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Move



The 2002 murder in Philadelphia of John Gilbride, former husband of MOVE matriarch Alberta Africa, remains unsolved. Gilbride, who had been involved in a child-custody dispute with Africa, claimed in divorce papers that “my attitude toward my wife was going to cause a situation that would involve my death.” Following a domestic dispute over their son that led Gilbride to call police, Africa testified, “Jack was not pushin’ me because he wanted Zack, because he knew that MOVE belief would not allow me to give him Zack.” Gilbride intended, she said, to “drive me and Zachary into a situation where we’re confronted by cops and court orders and warrants. And he knows because of 1985, May 13, 1985, he knows what a situation like that could cause.” (The date was a reference to the armed confrontation that led authorities to bomb MOVE’s West Philadelphia base, killing 11 members and destroying 60 homes.) (Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/20/12) [IT 4.1 2013]

Jack Gilbride, the late John Gilbride’s father, has written a memoir, A Father’s Sacrifice, a 109,000-word manuscript dedicated to John’s son Zach, now 16 and living with MOVE matriarch Alberta Africa. Jack Gilbride says the boy is being groomed to become MOVE leader. The manuscript details John Gilbride’s long relationship with MOVE and Alberta Africa, during which John was allegedly “subjected to mental cruelty meted out by MOVE” and “nearly paralyzed by an overwhelming sense of guilt and fear.” [IT 4.1 2013]

MOVE persists, in Philadelphia, but its style is different. Where the collective once favored raw food, illustrating a preference for the “natural,” members now gorge on junk food. Previously eschewing the finer things in life, as well as pop culture and technology, they now “vacation in Europe, listen to opera, play video games, record rap propaganda, throw Harry Potter parties, and use the Internet to spew hate.” They once railed against the system; they now live off large settlements gained from the city. “They would say,” remarks an observer, “that they use the things in the system in order to destroy the system.” In response to my reporting, MOVE picketed my office, harassed me at home, and threatened to harm my newborn. While Alberta Africa, the wife of the late leader, John Africa—and her son, born of costly in-vitro fertilization—live an upscale suburban life, two dozen other MOVE children don’t attend school; the boys get a rudimentary education at home and the girls are raised to be future baby-makers. A member who has left says: “Keeping children intellectually repressed is one of the only ways MOVE holds true to its old ideology.” Move has evolved into a cult of personality designed to maintain leaders’ comfortable way of life. [IT 1.2 2010]