[Hpn] MOVE founder's sister now homeless in Philly

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Fri, 09 Nov 2001 10:16:42 -0800


http://dailynews.philly.com:80/content/daily_news/2001/11/08/local/MOVE08C.h
tm

Philadelphia Daily News
Thursday, November 8, 2001
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Another Africa is forced to MOVE


By GLORIA CAMPISI 
campisg@phillynews.com

LAVERNE SIMS Africa never lost the faith.

The sister of MOVE founder John Africa is still at war with the system.

Now, she also is homeless, spending much of her time roaming 30th Street
Station, she says.

Africa, who shared a $500,000 federal jury award for the death of John
Africa in the city's 1985 bombing of MOVE, was evicted Oct. 15 from
Philadelphia Housing Authority housing.

A PHA spokeswoman said Africa had been evicted from her longtime PHA
residence on Reno Street near 39th in West Philadelphia for making
terroristic threats.

Africa denies that.

Africa, the mother of two MOVE members who remain jailed in the slaying of
Police Officer James Ramp in the 1978 Powelton Village MOVE standoff, said
she had been evicted after refusing to sign a new lease.

Africa objected to a clause requiring tenants to perform unpaid community
service.

"You want to strip me of my rights and have me work for you like I'm a
slave?" she asked angrily in a recent interview.

Africa, 65, would have been exempt from the requirement because of her age.

Africa and her four siblings split the $500,00 wrongful-death award in 1997.

John Africa was one of 11 MOVE members, some of them children, killed when
the city bombed their home on Osage Avenue in West Philadelphia.

Lawyers received $200,000 of the money. Laverne Africa, an executor of John
Africa's estate, said the rest had been divided among the siblings.

Africa wouldn't discuss finances but said of her eviction: "Money has
nothing to do with what they [PHA] did to me."

Africa said she still follows her brother's teachings. She eats raw food and
ends conversations with the familiar refrain, "On the move."

She said she spends most of her time now at 30th Street Station.

"I sit in a chair to sleep," she said. She said she goes to a
granddaughter's home "when it's necessary to wash and change my dirty
clothes."

Africa, who receives Social Security disability for diabetes and arthritis,
said she had lived in the same PHA housing since 1966 and had no problems.

She said she returned from out of town in mid-July to find the eviction
notice in her mail. When she called PHA, she said an employee brusquely told
her, "You get in here right away and sign the lease. Then, you can ask
questions."

At the PHA office, she confronted the woman she had spoken with on the
telephone for her "high-handed" manner.

She said she also told the woman, "What you need to do is lose weight.
You're fat."

Several days later, police and a PHA detective told Africa the woman had
complained that Africa had threatened to bomb the PHA office with the
employees inside.

Africa denies the threat. No charges were filed, she said. PHA spokeswoman
Robin Leary said the agency had proceeded with eviction instead.

Leary said the agency was "committed to create a safe environment for
residents and employees. Any resident who refuses to comply with our rules
and then makes terroristic threats against our staff can expect to be
evicted." 

Africa also is fighting the city and state, which say she and her siblings
owe $45,000 in inheritance taxes on the wrongful death award. "I would never
give them anything," said Africa. "You bombed my brother to another level of
life and you want me to pay you for it?" *

 2000 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.

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