"Long live John Africa," the nine defendants chant as they are led into the courtroom.
"On the MOVE," the audience in the courtroom responds, sounding like a gospel chorus.
"Come on, judge. Come on out here and let's get it on," hollers one defendant to the judge's empty chair. "You black-robed klansman," shouts another. A third defendant quietly does pushups. No one acts as if anything unusual is going on.
Welcome to the finale of the 14-week-old MOVE murder trial, where the bizarre has become the commonplace.
The prosecution rested its case today. The defense is scheduled to begin Wednesday or Thursday. But in keeping with the strange twists of this trial, some of the defense lawyers admit that they have no idea what shape the defense will take.
"I don't know what I'll do," says one of the nine lawyers. "My clients won't talk to me."
The defendants, black revolutionaries accused of killing a police officer in a confrontation on Aug. 8, 1978, have not spent a full day in the courtroom for two months. For the past week, they have refused to come to the courthouse. They will not talk to their lawyers, nor cooperate with the judicial system.
The relationship between lawyer and clients has been pulled apart during the trial, and some legal experts believe new priniciples outlining a lawyer's obligation to his client may result.
"I don't know of any precedent to what's going on at the MOVE trial," said University of Pennsylvania criminal law professor Louis Schwartz. "This case is going to make law."
MOVE -- the name is not an acronym -- is a predominantly black organization that uses confrontational tactics to demonstrate its opposition to society's institutions and technology. MOVE members wear their hair in matted-cornrow dreadlocks, do not use soap on their bodies, chew garlic, and take the surname Africa.
On Aug. 8, 1978, several hundred police appeared at MOVE's ramshackle headquarters near Drexel University. Police were there to serve arrest warrents for MOVE's violations of a court order to vacate the house. MOVE members had vowed to kill their babies if their home was invaded by city health inspectors or police. They'd also promised to "resist force with force."
Shortly after 8:10 a.m., shots rang out. When the shooting ended, one police officer was dead, three seriously injured and 15 police officers and firefighters hurt. None of the MOVE children was hurt. One of the men in the house has his arm grazed by a bullet.
Within hours the city razed the house. Nine of 12 adults are now on trial, two face possible trial, and one was released. A welfare agency found homes for the children, mostly with other MOVE families.
The trial of five male and four female MOVE members charged with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy and aggravated assault began on Dec. 10 with the defendants asking for a non-jury trial and for permission to defend themselves. Common Pleas Judge Edwin S. Malmed granted both wishes, and made sure that court-appointed counsel were in the courtroom to assist the defendants.
The MOVE members cross-examined witnesses, railing instead of questioning, sloganeering instead of probing. They contended that they fired no shots and that any weapons found by police had been planted. Warnings by the judge did no good.
A melee in court between MOVE and sheriff's deputies took place on Jan. 8. Six defendants were ejected. The judge insisted that two defendants promise to behave in order to be readmitted. They refused and were removed.
Two weeks later, all nine defendants were removed. Before they left, they ordered the defense attorneys not to defend them.
The lawyers, not knowing how to proceed, asked the judge to remove them from the case. He refused.
The Move defense lawyers took their dilemma to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which told them after a special hearing on Jan. 22 to defend their clients actively.
For the past two months, the lawyers have been doing just that. Malmed has been bringing the defendants from prison into the courtroom once a week to tell them that they may return if they promise to behave. They have used the opportunity to threaten to "exterminate" Malmed and to say his children have syphilis.
Most of the defense lawyers have not spoken to their clients in two months because the MOVE members simply refuse.
"They're the captains of the ship," says one of the frustrated lawyers.
The defendants, the judge has said, may take the stand on their own behalf without having any promise of good behavior extracted from them, but their lawyers wonder if they will cooperate with the system and do that.
The MOVE members, who have contended that city officials conspired to kill them in the raid on their home, could also ask their lawyers to call people like former mayor Frank L. Rizzo to testify.
Or they could take the stand and conduct a courtroom filibuster until the judge ordered them forcibly removed from the stand.
"I don't know what they're going to do," said one of the defense lawyers. "I don't think anyone does."