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Philadelphia burning: The citys forgotten outrage against a Black community

Published by Business Insider on Sun, 22 Nov 2020


<p><img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/5fba4a7a50e71a0011556b08-2400/AP8505160179.jpg" border="0" alt="MOVE Bombing" data-mce-source="George Widman/AP Photos" data-mce-caption="Workers use a screen to sift through debris brought from the gutted MOVE house on May 16, 1985."></p><p></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><p>Philadelphia City Council finally voted to apologize for their decision to approve a bombing, which left 11 people dead, including five children, in 1985, an outrage that has been all-but-forgotten.</p><p>On May 13, police dropped an explosive device on the roof of 6621 Osage Avenue in West Philadelphia after a daylong confrontation with the Black radical group, MOVE, as officers tried to evict them from their compound,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.inquirer.com/news/philadelphia/move-bombing-apology-philadelphia-walter-wallace-20201112.html" data-analytics-module="body_link" data-analytics-post-depth="40" data-uri="798ee8ea4c32a1d20e50e2d86d61932b">The Philadelphia Inquirer</a>&nbsp;reported.</p><p>The police fired 10,000 rounds of ammunition into the building before dropping the bomb from a helicopter onto the building's roof, igniting the destructive inferno.&nbsp;</p><p>Gregore J. Sambor, the Police Commissioner who directed the bombing, resigned in November of that year. A grand jury in 1988 cleared then-Mayor W. Wilson Goode and other top city officials of criminal liability for death and destruction resulting from the operation, the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/13/us/philadelphia-bombing-apology-move.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-analytics-module="body_link" data-analytics-post-depth="60" data-uri="c45d8079227b26cc257c44c1cec66717">New York Times</a>&nbsp;reported.</p><p>However, W. Wilson Goode wrote in&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/10/when-i-was-mayor-philadelphia-bombed-civilians-its-time-for-the-city-to-apologise" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-analytics-module="body_link" data-analytics-post-depth="60" data-uri="d090a8b3f74a8dc0fc7144f78d2a0dc9">The Guardian</a>: "The event will remain in my conscience for the rest of my life."</p><p>Scroll down to find out more about the day the police bombed a black neighborhood.</p><h3>On May 13, 1985, Philadelphia Police dropped a bomb on 6621 Osage Avenue which left 11 people dead, including five children, and burned down 61 homes.</h3><img src="https://static3.businessinsider.com/image/5fb79d4250e71a001155667d-400-300/on-may-13-1985-philadelphia-police-dropped-a-bomb-on-6621-osage-avenue-which-left-11-people-dead-including-five-children-and-burned-down-61-homes.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Since 1981, the building had been the headquarters of MOVE, a radical West Philadelphia group whose ideology combined Black revolutionary ideals with environmental and animal rights.</p><p><em>Source: <a href="https://www.inquirer.com/news/philadelphia/move-bombing-apology-philadelphia-walter-wallace-20201112.html">The Philadelphia Inquirer</a> </em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p><br/><br/><h3>The police fired 10,000 rounds of ammunition in under 90 minutes at 6621 Osage Avenue, which was known to be occupied by children, at 6am on May 13, 1985, the Philadelphia Special Investigation Commission found.</h3><img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/5fb7996a32f2170011f703d8-400-300/the-police-fired-10000-rounds-of-ammunition-in-under-90-minutes-at-6621-osage-avenue-which-was-known-to-be-occupied-by-children-at-6am-on-may-13-1985-the-philadelphia-special-investigation-commission-found.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Source: <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/1986/03/07/us/excerpts-from-commission-s-report-on-bombing.html">The New York Times</a> </em></p></p><br/><br/><h3>They then dropped a satchel bomb laced with Tovex and C-4 explosives, a military-grade demolition device typically used in combat, on the MOVE compound, the Philadelphia Special Investigation Commission added.</h3><img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/5fb92b1950e71a0011556a99-400-300/they-then-dropped-a-satchel-bomb-laced-with-tovex-and-c-4-explosives-a-military-grade-demolition-device-typically-used-in-combat-on-the-move-compound-the-philadelphia-special-investigation-commission-added.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Source: <a href="https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/2019/8/8/20747198/philadelphia-bombing-1985-move">Vox</a> </em></p></p><br/><br/><h3>The bomb then sparked a blaze that was left to rage by authorities until there were 11 deaths, including those of five children, and 61 homes destroyed.