fire out. They deliberately shot the family members back in the house when they clearly saw them trying to carry the children out of the house,” she said.

    “So what is an apology for now? They don’t mean it. They just want to make people see them in a different light,” Africa added.

    MOVE is a Black liberation group founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1972 by John Africa and Donald Glassey. During the 1970s, MOVE family members lived in a communal house in Philadelphia. The members all adopted the last name Africa because they considered themselves to all be members of the same family. 

    Janine Africa was imprisoned following a police siege of the MOVE home in August 1978, when officers went into the home to force the family off the property. During the siege, police officer James Ramp was shot and killed, and despite the group’s assertion that Ramp was killed by gunshots from fellow officers, Janine, five men and three other women were sentenced to prison for murder. Janine was only freed in 2019 after spending almost 41 years in prison for a crime she says she did not commit.

    Thirty-five years ago, on May 13, 1985, after Janine had been in prison for 12 years, police dropped an incendiary bomb from a helicopter on members of the MOVE family who were still living in their home during a second siege attempt to remove them from the house. Police officers outside raked the building with more than 10,000 rounds of gunfire during the siege. 

    The bomb destroyed the MOVE house and 60 other houses in a predominantly Aftican-American neighborhood. Eleven MOVE members lost their lives, including founder John Africa and five children. One of the children burned to death was Janine’s son, Little Phil, who died at the age of 12. Janine also lost her three-week-old baby in a melee with police officers two years before the 1978 siege after police arrived at the MOVE home and began harassing members of the group. Janine’s baby, named Life, was trampled during the incident and died that same day.

    In an op-ed Sunday in the Guardian, former Philadelphia Mayor W. Wilson Goode Sr., who was in office when police dropped the bomb on the MOVE home in 1985, said that the city should formally apologize for the tragedy, noting that “after 35 years it would be helpful for the healing of all involved, especially the victims of this terrible event."

    “That way we can begin to build a bridge that spans from the tragic events of the past into our future. Many in the city still feel the pain of that day. I know I always feel the pain,” Goode wrote.

    “We are not fooled by these lies, by this deception,” Africa told Sputnik. “They meant to kill our family, and they’re not sorry about it. That’s why the day after he [Goode] murdered our family, he got on TV and said he takes full responsibility, and he would make the same decision again. And their own police commissioner said they saw the children as as much of a threat as the adults, so they’re not sorry about what they did.”

    “They’re sorry about the pressure that’s being put on them, and they’re trying to scam their way, whitewash their way out of this like they always do. And MOVE is not happy.”

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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