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Two of the Move Nine released from Philadelphia jail after 40 years

THE last two women of the Move Nine were released from prison at the weekend after over 40 years behind bars.

Janet and Janine, who both took the surname Africa along with other members of the Move black liberation and environmental group in the 1970s, were jailed in 1978 alongside seven comrades following a police raid on the commune where the group lived.

Police officer James Ramp was killed in the confrontation, but Move members maintain that they had no working firearms at the time and eyewitness reports suggested that the officer had been accidentally killed by police fire. 

Their lawyer Brad Thomson said: “I can say on their behalf that they are excited to be released and to be able to be with their community and loved ones outside of prison.

“They are appreciative of all the support that they have received over the years throughout the area and around the world.”

The releases follow those of Debbie Africa and her husband Michael Africa senior last year. The couple had been prevented from seeing each other for the whole of their 40 years in jail.

Two Move Nine members died in prison. Janine lost both of her children to state violence, with her three-week old baby dying from a shattered skull after police attacked her in 1976 and her 12-year-old son Little Phil among five children who perished, along with six adults, when Philadelphia authorities dropped two bombs on a different Move commune in Osage Avenue in 1985. The only adult Move member present to survive the bombing, Ramona Africa, reported that police had fired on those trying to escape the blaze, but no-one was ever charged over the killings.

The women will now join the pair freed last year in campaigning for the release of the three Move Nine members still behind bars. Speaking to the Guardian, Janine said: “The murder of my children, my family, will always affect me, but not in a bad way. When I think about what this system has done to me and my family, it makes me even more committed to my belief.”


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