</h3><img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/5fb7a2d232f2170011f703e9-400-300/the-bomb-then-sparked-a-blaze-that-was-left-to-rage-by-authorities-until-there-were-11-deaths-including-those-of-five-children-and-61-homes-destroyed.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Source: <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/nov/13/philadelphia-1985-move-bombing-apology">The Guardian</a></em></p></p><br/><br/><h3>The mostly Black neighborhood block surrounding the MOVE headquarters was also completely destroyed with bodies buried amongst the rubble.</h3><img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/5fba4ddd50e71a0011556b0c-400-300/the-mostly-black-neighborhood-block-surrounding-the-move-headquarters-was-also-completely-destroyed-with-bodies-buried-amongst-the-rubble.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Source: <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/05/13/406243272/im-from-philly-30-years-later-im-still-trying-to-make-sense-of-the-move-bombing">NPR</a></em></p></p><br/><br/><h3>There were two survivors: 13-year-old Birdie Africa and 30-year-old Ramona Africa. She was immediately arrested on rioting and conspiracy charges.</h3><img src="https://static4.businessinsider.com/image/5fb79b2b50e71a001155667a-400-300/there-were-two-survivors-13-year-old-birdie-africa-and-30-year-old-ramona-africa-she-was-immediately-arrested-on-rioting-and-conspiracy-charges.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>She served seven years while Birdie Africa, who later took the name Michael Moses Ward, died in 2013.</p><p><em>Source: <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/michael-moses-ward-aka-birdie-africa-a-survivor-of-85-philadelphia-bombing-dies/2013/09/27/f56ea4a6-27a3-11e3-ad0d-b7c8d2a594b9_story.html">The Washington Post</a></em></p></p><br/><br/><h3>MOVE was foundedin 1972 by Vincent Leaphart, a Korean War veteran who took the name John Africa to demonstrate his reverence for the continent.</h3><img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/5fb7a0ea32f2170011f703e4-400-300/move-was-foundedin-1972-by-vincent-leaphart-a-korean-war-veteran-who-took-the-name-john-africa-to-demonstrate-his-reverence-for-the-continent.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The group had a mixed relationship with their neighbors and the local community but frequently had run-ins with law enforcement.</p><p><em>Source: <a href="https://www.teenvogue.com/story/history-black-radical-group-move-infamous-bombing-by-police">Teen Vogue</a></em></p></p><br/><br/><h3>In 1978, MOVE engaged in a 15-month standoff with then-Mayor Frank Rizzo who ordered them to vacate their original home for 'violating city ordinance rules.'</h3><img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/5fb7a3df32f2170011f703eb-400-300/in-1978-move-engaged-in-a-15-month-standoff-with-then-mayor-frank-rizzo-who-ordered-them-to-vacate-their-original-home-for-violating-city-ordinance-rules.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>He had a notoriously poor relationship with the black community&nbsp;and&nbsp;MOVE began to arm themselves.</p><p><em>Source:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.google.co.uk/search'client=safari&amp;ei=Awi4X871K9GigQbHyJXYCw&amp;q=Vox+News+MOVE&amp;oq=Vox+News+MOVE&amp;gs_lcp=CgZwc3ktYWIQAzIJCAAQyQMQDRAeMggIABAIEA0QHjoFCCEQoAE6CAguEJECEJMCOgsILhDHARCvARCRAjoECAAQQzoOCC4QsQMQgwEQxwEQowI6AgguOggIABCxAxCDAToICAAQyQMQkQI6CAguELEDEIMBOgoILhDHARCvARBDOgcIABCxAxBDOgIIADoKCAAQsQMQyQMQCjoECAAQCjoHCAAQyQMQQzoHCC4QsQMQQzoKCC4QxwEQowIQQzoKCAAQsQMQgwEQQzoFCAAQsQM6CAguEMcBEK8BOggIABCxAxDJAzoFCAAQyQM6BggAEBYQHjoJCAAQyQMQFhAeUK4TWMAxYJczaAJwAHgAgAGqAYgB8w6SAQQxMC44mAEAoAEBqgEHZ3dzLXdperABAMABAQ&amp;sclient=psy-ab&amp;ved=0ahUKEwiOg6vC3ZHtAhVRUcAKHUdkBbsQ4dUDCAw&amp;uact=5">Vox</a></em></p></p><br/><br/><h3>It culminated in the death of Police Officer James Ramp who was fatally shot during a confrontation in Powelton Village, Philadelphia on August 8, 1978.</h3><img src="https://static5.businessinsider.com/image/5fb7a26332f2170011f703e8-400-300/it-culminated-in-the-death-of-police-officer-james-ramp-who-was-fatally-shot-during-a-confrontation-in-powelton-village-philadelphia-on-august-8-1978.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Nine members of MOVE received life sentences&nbsp;for the incident which also injured 13 others and&nbsp;became known as the MOVE 9.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Source: <a href="https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/2019/8/8/20747198/philadelphia-bombing-1985-move">Vox</a></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p><br/><br/><h3>The beating of MOVE member, Delbert Africa, which ensued after the shooting was caught on camera and became an infamous example of police brutality.</h3><img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/5fb7e07032f2170011f704ac-400-300/the-beating-of-move-member-delbert-africa-which-ensued-after-the-shooting-was-caught-on-camera-and-became-an-infamous-example-of-police-brutality.