Charles Sims Africa dies; was last member of MOVE freed on parole in 1978 death of officer
Africa was one of nine MOVE members convicted of third-degree murder in the 1978 death of Philadelphia Police Officer James Ramp.
Charles Sims Africa, the last member of MOVE freed on parole after serving 41 years in prison for the 1978 shootout that killed Philadelphia Police Officer James Ramp, died on Sept. 20, family members said.
Africa, who was 61, had been battling cancer when he died early Monday morning, said Mike Africa Jr. on his podcast discussing the life of “Chuck” Africa with Mike’s parents, Debbie Africa, Chuck’s sister, and Mike Sr., a friend of Chuck’s since childhood.
“I’ve never ever seen or met anybody that was just so strong-willed and so determined to just be a fighter. And he fought every step of the way … since he came home last February,” Debbie Africa said on the podcast.
Chuck Africa was released from the State Correctional Institution Fayette, south of Pittsburgh, on Feb. 7, 2020.
Several weeks earlier, Delbert Africa was the second to last of the nine to be freed on parole. Two died while serving their sentences. Delbert Africa died in June 2020.
Brad Thomson, Chuck Africa’s lawyer at the time he was released, said on Twitter: “Chuck had a heart and a fighting spirit that was unparalleled. He loved animals, boxing, and literature -- which we’d talk about often. RIP Chuck. You will be deeply missed.”
Chuck Africa was one of nine MOVE members convicted of third-degree murder for the death of Ramp and seven counts of attempted murder following an Aug. 8, 1978, shootout with police at the radical group’s compound — a three-story Victorian twin at 33rd and Pearl Streets in Powelton Village.
Ramp, 52, a husband and father of a teenage boy, was crouching forward to peer around a pole when he was struck in the chest by a bullet.
The 19-week trial in 1980 of the nine MOVE members was at the time the longest and most expensive in Pennsylvania history.
MOVE members acted as their own lawyers for the first several weeks. The group members claimed they fired no shots that day. A defense attorney later suggested that police had shot Ramp by mistake and planted the rifle that turned out to be a ballistic match for the weapon that killed Ramp and wounded two other officers. Police said they recovered 11 rifles and handguns and 2,000 rounds of ammunition from the house.
The remaining free members of the group relocated to the 6200 block of Osage Avenue. MOVE continued to antagonize neighbors and clash with the city, setting the stage for the disastrous May 13, 1985, confrontation in which the city dropped a bomb on the group’s house. The ensuing conflagration destroyed more than 60 homes and killed 11 people, including MOVE founder John Africa and five children.