Last of the Move 9 Women Freed After 40 Years in Jail

On Saturday, Janine Africa, 63, and Janet Holloway Africa, 68, were released from the SCI Cambridge Springs prison in Pennsylvania.

The release of Janine and Janet follows the release last year of Debbie Sims Africa, who was also arrested in the 1978 siege. Janine and Janet were the last of four women in the group to be paroled or to die in prison. Merle Austin Africa, died in prison in March of 1998.

The group of African American black power and environmental campaigners were imprisoned after a police siege of their home in 1978.

The women lived in a communal house in Philadelphia. All members took the last name Africa to show they considered themselves a family.

The siege by the Philadelphia cops lasted several months. On 8 August 1978, cops stormed the property. In the melee, officer James Ramp was shot and killed with a single bullet.

The group has always said they were unarmed and that Ramp must have been shot and killed by other cops, the five men and four women were each sentenced to 30 years to life.

While the women were imprisoned on 13 May 1985, the Move gorup was attacked a second time. On this occasion, cops dropped a bomb from a helicopter.

The bombing caused a fire that destroyed the Move house and 60 other homes, killing eleven Move members. The founder, John Africa, and five children were killed by the bomb, including Janine’s son, Little Phil, aged 12.

The women’s attorney, Brad Thomson, from the People’s Law Office, said the women’s parole was a victory for the “movement to free all political prisoners.”

The Move organization still exists in Philadelphia, where it continues to campaign for racial justice and environmental protection.