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>He always maintained in innocence and was released on January 18, 2020 after spending almost 32 years behind bars. He died in June.</p><p><em>Source: <a href="https://whyy.org/articles/delbert-africa-longtime-move-member-recently-released-from-prison-has-died/">WHYY</a></em></p></p><br/><br/><h3>Philadelphia's first Black mayor, Wilson Goode gave the order to evict MOVE from Osage Avenue where they had been based for the past three years.</h3><img src="https://static4.businessinsider.com/image/5fb7a80650e71a001155668f-400-300/philadelphias-first-black-mayor-wilson-goode-gave-the-order-to-evict-move-from-osage-avenue-where-they-had-been-based-for-the-past-three-years.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>He has since apologised four times and wrote in&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/10/when-i-was-mayor-philadelphia-bombed-civilians-its-time-for-the-city-to-apologise" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-analytics-module="body_link" data-analytics-post-depth="60" data-uri="d090a8b3f74a8dc0fc7144f78d2a0dc9">The Guardian</a>: "The event will remain in my conscience for the rest of my life."</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p><br/><br/><h3>In 1988, a grand jury cleared then-Mayor Wilson Goode and other top city officials of criminal liability for death and destruction resulting from the incident.</h3><img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/5fb7aa7f32f2170011f703f4-400-300/in-1988-a-grand-jury-cleared-then-mayor-wilson-goode-and-other-top-city-officials-of-criminal-liability-for-death-and-destruction-resulting-from-the-incident.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Gregore J. Sambor, the Police Commissioner who directed the bombing resigned in November 1985.</p><p><em>Source: <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/13/us/philadelphia-bombing-apology-move.html">The New York Times</a></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p><br/><br/><h3>After founder John Africa died in the bombing, Ramona Africa became the group's spokesperson and continues to advocate for the still imprisoned MOVE 9.</h3><img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/5fb8009732f2170011f7058c-400-300/after-founder-john-africa-died-in-the-bombing-ramona-africa-became-the-groups-spokesperson-and-continues-to-advocate-for-the-still-imprisoned-move-9.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>She was awarded $1.5m in damages while John Africa's family who also lost his nephew received $1m.</p><p><em>Source:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cnn.com/US/9606/24/move.vertict/">The Baltimore Sun</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p><br/><br/><h3>MOVE members, many of who are the descendants of the originals, still live together in West Philadelphia and participate in peaceful protests throughout the US.</h3><img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/5fb7999b32f2170011f703d9-400-300/move-members-many-of-who-are-the-descendants-of-the-originals-still-live-together-in-west-philadelphia-and-participate-in-peaceful-protests-throughout-the-us.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Source: <a href="https://medium.com/@the_new_next/35-years-later-and-philly-is-still-haunted-by-the-move-bombing-9e49285e227a">The New Next</a> </em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Philadelphia City Council voted to formally apologize for the bombing this month, 35 years after it happened. It also agreed to an annual remembrance on May 13.</h3><img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/5fb8051650e71a001155685f-400-300/philadelphia-city-council-voted-to-formally-apologize-for-the-bombing-this-month-35-years-after-it-happened-it-also-agreed-to-an-annual-remembrance-on-may-13.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The vote was introduced by Councillor Jamie Gauthier who grew up close to where the attck occured and whose district also includes it.</p><p><em>Source: <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/nov/13/philadelphia-1985-move-bombing-apology">The Guardian</a> </em></p></p><br/><br/><h3>The statue of then-Mayor Frank Rizzo who ordered MOVE to vacate their original home for 'violating city ordinance rules' in 1978 has been taken down.</h3><img src="https://static3.businessinsider.com/image/5fb931dc50e71a0011556aa1-400-300/the-statue-of-then-mayor-frank-rizzo-who-ordered-move-to-vacate-their-original-home-for-violating-city-ordinance-rules-in-1978-has-been-taken-down.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It was removed from Thomas Paine Plaza, Philadelphia on June 3, 2o20 amid the Black Lives Matter protests in the city.</p><p><em>Source: <a href="https://www.inquirer.com/news/live/philadelphia-protest-news-live-george-floyd-minneapolis-looting-stores-police-20200603.html">The Philadelphia Inquirer</a> </em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p><br/><br/>
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