A second member of MOVE who has served decades in jail for the fatal shooting of a Philadelphia police officer has been released on parole.
Michael Davis Africa, 64, was released on parole on Tuesday after 40 years in state prison, his son Michael Africa Jr. has confirmed.
Michael Africa was one of nine members of the Philadelphia Black liberation group convicted of the 1978 murder of police officer James Ramp during a shootout at the organization’s house at 311 N. 33rd St. in the Powelton Village area. The so-called MOVE 9 were sentenced on third-degree murder charges to 30 to 100 years in prison for the fatal shooting.
The Aug. 8, 1978, shooting of Ramp was the culmination of several confrontations between MOVE and the police department. A May 1985 standoff with police led to the firebombing death of 11 people, including MOVE founder John Africa, and the destruction of 65 homes in another part of West Philadelphia.
Africa is now the second MOVE 9 member to be released. His wife, Debbie, was paroled earlier this year. Of the seven others, two have died in prison — Merle in 1998 and Phil in 2015 — and the remaining have been eligible for parole since 2008.
“I’m euphoric,” said Michael Africa Jr., who picked up his father Tuesday from the Phoenix correctional facility in Collegeville, Pa.
“Free the rest,” he added in reference to the five MOVE 9 members still in prison.
The state Board of Probation and Parole decided on Oct. 9 to parole Michael Africa.
According to the board’s written decision, Michael Africa was granted parole because of his “positive institutional behavior,” the “positive recommendation made by the Department of Corrections,” his “demonstrated motivation for success” and his “acceptance of responsibility for the offense(s) committed.”
Pam Africa, a longtime MOVE member living in Philadelphia, said during a telephone interview that there was no justification to convict the MOVE 9 members. She said the group will continue its efforts to have the remaining five released.
“You can’t bring (out) two and leave the rest,” Pam Africa said. “The exact same conditions” exist for the remaining MOVE 9 members.”