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Remembering the MOVE Massacre in Philly on May 13, 1985

  • Broadcast in Politics



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Philadelphia's Osage Avenue was the site of a horrific use of force by city police. After a long standoff, police dropped a bomb on the headquarters of a Black nationalist group called MOVE, sparking a fire that gutted a neighborhood and left 11 people dead. Five were children. The group preached revolution, advocating a return to nature and a society without government, police or technology. The group took up residence on Osage Avenue, a quiet tree-lined street of tidy row houses. On the morning of May 13, 1985, dozens of Philadelphia police, fire fighters and city officials amassed around the MOVE house to force the group out. A standoff ensued, as MOVE members bunkered down inside the house exchanged gunfire with police outside. At 5:30 that evening, a Philadelphia police helicopter dropped a bomb onto the roof of the house in an effort to drive MOVE members out. Accounts differ on why the fire wasn't snuffed out, despite the dozen fire trucks surrounding the block. Ramona Africa, the sole surviving adult in the house, says police fired on MOVE members as they tried to escape the burning house. Police say the MOVE members ran in and out of the house firing at them. Police ordered their officers and fire fighters to stay back. What is clear is that four hours la