After reading the Nexus article about Ramona Africa (“Activist Gives Talk on Protest, U.S. Government, Daily Nexus, April 14), I was shocked by the apparently outrageous actions taken by the police during their May 13, 1985, clash with the MOVE Organization revolutionaries. It was tragic to read that a “two-day standoff ended when a police helicopter dropped a bomb of C4 on the roof [that sheltered the members of MOVE],” which killed 11 people, including five children. Why did this happen? Why was the government so callous? I was disgusted with the actions of the police until I did some research of my own about the incident.
In an April 2, 1996, article by Brian Jenkins, posted on CNN’s website, he states that the mayor of Philadelphia – the city in which the incident took place – “gave the go-ahead to drop four pounds of plastic explosives on the group’s rooftop gun turret.” Uh, excuse me? Oh, I’m sorry. I momentarily forgot that every respectable organization that calls for social change needs a rooftop gun turret! For two days, MOVE members exchanged gunfire with officers as they disregarded the safety of both their neighbors and their children. Hundreds of shots were fired by MOVE members who intended to kill, despite the group’s declaration that they are “respectful of all forms of life.” I guess “all forms of life” doesn’t include police officers of all races who have families of their own, not to mention the innocent neighbors and children who could have been caught in the crossfire.
Not that Africa and her group are strangers to hypocrisy. Africa states that “working within the legal system to fight the government is not the answer,” and that people should “boycott unnecessary public institutions … such as public education.” By not participating in public education as a form of protest, it is the children who are adversely affected. MOVE members have already displayed a reckless disregard for the welfare of their own children, involving some of them as participants in the 1985 clash with police. What were children doing there, anyway? What place did they have in a confrontation with police? Move members had two days to evacuate their children from the building before the bomb was dropped on the active gun turret, and they refused to do so.
Aside from this, Africa is a hypocrite. While she called for a boycott of government institutions, the article by Jenkins states that in regard to the 1985 incident, she “filed suit against the city … [She] contends that officials … should now have to pay.” Africa takes a moral stance against participating in government institutions, but she has no qualms about altering her ideals if money is involved. Although Africa would state otherwise, it sounds like she’d be right at home working with the other politicians in our government.
I am most definitely not condoning the actions that were taken by the Philadelphia Police Dept. – the 1985 incident should have been handled in a better way. The Nexus article depicted Africa and the members of the MOVE organization as victims, not the active participants that they actually were. The truth of the matter is that both sides were at fault: The police should have chosen to not drop the bomb. However, Africa and the members of MOVE should have chosen to not shoot at police with their newly installed rooftop gun turret.
Kevin Spradlin is a junior history major.