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Posted: 9/17/2002 4:33:23 PM EDT
Setting up for bloodbath numbber three and the city is just letting them do it. At the time of the 2nd incident, I was training LEO's for a living and the National Association of Chief's of Police sent the local CBS affiliate to talk to me. The talking head spent an hour trying to get me to say it was the PD's fault that a block of the city had been burned down. Eventually, they gave up on me and gave me about 3 minutes of air time discussing "proper procedure" when under fire. [url]http://www.philly.com/mld//philly/news/local/4088896.htm[/url] Posted on Tue, Sep. 17, 2002 MOVE fortifies its house By Thomas J. Gibbons Jr. Inquirer Staff Writer WILLIAM F. STEINMETZ / Inquirer MOVE leader Ramona Africa (right), with other members at their house in West Philadelphia. A judge has authorized visitation rights for the father of a boy whose mother is a MOVE member. Africa said the situation was 'critical.' The radical group MOVE is fortifying its sprawling, stone twin home in West Philadelphia, apparently readying itself to defy a court order over a parent's visitation rights. The dispute stems from an order issued this summer in Common Pleas Court authorizing new visitation rights for the father of 6-year-old Zachary Africa, whose mother, Alberta Africa, is a MOVE member. The court permitted the boy's father, John Gilbride, who lives in New Jersey, to have custody of Zachary on alternate weekends. MOVE members contend that Gilbride - who could not be reached for comment - has been physically and mentally abusive to the boy. "This government knows how we feel about our children," said Ramona Africa, a MOVE leader. MOVE has a volatile history. It has been involved in two deadly standoffs with police in two other West Philadelphia neighborhoods. The tiny group adheres to an anarchistic, antitechnology, back-to-nature philosophy. As she stood inside a chainlink fence at the 4504-06 Kingsessing Ave. property yesterday, Ramona Africa declared that "this situation now, it's very critical." While she spoke, male MOVE members busily cut up a pile of pallets stacked on grass alongside the sidewalk in front of the three-story home to make boards for windows, while others carried in sacks of provisions. The first- and third-floor windows were covered by boards. In the unboarded second-floor windows of the house fronting leafy Kingsessing Avenue, a block of big twins that dead-ends on spacious Clark Park, lace curtains swayed in the breeze through open shutters. Asked why the home was being fortified, Ramona Africa replied: "That's our strategy. It's just MOVE's strategy. We've been letting people know there's a serious situation developing here." She declined to say whether the fortifications were designed for a standoff. MOVE has been living in relative harmony with neighbors. Police said MOVE members apparently began boarding up the property over the weekend after some members, including Alberta Africa, were unable to meet Thursday at City Hall with Mayor Street over the court order. The group instead was given an audience with two city officials, including Police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson. Capt. William Fisher, head of the police Civil Affairs unit, met with Ramona and Pam Africa over the fence at the house yesterday. "We're going to try and keep the lines of communication open on this," Fisher said. MOVE's last fortified home, at 6221 Osage Ave., also in West Philadelphia, was the scene of a violent clash on May 13, 1985, that left 11 people, including five children, dead inside the house and destroyed 61 other homes. An early-morning gunfight broke out after hundreds of police officers surrounded the rowhouse to serve arrest warrants on members of the group. That afternoon, Philadelphia police dropped a bomb from a state police helicopter onto the house's roof to destroy a rooftop bunker. The bomb started a fire that went out of control. Only two people, Ramona Africa and a young boy, emerged alive from the burning house. In a previous confrontation in 1978 at another fortified MOVE compound in Powelton, Philadelphia Police Officer James Ramp was shot and killed when police sought to evict the group from the house. Nine MOVE members were convicted of murder in the shooting. Johnson said yesterday that he had spoken on the telephone to Pam Africa and had assured her that police would not initiate a confrontation. "I promised them that the Philadelphia Police Department will not come to their home and have any sort of confrontation, especially over a matter that's still in the court," Johnson said. "Hopefully, we'll never have an incident like 1978 or 1985." He said he had provided Pam Africa with his beeper and office numbers. Judges involved in the custody case could not be reached for comment yesterday because of the Yom Kippur holiday. Suzanne Ross, a clinical psychologist in New York City who was hired by Alberta Africa and began treating Zachary three years ago as divorce and custody problems between the Gilbrides were being ironed out, said that Family Court Judge Edward Rosenberg had charge of the case and "never saw fit to allow the father to see the child in an unsupervised setting." However, when Rosenberg retired recently, a new judge was assigned: Common Pleas Court Judge Shelley Robins New, Ross said, who reversed Judge Rosenberg. Contact Thomas J. Gibbons Jr. at 215-854-2642 or tgibbons@phillynews.com.
Link Posted: 9/17/2002 6:15:04 PM EDT
Well, dude, if all of Philly suddenly burned to the ground, I wouldn't shed any tears. For years I've been following the stories of Philly's decline--thousands of abandoned buildings that fall down due to neglect, tens of thousands of abandoned cars (the city finally had a push to tow them away). The problem with Philly? Big government. The people who worked and paid the taxes to keep the city rolling finally got tired of supporting the majority who didn't work or pay taxes. Someday, maybe, Philly will undergo a renaissance.
Link Posted: 9/17/2002 6:18:41 PM EDT
I feel bad for the LEO's who are going to have to go in and mop this up. Bad scene....
Link Posted: 9/17/2002 6:21:15 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/17/2002 6:22:27 PM EDT
Trickshot - Philly has undergone quite a change in the last 10 years or so. The "white flight" pretty much stopped (I live outside the city, myself) and there is significantly more business growth then there had been for a long time. It's not the decrepit pile of crap it was in the 70's and 80's, but it still has a lot of problems, most of which aren;t a function of "bug" government, as much as they are a functionof the current elected government.
Link Posted: 9/17/2002 6:27:23 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/17/2002 6:30:06 PM EDT by DavidC]
Aimless - Actually Philly was only the second city in America to bomb itself. The Chicago PD, under the direction of the first Mayor Daily, dropped an explosive device on protesters outside the Democratic National Convention, in, I believe, 1968. Philly however, was the only city that tried to burn itself down at the direction of the city manager at the time, Gen Leo Brooks, whowas the man on the scene for the mayor, Wilson Goode. Unsurprisingly, the mayor and city manager tried to blame the whole fiacsco on the chief of police. The fire chief wouldn't let his men go in to fight the fire while therer were still being shots fired from the MOVE compound. So the block burned. And the city government, which of whom the leaders were of the same ethnicity as the MOVE members, blamed everything on the police chief, who belonged to a different ethnic group.
Link Posted: 9/17/2002 6:30:54 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/17/2002 6:39:51 PM EDT
so nice to know that ed rendell is running for governer of pennsylvania. ...why can't you people take care of the local hacks before they suffer delusions of grandeur.
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