Neighbors seemed especially disturbed by our dedication to reusing our so-called waste. We didn’t send our food scraps to a landfill. Every MOVE member has a bucket or container to hold their food scraps. People call this a compost bucket, but I grew up calling it a “life bucket.” When the bucket would fill, MOVE members lucky enough to have a yard would dig a hole in the ground and dump the remains there. Then, we’d reuse the soil to organically fertilize our yards.
We used to just dump the food scraps on the ground, but the neighbors didn’t approve. What we viewed as life, they viewed as garbage. That’s offensive because, to MOVE members, even the peels and scraps are important. Once we started digging holes, the conspiracies and complaints continued. People assumed we were building tunnels, a lie the police used as an excuse to attack us.
MOVE prides itself on avoiding waste of all forms—not just food. In the early days, the organization avoided buying furniture. If we did, it was usually second-hand. The MOVE HQ used a long tree branch for seating. We’d create makeshift plates out of paper bags to scatter and crack nuts on. Or we’d burn the paper for heat in the winter. We’d buy in bulk and use reusable containers made out of glass, wood, or cardboard.
No matter how hard we tried to live in sync with the Earth, we were persecuted. MOVE members see a direct connection between our efforts to protect the environment and dismantle the status quo and the way we were treated by police, politicians, and the courts. A single ruling can echo for decades.
John Africa wrote about this in the “Judge’s Letter,” his writings about the true interests of the judicial system. The courts determine who’s innocent, who’s guilty, and the consequences. This is the system that wrongfully incarcerated my parents and seven other MOVE members. It’s the same system that allows companies like DuPont and Monsanto to get away with poisoning people with their chemical products. These companies groom their own employees to become lawyers and lobbyists, eventually making their way into governmental bodies so they can protect the corporations that are producing toxicity. Society likes to think the courts are upholding the law—but they can be outlaws themselves. They allow industrialists to pollute the Earth while throwing innocent poor people behind bars. The courts are a tool of industry. And industry is interested in exploiting natural resources for its own greed. Everything on the planet—and Earth itself—is endangered, and the courts are the gateway to this endangerment.