No parole for 3 MOVE members
By Emilie Lounsberry
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Three female MOVE members who have been behind bars since the 1978 shootout that killed Philadelphia Police Officer James Ramp and injured seven others were denied parole this morning, according to a spokesman for the state Board of Probation and Parole.
Debbie Sims Africa, Janet Hollaway Africa and Janine Phillips Africa were just informed of the decision and the reasons for the rejection, spokesman Leo Dunn said.
Dunn said each was informed they had minimized or denied the "nature and circumstances" of the offense, "refused to accept responsibility" and lacked remorse.
He said the fourth reason for the rejections was the "negative recommendation" by the prosecutor.
Decisions are still pending for four other MOVE members eligible for parole consideration this month. Five of nine votes would be required for parole to be granted.
The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office urged the board to require the defendants to serve the maximum of their 30- to 100-year prison terms. The seven were among nine MOVE members convicted in a 19-week trial in 1980. An eighth defendant will be eligible for parole next year; a ninth died in prison.
All nine were found guilty of third-degree murder in the shooting death of Ramp and the attempted murders of the others shot and injured that day, when police tried to evict 12 adults and 11 children from their headquarters at 33d and Pearl Streets in Poweltown Village.
The 1978 confrontation was a pivotal moment in the city's torturous history with the radical group and ultimately set the stage for another disaster - the May 1985 fire that killed 11 MOVE members, including five children, and destroyed 61 houses in West Philadelphia. The 11 were killed after police dropped a bomb on the MOVE headquarters and decided to let it burn.