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June 02, 1979 - Image 6

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1979-06-02

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Page 6-Saturday, June 2, 1979--The Michigan Daily
Cult creates chaos in court

American justice and denouncing
charges they killed a police officer, nine
mop-haired members of a radical
group called MOVE are making a legal
shambles of a courtroom battlefield
even before their murder trial formally
Since proceedings began this week,
they have stridently baited the judge
and prosecutor by refusing to cooperate
in the trial and by shouting such slogans
as "On the Move" and "Long Live John
Africa"-founder of the back-to-nature
cult. Their rhetoric is often echoed by
supporters in the courtroom as they
press preliminary motions expected to
delay jury selection for several more
THEIR TRIAL attire is not the
judicial vogue, and would be banned in
anv ntherenurtrnom The men often

wear sleeveless undershirts and the
women low cut blouses that sometimes
expose bosoms-but no admonition
comes from the bench.
"We are not going to give them a
chance to scream they didn't get their
day in court, so we'll give them weeks,
months, if necessary, tok make sure
justice is done," says Assistant District
Attorney Wilhelm Knauer.
Common Please Judge Charles
Mirachi grimaces at the sometimes ob-
scene rantings and ravings, but he has
kept a tight rein on the action despite
the defendants' penchant to make
irrelevant speeches while acting as
their own lawyers. He has occasionally
ordered a defendant removed from the
courtroom for refusing to restrain ver-
bal outbursts.
THE FIVE BLACK men and four
black women-each use the surname

"Africa" in honor of their founder-are
accused of' murdering Patrolman
James Ramp, 52, last Aug. 8 as police
and firemen broke into MOVE
headquarters to end a 15-month siege
that had cost the city more than $1.5
Two other women, also charged in the
killing, were granted separate trials.
The defendants have pleaded in-
nocent. They have said they do not want
a jury trial, but they have refused to
give a written or oral waiver.
MOVE, WHICH HAS less than 25
known members, nearly all of them
black, claims its goatis to overthrow
the government and American way of
The bloody confrontation with police
officers and firemen using water can-
nons flushed out 12 adults, 11 children,
and 22 dogs from a three-story Vic-
torian-style house in which they had
barricaded themselves. After the bat-
tle, bulldozers and a crane were used to
level the brick and wood building,
which had no indoor plumbing.
"We did it so they can't get back in
again," Mayor Frank Rizzo said about
destroying the house on the edge of the
Drexel University campus and seven
blocks from the University of Pen-
nsylvania in west Philadelphia. -
RIZZO, A FORMER policeman,
later offered to pull the switch of the
electric chair if the MOVE defendants
were convicted and sentenced to death.
"Too much blood flowed," he said.
"But we were dealing with psychotic
Besides Ramp, six other police of-
ficers, five firefighters, and two MOVE
members were hit by bullets in a battle
that investigators claim was triggered

by a MOVE member firing through a
window of the flooded basement.
THE GROUP HAD been cited for
violating the city's health and fire
codes. It had rejected numerous court
orders since 1976 to vacate the
barricaded premises where garbage
and human waste composted in the
backyard, and where their children
played nude in the dung piles.
For two years, the city sought unsuc-
cessfully to negotiate an arrangement
that would satisfy complaining neigh-
bors and MOVE supporters.
"The adversary in this case was an
uncivilized foe who we were forced to
cope with according to civilized rules,"
said Rizzo.
"THE CITY LEANED over back-
wards to demonstrate its restraint and
its compassion, especially, because of
the children who were involved. But his
lawless group chose instead to continue
its defiance, its mockery of the rules
of law and justice to the end."
For a time the city tried a blockade,
cutting off food and water. This ended
when MOVE agreed in early 1978 to
evacuate the premises by the summer.
The pre-dawn confrontation followed.
The MOVE defendants earlier this
year sought to have the murder charges
dismissed on grounds that the city's
leveling of their headquarters
destroyed evidence and denied them
any chance to a fair trial. A judge rejec-
ted this motion.
Now, before testimony can begin,
they want Mirachi to grant them more
time for meetings in prison after court
sessions to map defense strategy.
They refuse to consult with court-
appointed attorneys, telling Mirachi:
"You appointed them, and we don't
trust you, so we don't trust them."

U.S. rep claims bill to
limit police searches
should be broadened

WASHINGTON (AP) - The head of a
key House subcommittee said yester-
day he plans to ask the Justice Depar-
tment why an administration bill
restricting police searches should not
be broadened to protect more people.
"I would prefer a more balanced
bill," said Rep. Robert Kastenmeier (D-
Wis.), chairman of the civil liberties
subcommittee of the House Judiciary
response to a May 31, 1978, ruling of the
Supreme Court that the Constitution
permits police with search warrants to
conduct unannounced raids to obtain
evidence from persons not suspected of
The bill would prohibit federal, state,
and local law enforcement agents from
engaging in such searches directed at
the news media or at authors, scholars,
and researchers.
Because the search which gave'rise
to the court decision involved a
newsroom, journalists have expressed
concern that the decision could inter-
fere with newsgathering.
A PANEL of journalists who ap-
peared before the committee on Thur-
sday, however, said the legislation
should be broadened to protect the
privacy of other citizens as well.
Dr. Jerome Beigler, a professor of'

psychiatry at the University of
Chicago, endorsed this view in
testimony yesterday on behalf of the
American Psychiatric Association,
Biegler said the problem "goes far
beyond the press" and threatens,
among other things, the confidentiality
of psychiatrists' files on their patients.
On the other hand Atlantic County,
N.J. Prosecutor Richard Williams,
speaking for the National District At-
torneys Association, said no legislation
is needed. But if any is passed, he said,
it should be restricted to the press.
THE JUSTICE Department has
taken the position that its proposal is
constitutional because of special First
Amendment protection of materials in-
tended for publication. But the depar-
tment has said it is doubtful the Con-
stitution would permit federal restric-
tions on state and local searches for
other types of material.
Terry Adamson, spokesman for At-
torney -General Griffin Bell, said
yesterday the department was "giving
it some further study" but had not
changed its position.
Kastenmeier said he would probably
schedule a hearing in mid-June to
receive testimony from the department
and then have the subcommittee begin
shaping a bill with the aim of House ac-
tion this summer.

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