Delbert Orr Africa is a political prisoner who has been wrongfully incarcerated for over 35 years. As a young man, he joined the Army and after coming home was a bit itchy for a good Chitown party. Back then, the Chicago Chapter of the Black Panther Party was known for their rent parties and he was one to venture in da hood... where he met my mom. A loving relationship ensued with her being a feisty officer of the BPP and him being a nubuck in the game of stand-up-for-yourself revolution. A year later, in 1969 the FBI put forth false warrants on the Chicago BPP leadership, including my mom. My parents and several others then fled to Canada and birthed me-- One Phoenix Rising.
In March of 1970 Delbert and three other friends decided to head down to Philadelphia because one of them was originally from there. It was there in Philadelphia that he met members of the MOVE organization. He was inspired by their uplifting approach to revolution and stayed on with them. Delbert ended up becoming Minister of Confrontation and Security for the MOVE Organization.
MOVE vs. The police
On August 8, 1978, officers of the Philadelphia Police Department were involved in a confrontation with MOVE members at their Powelton Village headquarters in West Philadelphia. Officer James Ramp was shot and killed. The initial coroner's report determined Officer Ramp was killed from a bullet entering his back and re-entered through the front of his neck. Ballistics determined it was a police issued bullet. Mysteriously, the coroner's report went missing and his secondary report was completely different. Ironically, the grounds of the home was razed within 24 hours of the raid and the 40+ remaining bullet shells (all police issued bullets, mind you) were nowhere to be found. When the police raided the MOVE house in August 1978, Delbert was the one videotaped being beaten brutally by police. He suffered a broken jaw and fractured eye socket from the attack. In all, nine men and women were arrested for James Ramp's murder-- All nine MOVE members were convicted and sentenced to 30-100 years.
Life in Prison
Delbert started his prison sentence out in the “hole” for 6 years in a Dallas prison for refusing to break his religious beliefs and cut his hair. I was not allowed to visit with him during this time. In fact, on one occasion my Granny-- who didn’t drive-- enlisted her girlfriend to drive us from Texas to Philly after getting word that we could see him. Granny & I got into it something awful because I wanted to wear my 8th grade graduation suit on the trip so when we saw him, I'd look nice since it was the first time I would be seeing him since '77. Some 20 odd hours later, we were denied entry because my birth certificate "didn't look right". We traveled back with me in tears. I did get to see him a year 1/2 later, though, making the same trek as before.
Today, my father and the remaining left of the MOVE 9 remain imprisoned in federal institutions. Their first parole came up in 2005. They each remain without their full voice, freedom and unmanned contact with family. I, however, through the love of an only child (dad) borne from only children (Granny Orr & his father, Samuel Orr)...have persevered!!! Shame on us all for allowing many others beyond the MOVE 9 to be wrongfully incarcerated as well.
Daughter of Del> Yvonne Orr-El
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