Joseph Coleman, Lucien Blackwell and his wife Jannie in front of the body of baby Life Africa (April 2nd 1976)
On March 28, 1976, seven jailed MOVE members were released late in the evening and arrived home after midnight. Officers in at least ten police cars and wagons pulled up in front of the 33rd Street house and said MOVE was creating a disturbance.
When Chuck Africa told police to leave MOVE alone, Officer Daniel Pal-ermo grabbed him and began to beat him as other cops pulled out nightsticks and set upon MOVE members. Six MOVE men were arrested and beaten so viciously they suffered fractured skulls, concussions and chipped bones. Robert Africa was struck over the head with a nightstick that broke in two from the force of the blow. Janine Africa was trying to protect her husband Phil Africa, when she was grabbed by a cop, thrown to the ground with 3-week old Life Africa in her arms, and stomped until she was nearly unconscious. The baby's skull was crushed.
The next morning, MOVE notified the media that the police had brutally attacked them and that a baby had been murdered. An officer's hat and the broken nightstick were displayed outside MOVE headquarters. Police denied that any beatings took place or that a baby was killed, and claimed that the baby probably never existed because there was no birth certificate. They then arrested the member who had shown the hat and nightstick to the press, on charges of receiving stolen property. To prove the death to a skeptical media, MOVE invited the press and local politi-cians to dinner at their headquarters. Those accepting the invitation included city councilmen Joseph Coleman and Lucien Blackwell, and Blackwell's wife, Jannie. After the meal, the guests were shown the baby's body. (Jannie Blackwell herself was later elected to city council in 1991.)
MOVE's column in the Philadelphia Tribune, which had documented the birth of Life Africa 3 weeks earlier, ran a series of pieces covering the March 28th attack. Interviews with several neighbors who had witnessed the incident were featured. Yet no charges were filed against the officers involved in the baby's murder. In-stead the District Attorney's office pursued prosecution of the six MOVE members arrested that night. MOVE was prepared to present evidence of a long-standing Rizzo-directed campaign of harassment that culminated in the death of Life Africa. But before all the testimony could be presented, Judge Merna Marshal dismissed the case, thereby thwarting the chance to prove a citywide conspiracy against MOVE in a court of law. Dismissing felony charges of aggravated assault on cops was virtually unheard of in Philadelphia.
Move… Who they are ?
"Video / 6 min / Couleur" ©2011 - "In Prison My Whole Life" de Marc Evans