RON WILLIAMS / Philadelphia Jounral via UPIPolice and firefighters duck after others were hit by gunfire at the start of the Aug. 8, 1978, shoot-out. Officer James Ramp was killed and many others were injured.1 of 13READER FEEDBACKPosted on Thu, May. 6, 2010
Cop’s death in ‘78 clash was a sparkBy KITTY CAPARELLA
Philadelphia Daily News
"OH MY GOD! They shot a cop!"
I shouted into the phone to a Daily News editor who was taking notes as police surrounded the MOVE compound in Powelton Village.
Cops were trying to get the radical cult members to drop their weapons and come out of the basement with their children.
Suddenly, gunshots came from the basement window of the MOVE house.
From a third-floor apartment window, I looked down to where stakeout cop James Ramp was slowly kneeling to take a shooting position on the sidewalk with others. Ramp abruptly fell backward, blood coming out of his mouth.
It was 8:15 a.m. on Aug. 8, 1978, in the first armed battle between MOVE and the Philadelphia Police Department. Ramp was killed and 16 cops and firefighters were injured.
At 6 a.m., an officer had read a warrant and ordered the MOVE members to surrender, then Msgr. Charles Devlin, of the Cardinal's Commission on Human Relations, and many others appealed to MOVE to end the siege.
"Please on behalf of everything that is sane and honest, send out the children," said Devlin.
Bulldozers shoved away the parapet where for 15 months MOVE had threatened a showdown if four of their members weren't released from prison. Using a battering ram, flak-jacketed cops rammed the front, side and basement windows, then a wall, revealing a bag of onions, peanut butter, potatoes and waxed paper.
Deluge tanks were positioned close to the house, where they discharged columns of water directly into the basement.
Hundreds of rats and dozens of dogs emerged from the house all morning, eventually followed by 11 MOVE members and 11 children.
But the rage felt by some police upset by the death of one of their own was saved for the vitriolic Delbert Orr Africa, an ex-Black Panther member and Army vet who counted dead soldiers before shipping them home from Vietnam.
When Delbert Africa climbed through the basement window, a cop grabbed his dreadlocks, dragging him down the street, while others kicked and pounded his body. Other officers jumped the cops to pull them off.
Daily News photographer Norman Lono, who had hidden in the shower of the same apartment as I had, documented the horror from beginning to end.
The next morning I awoke screaming from the images of war. Covering MOVE was a recurring nightmare.
The siege begins
Only 15 months earlier during a nine-hour standoff with police, 18 MOVE members, in tan fatigues and black berets, brandished rifles and handguns on the parapet at the MOVE compound, a twin house illegally taken over at 33rd and Pearl streets.
They demanded that four jailed members be freed and threatened to kill city officials, judges, cops and reporters. After nine hours, Civil Affairs Inspector George Fencl persuaded the members to put away their weapons.
From that day on - May 20, 1977 - police began a 24-hour surveillance of MOVE, whose members relished the attention and publicity, and incited crowds with racial epithets and harangues against city officials.
The trial of Jofn Africa was memorable. The only one ever lost by a man named Les. And the man who would became who became John Africa lived and died as Vincent Leaphart.
It was not a suicide yet somehow it went down in the books that way... petitions curculated to change the cause of death.
Vincent broke the golden rule set forth by the chief prosecutor... he was given a choice... surrender now!
In the words Ghengis Kahn reveal a twisted pattern of criminal activity in the underbelly of The Powers That Beat.
The truth exists in the buried archives of "unpublished opinions"
What were the motives and was the voice beneath the statement, "Surrender Now?"
Surrender Now" will ultimately reveal a deep and disturbing pattern of corruption that goes far beyond the City of Brotherly Love.
FIVE SQUAD, CORRUPTION, WAR ON DRUGS, WAR ON CRIME,
THE WAR AT HOME!
Incorporated in Delaware, 1972.