25 years later, MOVE Disaster remembered

Thursday, May 13, 2010
MOVE Disaster: 25 years later MOVE The MOVE disaster The MOVE disaster Ramona Africa Ramona Africa

On this day 25 years ago, Philadelphia police dropped a bomb onto the roof of a house on Osage Avenue creating what would quickly become known as the MOVE Disaster.

Efforts at evicting members of the MOVE organization from 6221 Osage Avenue failed and that's when the city resorted to explosives.

The police bomb made of c-4 explosive provided by the FBI set off the fire that police commanders ordered firefighters not to put out. This led to the death of 11 MOVE members, 5 of them children.

In the end, 61 row homes were destroyed and 250 people were left homeless.

The city's failed efforts to make the MOVE neighbors whole again is symbolized by the rebuilt houses that stand today. $16-million went to corrupt builders, some of whom went to jail. Most of the houses remain boarded up, not fit for occupancy.

"All 61 reconstructed house were done below standard," Osage Avenue resident Gerald Renfrow said.

MOVE says they are rebuilding with the same themes as a quarter century ago. They believe city officials should be held accountable for the 11 deaths, not MOVE's lifestyle.

The lone adult MOVE survivor from May 13, 1985 is Ramona Africa.

"We're marking 25 years since the bombing and murder of innocent MOVE men, women, babies, our animals," Africa said.

"This wouldn't have happened in a white, middleclass neighborhood, it definitely would not have happened, but it happened in a black, middleclass neighborhood," attorney Michael Coard said.

Much of the collateral damage still lingers like the rancid smell from the May 13th inferno.

However, former Philadelphia mayor Wilson Goode feels enough time has passed for all to look to the future. "The city has moved on and moved on very well, so should the people involved move on, as well," former Philadelphia mayor Wilson Goode said.

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