Last Tuesday, I left my house with a BlackBerry, digital camcorder and iPod. The irony? For the 25th anniversary of Ramona and Birdie Africa being the lone survivors at 6221 Osage Ave., I was heading downtown to discuss the tenets of MOVE, specifically their anti-technology platform, with Ramona.
From any perspective, May 13, 1985 remains complex and troublingly incendiary. But, I wasn’t going to let that anti-technology reality get lost amid a deluge of blame-assigning stories re-chronicling how Mayor Wilson Goode dropped a bomb, police officers’ bullets sentenced some of Ramona’s “family” to death by flame and torched homes were so shoddily rebuilt that fissures are still tangible today. While the items in my pockets betrayed the sentiment, I agreed that many people are more consumed by electronic trinkets than concern for their fellow man. That philosophy feels prophetic today.
“We had, have, a strong belief in life, not technology, and that’s in direct conflict with a system that doesn’t care about life at all,” she said. “Their god is money. That’s all they care about. Our work now is to encourage people who were conditioned by the system to come
back to valuing life. That’s why they felt threatened enough to try to exterminate MOVE. They always dismissed us as crazies because they have no defense against the principles of John Africa.”
The intense hour-long conversation veered from nameless enemies, terrorism, cancer and asthma being caused by greed-governed polluters and a manipulated media to cop-killing crime scenes being demolished within hours of death (she says to keep the MOVE 9 in prison since ’78) and the need for revolution. Is it crazy to see traces of MOVE in the Tea Party movement? I think not.
All of this isn’t to say that Ramona can spurn technology: “We’ll use any means available, whatever it takes to spread our message.” She just doesn’t respect its unchecked omnipresence; she says it’s emblematic of why she’s leery about a nation’s uncertain future.
“It’s gotten frustrating that people won’t rise up and take a stand. There are people out there (including cops) who want to do good things, but it doesn’t take long to figure out that they’re not allowed to,” says Ramona, who held a press conference today yesterday at Friends Center. “We just won’t let the system force beliefs on us and they’re not going to stop until the people make them stop.”