Was MOVE an animal rights group?

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1996:

selection began April 2 for the
trial of MOVE activist
Ramona Africa’s damage suit
against the city of
Ramona Africa and her 13-
year-old son Birdie were the
sole survivors of the May 13,
1985 bombing by Philadelphia
police of the MOVE
headquarters, ending a 90-
minute siege during which the
police fired an estimated
10,000 rounds. MOVE members
had two pistols, two
shotguns, and a .22 rifle. Six
adults and five children were
killed; 61 homes burned.
The siege is widely noted
as a landmark in the history of
Afro-American militant conflict
with authority. Recent
accounts have often added the
claim that MOVE had an
“animal rights” orientation.
From the April 2 edition of
The New York Times:
“MOVE, an interracial
group founded in the early
1970s around the issues of
animal rights and police
brutality, preaches a backto-nature
The source of this information
seems to be Ramona
Africa herself, who has
claimed in recent writings
and lectures s that MOVE
was vegetarian and animal –
oriented. In an e-mail to
claimed MOVE in the
1970s led demonstrations,
purportedly violently repressed
by police, against
Canadian sealing, the
Philadelphia Zoo and
b a b o o n – h e a d – c r u s h i n g
experiments at the University
of Pennsylvania. She
also claimed MOVE
founder John Africa “did
more to stop dogfighting in
Rochester, New York,
than anybody else up
there,” without citing
specifics as to when or
Elaborating, MOVE
supporter Marpessa Kupendua
said MOVE had a “20-
year history of getting their
asses kicked while protesting
at zoos, circuses, and pet
stores,” and alleged online
that, “Dick Gregory stole his
entire [vegetarian] health
empire from the writings of
John Africa.”
However, A N I M A L
PEOPLE has so far found no
confirmation of these claims in
sources predating the bombing
• The electronic archives
of the Philadelphia Inquirer
and the Philadelphia Daily
News include extensive coverage
of MOVE, which was
locally prominent for more
than a decade before the
bombing, and was involved in
a 1978 shootout that killed a
police officer; nine MOVE
members drew 30 years to life
in prison. The only animalrelated
coverage, however,
pertains to neighbors’ complaints
about apparent animalcollecting,
which Ramona
Africa describes as rescuing,
involving the accumulation of
unneutered, un-vaccinated
dogs in filthy conditions.
• Contemporary animal
rights literature takes no notice
of MOVE, even in seeking
Afro-American links. T h e
Animals’ Agenda m a g a z i n e
apparently never mentioned
MOVE, despite the interest of
longtime staffers in cause linkage
and racial justice.
• Nothing about MOVE
appears in histories of animal
rights activism, including the
works of Rod Preece and
Lorna Chamberlain, David
Helvarg, Rik Scarce, Richard
Ryder, Lawrence and Susan
Finsen, James Jasper and
Dorothy Nelkin, and Andrew
• The extensive ANIMAL
P E O P L E files on the head
injury lab protests and on the
Philadelphia Zoo include nothing
mentioning MOVE.
• Anti-animal rights literature,
which seldom misses a
chance to link animal rights
views with fanaticism, takes
no notice of MOVE, either.
• MOVE did not rate a
mention in the 1993 U.S.
Department of Justice Report
on Animal Rights Terrorism.
Ambiguous references linking
MOVE to some animal
rights concerns were included
in a 1987 book about the
bombing, Burning Down The
House, by John Anderson and

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.