Chuck Sims Africa Released From Prison, Marking Freedom Of All MOVE 9 Members
“We will never have to shout ‘Free the Move 9!’ ever again,” said his nephew.
February 08, 2020 at 8:46 am
After more than 40 years, the last of the MOVE 9 has been freed from prison.
Chuck Sims Africa is a free man after spending his whole adult life in prison, reported The Guardian. The 59-year-old spent 42 years in prison before he walked free on Friday. He was the last remaining member of the Black power organization to be freed. He was only 18 years old when he went to prison.
MOVE was started by John Africa in 1972, during the height of the Black power movement. The group promoted environmentalism and spoke out against police brutality. Every member took the surname Africa to honor the motherland and the group’s founder. On August 8, 1978, the MOVE headquarters was raided by the Philadelphia police department in an attempt to drive the group from its communal home, according to The Philadelphia Tribune. A shootout ensued, and Philadelphia police officer James Ramp died after he was shot in the head. Investigators never figured out who shot the officer, but they placed the blame on MOVE.
Nine members of the collective were arrested in connection with Ramp’s death. The group insisted MOVE had nothing to do with Ramp’s death.
“Officer James Ramp, who was standing above us on street-level and facing our home, was killed by a single bullet that struck him on a downward angle,” the group argued, via its website. “This alone makes it impossible for MOVE to have killed Ramp, since we were below street level, in the basement.”
In addition to Chuck, the arrested members included:
- Mike Africa Sr.
- Debbie Sims Africa
- Merle Africa
- Phil Africa
- Janine Phillips Africa
- Janet Holloway Africa
- Eddie Goodman Africa
- Delbert Orr Africa
The MOVE 9 was convicted of third-degree murder and sentenced to 30 years to life in state prison.
Seven years later, Philadelphia dropped two bombs on the MOVE house. The resulting fire killed 11 people, including John Africa and five children. Sixty-one homes were burned down, leaving 250 people homeless, per Vox.
MOVE suffered two more tragedies when Merle and Phil died in prison. The remaining members and their supporters spent decades fighting for their freedom. They were up for parole in 2008, but the state denied it.
In June 2018, Debbie was released from prison, as Blavity previously reported.
Mike Sr. walked free in October of 2018. Janine and Janet followed him in May 2019, and Eddie left prison the following month. Delbert, the last one to be freed before Chuck, was released in January. Before Chuck was freed, former Philadelphia Mayor Wilson Goode wrote to the parole board on his behalf.
“His release will reunite a family after 40 years and I am convinced he will be a positive contributing voice to the Philadelphia community,” Goode wrote.
Chuck’s release marks the end of a long, tiring movement.
“We will never have to shout ‘Free the Move 9!’ ever again,” said Mike Africa Jr., Chuck’s nephew. “It’s been 41 years, and now we’ll never have to say it.”
Mike Jr., Mike Sr. and Debbie’s son, was born in his mother’s cell without medical assistance. The newborn spent only three days with his mother before he was taken away. Since everyone is free, MOVE is working on an event to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the bombing.