Police recorded early MOVE animal actions

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1996:

police surveillance records and a Philadelphia
Daily News clipping provided to ANIMAL
PEOPLE on September 27 by Arlette Liewer
of Den Hague, The Netherlands, document
that the Afro-American activist commune
MOVE held at least nine demonstrations presaging
the animal rights movement between
July 1973 and September 1974.
Most of the animal-related MOVE
protests came within days of the publication of
the books Man Kind?, by Cleveland Amory,
and Animal Liberation, by Peter Singer,
which are generally recognized as the founding
documents of the animal rights movement,
as distinguished from the ancestor humane,
antivivisection, and animal welfare movements.
Amory founded The Fund for Animals
later in 1974.

Liewer sent the police reports and
clipping in objection to the May 1996 A N IMAL
PEOPLE article “Was MOVE an animal
rights group?” She apparently obtained
the materials through Mumia Abu-Jamal, a
former Black Panther and Philadelphia radio
reporter who is appealing a 1982 death sentence
for allegedly killing police officer Daniel
Faulkner on December 9, 1981.
Found no trail
Investigating claims by MOVE
activist Ramona Africa and supporters that
MOVE was vegetarian and had an “animal
rights” orientation, ANIMAL PEOPLE
reported in May that neither Ramona Africa
nor anyone else echoing her claims had been
able to provide any documentary evidence predating
a passing reference in a 1987 book;
that longtime Philadelphia animal rights
activists were unable to recall any MOVE
involvement, including in the high-profile
campaign against University of Pennsylvania
head injury lab experiments on baboons with
which Ramona Africa had asserted specific
involvement; that the extensive P h i l a d e l p h i a
Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News c o v e rage
of MOVE from 1976 forward, accessible
online, included no mention of anything reasonably
construed as animal rights activism;
that MOVE was never mentioned in T h e
Animals’ Agenda, which commenced close
coverage of animal rights activity in 1981;
that MOVE was not mentioned in either seven
major histories or three major bibliographies
of the animal rights movement; that MOVE
was apparently never mentioned, either, in
anti-animal rights literature; and that MOVE
was not mentioned in the 1993 U.S.
Department of Justice Report on Animal
Rights Terrorism, even though––if MOVE
was animal rights-oriented––shootouts with
police in 1978 and 1985 would easily have
been the two most violent incidents in the history
of the animal rights movement. Nine
MOVE members drew 30-year-to-life prison
terms for their part in the 1978 shoot-out, in
which police officer James Ramp was killed.
The 1985 shootout ended when the
Philadelphia police dropped a bomb on the
MOVE headquarters, starting a fire that killed
six adults and five children, then spread to
raze 61 nearby homes.
Early demos
If MOVE had anything to do with
what later became called “animal rights”
activism before 1973 or after 1974, that activity
remains undocumented. On July 18, 1973,
however, 15 MOVE members led by a “Mr.
DeWitt” protested for reasons unclear from the
description of the event at the annual convention
of the American Veterinary Medical
Association. Six months later, on January 29-
30, 1974, “Gilbert Orr,” apparently the same
person later identified as Delbert Orr and
Delbert Africa, led 15 MOVE members in
two days of demonstrations outside Puppy
Palace, a pet shop. Protest signs also attacked
the Philadelphia Zoo, Liberty Bell Race
Track, and Devon Horse Show.
On May 29 and June 1, 1974,
MOVE assembled up to 25 demonstrators,
their biggest animal-related turnout, outside
performances by the Ringling Brothers &
Barnum and Bailey Circus. According to 2 0
Years On The Move, the history of the organization
distributed by Citizens In Support of
MOVE, the first of these protests came 11
days after members “Leeing and Janet Africa,
both pregnant at the time, were so brutally
beaten by [Philadelphia] police that they both
had miscarriages.” Janet Africa was listed as a
participant in the May 29 demonstration. The
three sign slogans recorded by the police
observers all included ambiguous references to
