Welcome Home Mike Africa!

Tiny - Posted on 08 November 2018

On October 23, 2018, MOVE 9 member Mike Africa was released from prison after 40 years of incarceration. Mike was released on parole from SCI Phoenix in Skippak Township. Mike was imprisoned since August 8, 1978, in relation to an altercation between the Philadelphia police and the MOVE Organization. Mike is one of 9 MOVE members, collectively known as the “MOVE 9,” who were convicted and sentenced to 30-100 years in prison following the altercation.


The MOVE 9 are innocent men and women who have been in prison since August 8, 1978, following a massive police attack on us at their home in the Powelton Village neighborhood of Philadelphia. This was seven years before the government dropped a bomb on MOVE, killing 11 people, including 5 babies. It has been 40 years since the August 8, 1978, police attack on MOVE, 25 years of unjust of imprisonmen. But despite the hardship of being separated from family members, despite the grief over the murder of family members (including babies), the MOVE 9 remain strong and loyal to their Belief in the teaching of MOVE founder, John Africa. Members of MOVE have an uncompromising commitment to their belief, which is what makes them a strong unified family, despite all that the government has done to break them up and ultimately try to exterminate them.


Mike’s wife Debbie Africa was also one of the MOVE 9. Debbie was eight months pregnant at the time of the incident and gave birth in jail to their son, Mike Africa Jr. Mike Sr. has been incarcerated for his son’s entire life and today was the first opportunity for the father and son to spend time together outside of prison. Mike Sr. and his wife Debbie maintained their relationship despite both being ncarcerated and separated from one another for 40 years. In June of this year, Debbie became the first member of the MOVE 9 to be released from prison. Today marks the first time that Mike Sr., Debbie and their son Mike Jr. have ever spent time all together.


But this struggle isn’t over. There are still MOVE members who remain behind the razor wires who deserve to be reunited with their families and loved ones. Mike Sr. has been eligible for parole since 2008 and went before the Pennsylvania Board or Probation and Parole (PBPP) for the tenth time in September of this year. Mike’s legal team submitted a packet in support of his parole petition, detailing Mike’s exemplary prison record, his educational accomplishments in prison and over 75 letters in support of parole. These included letters from religious leaders, retired DOC staff who knew him personally and former prisoners who described the positive influence Mike had on them. Mike also received recommendations for parole from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC), corrections expert and former DOC Secretary Martin Horn, and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.


Bret Grote, of Abolitionist Law Center, another lawyer for the MOVE 9, stated, “This historic release of Mike Africa renders the Parole Board’s decision to deny the rest of the MOVE 9 all the more incomprehensible. For example, Janet and Janine Africa have both maintained DOC records that are as exemplary as Mike’s and essentially identical to that of Debbie, yet they were inexplicably denied parole this past May.  Their attorneys have recently filed petitions for habeas corpus on behalf of Janet and Janine in federal court, challenging their parole denials.


In addition to Janet and Janine, three other members of the MOVE 9 remain incarcerated, and two, Merle Africa and Phil Africa, died in custody. All five surviving members of the MOVE 9 (Janet, Janine, Chuck, Eddie and Delbert Africa) have been eligible for parole since 2008 and have been repeatedly denied parole when appearing before the PBPP.


During the August 8, 1978 altercation, a Philadelphia police officer was killed. Following a highly politicized and controversial trial, the MOVE 9 was convicted of third-degree homicide. All nine were sentenced to 30-100 years in prison. Mike and Debbie have been in prison for a combined 80 years!  All for a crime they didn’t commit. Mike & Debbie Africa have been political prisoners since Aug 8, 1978. On June 16 after 39 years and 10 months, Debbie was released, and on October 22, after more than 40 years in prison, Mike was released. They have two kids together, including the child who was born in prison, as Debbie was 8 months pregnant at the time of her arrest. They had their life stolen from them for a crime they did not commit. Anything helps as they work to rebuild the life they had taken from them so very long ago.


This victory would not have been possible without the decades of organizing and advocacy spearheaded by the MOVE organization and their supporters. The decades-lonf struggle to free the MOVE 9, gives credence to the saying Ain’t No Power Like the Power of the People…Cause the Power of the People Don’t Stop!  POOR Magazine is proud to have been part of the struggle to free the MOVE 9 and we are also are honored to have utilized aspects of the MOVE organizations model for our Homefulness Project, a Poor and Indigenous Led Landless Peoples Movement. Poor remains committed to freeing our political prisoners.





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