Exclusive: Debbie Sims Africa, the first freed member of a revolutionary Philadelphia group many say were unjustly incarcerated, talks about reuniting with her son and defends the Move members still locked up: We are peaceful people
The first member of a group of black radicals known as the Move Nine who have been incarcerated, they insist unjustly, for almost 40 years for killing a Philadelphia police officer has been released from prison.
Debbie Sims Africa, 61, walked free from Cambridge Springs prison in Pennsylvania on Saturday, having been granted parole. She was 22 when with her co-defendants she was arrested and be subject to 30 to 100 years for the shooting death of officer James Ramp during a police siege of the group’s communal home on 8 August 1978.
She emerged from the correctional institution to be reunited with her son, Michael Davis Africa Jr, to whom she devoted birth in a prison cell in September 1978, a month after her arrest.
” This is huge for us personally ,” Sims Africa told the Guardian, speaking from her son’s home in a small town on the outskirts of Philadelphia where she will now live.
Davis Africa, 39, who was separated from his mother at less than a week old and has never spent period with her outside prison, said they were coming to words with being reunited after virtually four decades.
” Today I had breakfast with my mother for the first time ,” he said.” There’s so much we haven’t done together .”
The release of Debbie Sims Africa is a major breakthrough regarding the ongoing incarceration of large numbers of individuals involved in the black freeing movement of the late 1960 s and 1970 s who are now growing old behind bars. At least 25 men and women belonging to Move or the former Black Panther party remain locked up, in some cases almost half a century after their arrests.
Read more: www.theguardian.com