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Trump Is the Symptom, Not the Disease

Posted on May 14, 2017

By Chris Hedges

(Page 3)

Abu-Jamal was convicted of the 1981 murder of Daniel Faulkner, a white Philadelphia police officer. His trial was a sham. It included tainted evidence, suppressed defense witnesses, prosecution witnesses that contradicted their earlier testimony, a court-appointed lawyer, like most within the system, who was allotted few resources and had little inclination to defend his client, and a series of unconstitutional legal rulings by a judge out to convict the defendant. Terri Maurer-Carter, the stenographer at the trial, later signed an affidavit stating that during the trial she overheard the judge, Albert F. Sabo, say of Abu-Jamal, “Yeah and I’m gonna help ’em fry the nigger.” Sabo during his time on the bench sent 31 people to death row, more than any other judge in Pennsylvania. Abu-Jamal, who grew up in the housing projects of north Philadelphia, is imprisoned for our sins.

By 1977, Abu-Jamal, distressed by the internal feuding that tore apart the Black Panthers, had developed a close relationship with members of the Philadelphia MOVE organization. MOVE members lived communally, preached Third World radicalism, ate natural foods and denounced the established black leaders as puppets of the white, capitalist ruling elites.

The Philadelphia police, who constantly harassed the group, besieged the MOVE compound starting in late 1977. On Aug. 7, 1978, a gun battle erupted between people in the compound and police outside. A police officer was killed. Delbert Africa, a MOVE member, was savagely beaten in front of television cameras. Nine MOVE members would be charged with murder. The trial, like the one held four years later for Abu-Jamal, was a farce. It was clear, Abu-Jamal wrote of the legal lynching of the MOVE members, that “the law did not matter.” Two of the nine, Merle and Phil Africa, have died in prison. The seven other MOVE members remain, like Abu-Jamal, locked away and denied freedom by parole boards. Abu-Jamal was given life without parole after being taken off death row by the courts.

The Philadelphia police and the FBI were determined to root what remained of MOVE out of the city and do so with enough brutality to discourage any other black radicals from organizing.

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“On May 12 [the date the two-day-long attack began], Sunday, Mother’s Day of 1985, our home was surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of cops who came out there to kill not because of any complaints from neighbors but because of our unrelenting fight for our MOVE sisters and brothers known as the MOVE 9,” Ramona Africa told me in an interview last week. (Authorities, as one of their supposed justifications for acting against MOVE, cited neighborhood complaints about activities and conditions at the compound.) “We had been attacked and arrested in 1978. Thirty-nine years later, this August, they are still in prison. They became eligible for parole in 2008. The parole board just refuses to parole them.” [Chris Hedges’ interview with Ramona Africa begins at the 11-minute mark—click here for the video.]

“What people really need to understand is they did come out there [in 1985] to kill, not to arrest,” she said. “They could have arrested at any time. They did not come out there for any complaint from neighbors. Those running this country, this entire worldwide system, have never cared about black people complaining about their neighbors. It’s never been an issue. Obviously, it was something other than that. Which was our unrelenting fight for our family members who are still in prison. They shot over 10,000 rounds of bullets in on us within 90 minutes. They dropped a bomb.”

The bomb ignited a fire that burned down a city block containing 61 homes.


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