Abdul-Aliy A. Muhammad, codefendant in lawsuit Janet Monge v. University of Pennsylvania et al., filed with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, held a press conference at Penn Museum on Thursday, August 31, 2023 at 9:30 am. There is urgent and new evidence pertaining to the MOVE remains held at the museum. Ramona Africa and Janine Africa were present.
Statement on new evidence about MOVE Remains held at Penn Museum
My name is Abdul-Aliy A. Muhammad, Janet Monge is suing me for my 2021 Op-Ed: Penn Owes Reparations for previously holding remains of a MOVE bombing victim. I am here today as a private citizen speaking in my capacity as a member of the West Philadelphia & Southwest Philadelphia community. I am not speaking for any institution today. At great risk to my livelihood and safety, I am here to impart new information to the press in hopes that we can facilitate the return of ancestral remains. Here is the truth: Janet Monge is a liar.
In April 2021, I became aware that remains identified by the MOVE commission experts as Katricia Dotson, and Delisha Africa were being retained at Penn Museum. However, the Penn Museum only acknowledged possession of the bones that could be observed in the Coursera Course video: the right femur, the right innominate (part of the pelvis), and the left pubic symphysis of Katricia. That wasn’t the end of the story.
Now we have a set of three photos that show that in addition to the remains of Katricia in the Coursera video, Janet had other remains identified as Delisha Africa, all of which she displayed to the public at the Penn Museum in 2014.
Janet Monge lied about not having the remains of Delisha Africa
The photos were found on an online photo-sharing site from a public event hosted at the Penn Museum. At the event which took place in 2014, Janet Monge can be observed speaking to tour attendees within the new Physical Anthropology Lab at the museum. There are stations within the lab showcasing different collections of remains displayed on tables. In the photos Janet has on gloves, and is in front of a table with remains on it. Katricia’s femur and innominate are easily identifiable because of the video and still images from the Coursera Course. There appear to be other remains of Katricia on the table, as well as remains of Delisha Africa, including her occipital bone, which was mentioned repeatedly in eyewitness accounts, and documentary evidence included in my April 2022 article Decades After Philadelphia’s MOVE Bombing, Penn Museum Still Keeps Secrets on the Remains of 12-Year-Old Girl. There are also handwritten tags that read MOVE on the table. The bones on the table match descriptions of bones of Body G that forensic anthropologist Ellis Kerley studied in a report for the Philadelphia Special Investigation Commission for the MOVE Bombing in 1985. Body G was identified by the official investigators as Delisha Africa.
Janet Monge lied about how many remains were retained and whose remains were retained. In statements made during three different investigations by Ballard Spahr LLP, Montgomery McCraken Walker & Rhoads LLP, Dechert LLP, Tucker Law Group, she claimed that she only retained the remains of one MOVE child.
According to the investigators for the official report by the City of Philadelphia “Dr. Monge has consistently stated that the box of remains that she and Dr. Mann received from the MEO did not contain any remains associated with Body G or any victims other than B-1.” Body B-1 was identified by the official investigators as Katricia Dotson.
In addition to the three investigatory reports, the argument presented in Janet Monge v. University of Pennsylvania et al, is that Monge never had the remains of two children; this contention is one of the main points of her complaint to the court.
Janet Monge lied about what context she would show remains in, and who she showed MOVE Remains to.
In the Tucker Law Group’s report “The Odyssey of the MOVE Remains,” prepared for the University of Pennsylvania, several museum employees recalled that Janet displayed the MOVE remains during an event for donors in 2015, and according to the official report for the City of Philadelphia:
“When asked about this event by the MMWR Review Team, Dr. Monge stated that she was surprised to read about it in the Tucker Law Group Report, as she did not independently remember it and because it was not her usual practice to show the MOVE victim remains to anyone who was not assisting in her efforts to identify them. Dr. Monge also stated that she went back and reviewed the guest list for this event and claims that all of the attendees were medical doctors. She stated that, because of who was attending this specific event, she may have brought out the MOVE victim remains so that she could consult with the attendees about their thoughts on the remains.”
Janet Monge has stated that she would only show the MOVE remains to individuals with relevant backgrounds to support her in identifying the remains. In the new photos from 2014, she is showing the remains to the general public who came to the museum for a public event.
Janet Monge is viewed in the photos from 2014 showing the MOVE remains before she considered that case a “cold case.”
Janet told Ballard Spahr’s investigators for Princeton University’s report that “in early 2015, she determined the case was ‘cold,’ and that she would be unable to come to a conclusion on the MOVE Victim Remains’ identity;” and that “once Dr. Monge concluded that the case was cold, she believed that it was appropriate to use the MOVE Victim Remains in her teaching activities.”
What connects the elements of bone fragments on the table to the 1985 identification process by MEO and MOVE Commission?
This is the earliest photographic evidence of the presence of the “Body G” bone elements at the Penn Museum, that are mentioned in Alan Mann’s report from November 14, 1985, and Ellis R. Kerley’s Anthropological Report from 1985. Each of the elements displayed on the table that Janet is in front of is described in those reports, in which Kerley identifies the individual as being 9-12 years old, which is consistent with Delisha Africa’s age.
I have spoken to people with training in human osteology on background, including people who are familiar with these remains. They agree independently that the remains on the table are of Katricia and Delisha. I have an urgent call for experts who can review material from reports, archives and photo sites, who can speak on record and provide official statements about what we know. We need someone who is able to work with us on this material who is unafraid of the repercussions to their career, as this topic remains one which deeply implicates the fields of biological and forensic anthropology as a whole.
Janet Monge must return Delisha’s remains, as well as Katricia Africa’s missing right pubic symphysis.
In the Coursera video from January 2019, Janet Monge and her student Jane Weiss (whose mother Jill Topkis Weiss is a Trustee of the University of Pennsylvania) are examining remains of Katricia Dotson Africa, and during the video Janet Monge is trying to match a right pelvic fragment with a left portion of Katricia’s pubic symphysis. It doesn’t work because there is a right pubic symphysis, which isn’t present in the video, but is documented in an x-ray taken at the Penn Museum in November 2018. That bone was also excluded from the remains of Katricia Dotson that were turned over to MOVE in July 2021.
In short, Janet Monge did not turn over all the remains of MOVE children in 2021. There are still remains unaccounted for, and photo evidence that these remains were in her possession and at the Penn Museum. Something must be done to ensure that Janet Africa has the precious remains of Delisha returned to her, and that Lionell Dotson can put to rest all of the remains of his sister Katricia.
Janet Monge lied to us about the bones she kept. The University of Penn, Director of Penn Museum Christopher Woods, and the Tucker Law Group allowed that lie to persist since the revelations of the retention surfaced in 2021. They are all responsible for Delisha’s remains not being returned to her family and didn’t ensure that Lionell received all the remains of Katricia.
Institutions must not be allowed to do this again. We need new legislation that expands how we define abuse of a corpse or desecration of remains. We need persons of political power to take this on. We are just scratching the surface here.
MOVE Elders have one demand: FREE MUMIA ABU JAMAL!