January 8, 1986 |
The woman whose angry voice blared over a loudspeaker at the Osage Avenue MOVE house last spring is an articulate, hard-working advocate in court this week. Ramona Africa, who won the right to defend herself Monday in her assault trial stemming from the May 13 MOVE confrontation, works most of the day and night preparing arguments. She lost her request to have search and arrest warrants excluded from evidence yesterday, but in mid-November successfully argued that charges stemming from an incident before the confrontation should be dropped.
May 7, 2010
LOUISE James and LaVerne Sims are sisters of MOVE founder John Africa, and it was their home that the police bombed on May 13, 1985. Louise James also lost her son Frank James Africa, in the conflgration that day. Louise James, a former Bell Telephone operator, owned the house at 6221 Osage Ave. and had lived there for about 26 years until 1983. MOVE members arrived in 1980 or 1981. Neighbors recall that Frank James reportedly had chased his mother from the house with a hatchet or a club.
May 8, 1996 |
In dispassionate tones, a Philadelphia deputy medical examiner testified yesterday that MOVE founder John Africa and his nephew Frank James Africa died quickly from the fire raging around them inside their compound 11 years ago. The pathologist, Dr. Ian Hood, said the evidence suggested that the pair "died rather rapidly, i.e. within a few seconds or a minute or two . . . a minute is probably a reasonable estimate. " But during those last moments, Hood said, the two men knew they were dying from the superheated smoke they were inhaling.
May 12, 1996 |
What's the cash value of MOVE founder John Africa's life? That macabre question is at the center of a bizarre battle of accountants and lawyers in the MOVE trial, with hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake. Once a messianic figure who railed against the system, Africa is now the subject of esoteric arguments, arcane calculations and expert opinions aimed at reckoning how much the City of Philadelphia should have to pay for starting the fire that killed him 11 years ago. The plaintiffs in the civil case - Ramona Africa, a survivor of the blaze, and relatives of John Africa and of another MOVE member who died - say the case is about justice.
May 6, 2010 |
THE POLITICAL hellfires of the 1960s - like a lot of things - came a little late to Philadelphia. In the case of the radical group MOVE and the inferno that it sparked, the flaming embers have never fully burned out. The beginnings seemed unremarkable. In 1972, a militant student activist named Donald Glassey came to Philadelphia from the Michigan State campus as a grad student and social worker. One of the people he met in his Powelton Village neighborhood was a 41-year-old handyman with a third-grade education named Vincent Leaphart, who was known as something of a street-corner philosopher.
May 4, 1988 |
MOVE, the radical cult few understand, was born of the friendship between a white former college teacher and a black handyman who had only a third-grade education but a keen interest in philosophy. The late Vincent Leaphart, the handyman, moved into the Powelton Village apartment of Donald Glassey, the former college teacher, in January 1972, and they began writing an 800-page "Book of Principles," which outlined Leaphart's beliefs. Before the end of 1972, Leaphart was calling himself John Africa and had recruited several members for his group, which first was called the Christian Movement for Life, then Community Action Movement and, finally, MOVE.
June 6, 1996 |
Strained relations between Ramona Africa and her fellow plaintiffs in the MOVE trial erupted into shouts yesterday as Africa and the others accused each other of being traitors to MOVE founder John Africa. Just before jurors had taken their seats for the day, Louise James and Laverne Sims, both sisters of John Africa, suddenly began quarreling furiously with Ramona Africa. During the exchange, James cursed Africa, Africa snapped at the sisters, and Sims rejoined venomously: "Save it for the press!"
January 15, 2015 |
PHIL AFRICA, a high-ranking member of the black-liberation group MOVE, died Saturday at the Pennsylvania Correctional Institution at Dallas, according to NBC10. No cause of death was given, and remaining members of the group were quick to say he died under "suspicious circumstances. " His age could not be determined. Africa (all members of MOVE adopted the surname) was one of the "MOVE 9," members imprisoned after a shootout at the group's former headquarters in Powelton Village in 1978, in which Police Officer James Ramp was shot to death.
January 5, 1994 |
Issuing key rulings on the remaining federal lawsuits stemming from the 1985 MOVE disaster, a federal judge yesterday gave relatives of two slain MOVE members, including founder John Africa, the right to sue the city. U.S. District Judge Louis Pollak ruled that six brothers and sisters of John Africa, who was killed at age 53, should have their day in court on their civil suit charging the city with excessive force in the siege. John Africa's headless body was found in the rubble of the MOVE house after the disaster.
May 16, 1996 |
How much are the lost earnings of two men who didn't hold jobs for years? The jury in the MOVE civil case will have to wrestle with this question if it decides the city must pay monetary damages to the families of fire victims John Africa and his nephew, Frank James Africa. Yesterday, the federal judge in the case ruled that jurors will get to hear a novel argument on how much MOVE leader John Africa would have earned if he was the paid executive director of MOVE. Of course, the cult had a simple communal lifestyle and no one, including the founder, got a salary.