unspecified grievances going beyond the treatment
of circus animals, but did not mention
police beatings or a miscarriage. The one sign
that explicity mentioned either animals or a
specific issue reportedly read, “This is not just
a protest against Ringling Brothers Circus, but
against the sadistic exploitive system mentality
that permits and encourages this vicious mistreatment
of life.”
On June 13, 1974, MOVE protested
at the Philadelphia Zoo. A third demonstration
against the Ringling Brothers and Barnum
and Bailey circus came three days later. Two
weeks after that, on July 1, 1974, MOVE
protested in the afternoon at the zoo and in the
evening at the Devon Horse Show. On July 3,
the last of the police reports in the stack
Liewer forwarded reported that a protest was
held, for reasons unclear, at the Western
Savings Bank at the corner of Broad and
Chestnut Streets in Philadelphia. As at most
of the other demonstrations, Delbert Africa
was described as coordinator, and the participant
count was 15. This was the only one of
the demonstrations at which MOVE founder
John Africa was identified as present. Ramona
Africa was not identified as a participant in
any of the demonstations.
Under the headline “A Monkey’s
Uncle,” Philadelphia Daily News TV columnist
Tom Fox on September 19, 1974
described one more MOVE protest involving
animals, occurring the preceding day, when
six members led by Delbert Africa handcuffed
variety show host Mike Douglas during a
videotaping session, to protest the handcuffing
and drugging of a chimpanzee who went
berserk during a previous taping. Fox hinted
that producer Owen Simon knew in advance
what was going to happen––or at least that
something was going to happen.
Why MOVE was not visibly
involved in the rapid rise of the animal rights
movement after 1974 is unclear. Perhaps documentation
of further animal-related protest
will surface; perhaps the organization was
preoccupied with other activities. Sporadic
violent conflicts with police apparently
became markedly more frequent in 1975. 2 0
Years On The Move asserts that police beatings
caused two more MOVE members to miscarry
in 1975 and 1976, and that police
stomped to death the three-week-old child of a
member in April 1976, claiming afterward
that the child never existed because she had
been born without a birth certificate.
A federal court jury on June 24
ordered Philadelphia to pay Ramona Africa
and the estates of John Africa and MOVE
member Frank James Africa $1.5 million in
damages for the May 1985 bombing of the
MOVE house. Then-police commissioner
Gregoire Sambor and then-fire chief William
Richmond were each ordered to pay the plaintiffs
$1 a week for 11 years, to remind them of
their part in the deaths of the 11 MOVE members
who were killed. Ramona Africa’s son
Birdie Africa was earlier awarded $1.7 million
in a separate verdict. On August 28, Federal
District Judge Louis Pollak overturned the
penalties against Sambor and Richmond, on
grounds their actions were not undertaken with
malicious intent and did not wilfilly violate
orders from superiors. Ramona Africa
appealed the reversal on September 27.
On October 1, a review of new evidence
in the Abu-Jamal case began, by order
of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Original
trial judge Albert Sabo was called out of retirement
to preside. Veronica Jones, a 1982
defense witness, testified that she had altered
her testimony to deny seeing two other possible
suspects fleeing the scene where police
officer Faulkner was murdered. “At the time
of the original trial,” reported Don Terry for
The New York Times, Jones “was a 21-yearold
prostitute with two small children and several
felonies in an unrelated case,” who “after
receiving visits from police detectives in her
home and in jail,” said she changed her story
and subsequently drew probation for her own
convictions. After Jones gave her October 1
testimony, she was arrested for allegedly trying
to pass a hot check in 1994 at a liquor store
in Woodbury, New Jersey. Abu-Jamal’s
attorney, Leonard Weinglass, denounced the
arrest as intimidation.
Delbert Africa was among the nine
MOVE members convicted in connection with
the killing of police officer James Ramp. He
remains in prison.

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