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Throughout the '70s and '80s, the radical African-American MOVE organization had several dramatic encounters with police.

Throughout the ’70s and ’80s, the radical African-American MOVE organization had several dramatic encounters with police.

I’ll let Ryan Calhoun introduce the topic:

“30 years ago today the Philadelphia police department did this to the city they were supposedly tasked with protecting. They killed 5 children and 6 adults. They left hundreds homeless and seriously wounded. Entire blocks of people’s lives up in smoke, totally obliterated, incinerated, turned to ash and rubble. NO ONE was held accountable. No one could be charged with any crime. They wiped out a neighborhood, utterly fucking ruined people’s lives. A decade later the city paid out $1,000,000. A million dollars for a war crime. A war crime that has never and will never be recognized by the government as anything beyond mismanagement.”

If at this point, you’re thinking this sounds like conspiracy insanity, let me then direct you to NPR’s coverage of it from today:

The police launched a massive operation aimed at removing the group from its compound. After a days-long confrontation, with thousands of rounds of ammunition fired, the police dropped explosives on the Osage house from a helicopter.

The 2013 documentary, “Let the Fire Burn,” comes from the police, after dropping the bomb, “letting the fire burn.” Here’s a trailer (and my review will be up at some point later):

I don’t understand why this incident isn’t more known. I didn’t even learn about it until about a year ago. And yet, here it is. The only aerial bombardment of a U.S. city. By our government. On a black community. In 1985. And nothing. Nobody paid for doing so. Nobody paid for the death of five American black children. Nobody.

In a more extensive, personal look at the bombing, Gene Demby talks about the day MOVE was bombed.

City police had killed nearly a dozen people and, in the process, leveled an entire swath of a neighborhood full of middle-class black homeowners. Neither the mayor who approved the bombing nor the officers who carried it out faced any official repercussions.

MOVE

Photo showing the neighborhood where the compound of the radical group MOVE was located. Peter Morgan/AP

He continues:

It was chaos, and it went on like that all day — gunshots and explosions and well-tended homes nearby being shot up and blown apart. In the afternoon, Mayor Wilson Goode held a press conference and told reporters that he wanted to “seize control of the house … by any means possible.”

By the time the fire was finally under control, a little before midnight, 61 houses on that tidy block had been completely destroyed. Two hundred fifty people were suddenly, shockingly, without homes. It was the worst residential fire in the city’s history.

The MOVE fire of 1985 killed 11, including five children, and destroyed 61 homes.

The MOVE fire of 1985 killed 11, including five children, and destroyed 61 homes.

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