Friday, February 15, 2019



"A state police helicopter this evening dropped a bomb on a house occupied by an armed group after a 24-hour siege involving gun battles. A 90-minute shootout this morning came after a week of growing tension between the city and the group, known as Move. Residents in the western Philadelphia neighborhood had complained about the group for years. The only known survivors from within the house were a woman and a child.
The fire spread to 50 to 60 other houses in the neighborhood, said the Fire Commissioner, William Richmond. He declared the fire under control about 11:40 P.M." 
- New York Time; May 14, 1985

The MOVE Organization were a group of black, freedom and nature loving activists founded  in Philadelphia in the early 1970s & 80s. On May 13, 1985 police department after circling above for over an hour dropped a bomb on their house from a helicopter , killing 11 members, including 5 children.

To understand the MOVE bombing, one must understand the organization was targeted. Founded in 1972 by a man named John Africa, MOVE is often described as a black liberation group devoted to several diverse causes. The group disdained from modern technology and materialism. In their communal houses, the members practiced a green lifestyle, lived largely as hunter-gatherers, opposed science and medicine, and advocated for animal rights. So strong were their views that they would regularly stage demonstrations at institutions that they opposed (such as zoos) as well as political rallies.

Furthermore, the members of the MOVE organization took Africa’s surname. They believed that taking the name showed their reverence to their mother continent. In addition, they all wore their hair in dreadlocks and lived communally in a house in Philadelphia’s Powelton Village, and later the house on Osage Avenue.

Due to the deadly consequences of the MOVE bombing, an investigation was soon launched. The police commissioner stepped down and a commission was formed to investigate the MOVE bombing. In the end, the commission found that dropping bombs on a row house known to be occupied, especially by children, was "unconscionable." In the wake of the findings, Mayor W. Wilson Goode made a public apology.

However, as far as criminal penalties for the MOVE bombing went, the only one who faced repercussions was Ramona Africa, the lone surviving adult MOVE member, who was incarcerated for seven years following the MOVE bombing, after being found guilty of rioting and conspiracy.

In 1996 a jury ordered the city to pay $1.5 million to survivor Ramona Africa and relatives of two people killed in the bombing. The jury had found that the city used excessive force and violated the members' constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

Many people who walk the streets of West Philadelphia never realize that not too long ago, not too far from where they're standing, eleven people, five of them children, lost their lives to one of the most vicious acts of excessive force the United States has ever seen.

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