Today’s Metro Column (and sidebars)

May 13, 1985

May 13, 1985

It’s May 13 in Philly. What do you think my column’s about? That’s right: A sit-down interview last week with Ramona Africa about a MOVE philosophy with which I agree …

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.

Here’s the full Q& A with Tony Allen, a former MOVEite (doesn’t look like space afforded a full run in today’s issue, which you should pick up) …

Former MOVE member Tony Allen now calls himself “a cult-buster” dedicated to keeping the memory of slain MOVE-ite John Gilbride alive and drawing attention to the “dangerous sect” via He talks to Metro about his MOVE life and afterlife.

What was the “good” MOVE life like?
There was a strong familial aspect, hugs, encouragement, kindness, people concerned about your problems. What MOVE tried to be was a replacement traditional family.

And “bad” MOVE life?
The whole thing was to break bonds with society and replace it with bonds to them. The ideal they held up was you’re completely dependent upon the group. There’s nothing on the outside at all; the only truth is the truth of (founder) John Africa, anything else is a falsity. They break you down and build you back up in their image of what a person should be for the group’s benefit, not the individual’s.
It was a means to an end, though. The leaders of the group now embrace, in totality, the lifestyle they claim to abhor.

Why did you leave?
I got involved through the Mumia issue. In the mid-90s, minute-by-minute, day-by-day, I became enmeshed in that life. You don’t look at it as different … but one day you just wake up said say, ‘I have some wacked out ideas’ so you step back and look at it.
I was moving away from them for some time, but the big issue was when John Gilbride was killed. (The MOVE member/ ex-husband of Alberta Africa with whom he was in a nasty custody battle, was slain execution-style outside his Maple Shade, NJ apartment in 2002. The case remains unsolved). From the moment I heard that, I knew things were bad, and the only thing that made sense was that it was MOVE. That was hard to deal with.
I was subtle (in distancing myself), got in touch with a reporter (and shared my story publicly in 2004). There were some thinly-veiled threats, “You never know who’s going to get it next.” But every time, I put it out publicly. I had their whole email list.

What will you be thinking about on May 13, 2010?
The kids that died. That’s so tragic. They weren’t MOVE members, just little kids who became victims. What the neighbors went through. How sick people in MOVE were to think what they were doing was right. It’s an amazing waste of human potential; there are some smart people, but they’re just wasting away. What a complete waste.

Additional coverage by Solomon D. Leach.

**Correction: Tony Allen was a supporter, not member, of MOVE.

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