Move Something! by Tom Jennings
[Review of the MOVE organisation UK tour and documentary, Star & Shadow Cinema, Newcastle upon Tyne, July 1st 2007, published in Freedom, Vol. 68, No. 15, July 2007]
Screenings of the rugged and raw ‘MOVE’ (2004) have been introduced at venues across the country by the revolutionary back-to-nature organisation’s ‘Minister of Communication’, Ramona Africa. Narrated by prominent radical historian Howard Zinn, film students Ben Garry and Ryan McKenna’s documentary atmospherically details the decades-old Philadelphia government and FBI persecution of the group. Escalating vicious harassment failed to silence their vocal class- and race-conscious environmentalism (itself far ahead of fashion) even after the ‘MOVE 9’ were framed for the murder of a cop during a 1978 siege – culminating in the deliberate slaughter of six unarmed adults and five children on 13th May 1985. When floods of water cannons, tear gas and automatic weapons fire failed to flush out and finish them off, a bomb dropped on their house from a helicopter burnt the whole Osage Avenue block to the ground. Emerging with her daughter as sole survivors, Ramona Africa promptly got seven years for riot.
Not surprisingly, MOVE has since concentrated on countering official and corporate media lies over these pivotal events, working for the release of those falsely imprisoned. The wider effort now encompasses the cases of MOVE supporter Mumia Abu Jamal (see update in Freedom, 2nd June), the American Indian Movement’s Leonard Peltier and various Black Panther and Black Liberation Movement stalwarts among countless other police and ‘justice’ system outrages. However, the fight against this particular ongoing judicial jihad soon reaches a critical phase with the MOVE 9’s impending parole hearings as their thirty-year minimum sentences expire. The authorities have recently been inclined to leave the organisation alone, given their admirably intransigent stance – but international vigilance and support are now more crucial than ever. Even so, despite understandable preoccupations, MOVE speakers scrupulously encourage and namecheck resistance against the capitalist system’s onslaughts around the world.
MOVE’s astonishing fortitude, courage and commitment facing the US state’s brutal duplicity stem from 1960s/70s Black activism and the sheer longevity of a struggle characterised by steadfast refusal to collude in domination or remain passive about it. Nevertheless their ideology is only indirectly political, being rooted in spiritual convictions concerning the rationality of instinct – with a resulting confusion of philosophy and science, humanity and animality, and truth and morality giving room for profound contradictions in theory and practice. But unlike many religious bigots, animal libbers, primitivist propagandists or eco-evangelists, MOVE members don’t hide behind hysterical, self-deluding, fanatical rhetoric. Simultaneously humble, open and uncompromising, they engage with anyone actively recognising the unifying force reflected in the campaign around political prisoners, articulated as a common cause anticipating grass-roots rebellious self-determination as the ultimate harbinger of any freedom worth the name.
* General information and news are available at www.onamove.com/ and www.onamove2007.org.uk/. The MOVE documentary can also be viewed online at www.brightcove.com/title.jsp?title=428944249&channel=219646953. The MOVE Organization’s postal address is P.O. Box 19709, Philadelphia, PA 19143, USA.