Philadelphia march recalls ‘Day of Infamy’
Published May 19, 2005 8:57 PM
Hundreds gathered here
at Osage Avenue and 63rd Street on May 14 for a march marking 20 years since the
government dropped a bomb on the MOVE organization—a day that shall live
in infamy. On May 13, 1985, 11 MOVE members, including six children and five
adults, were killed in the resulting fire, which also destroyed 61
Philadelphia marchers on 20th anniversary
of police bombing of MOVE home.
Chanting “Never forget 1985” and carrying signs demand
ing “Free the MOVE 9,” marchers proceeded through West Philadelphia
neighborhoods and commercial districts, receiving positive support from people
along the way.
Speakers denounced the state terror that led to the
dropping of a bomb containing the powerful explosive C-4 on this residential
African American neighborhood on Mothers’ Day in 1985. Ramona Africa, the
sole survivor of the fire, was imprisoned on framed-up charges as a result.
FBI officers provided the explosive to the Philadelphia police—who
actually dropped the bomb. And fire department officials with the approval of
City Hall allowed the fire to burn unattended for more than 45 minutes, knowing
that children were in the building. Yet no government representatives were ever
Speakers at this year’s May 14 rally used the occasion to
demand freedom for the MOVE 9, members of the MOVE organization who were
unjustly imprisoned on murder charges from an earlier confrontation with
Philadelphia police in 1978. At that time, police moved against a MOVE compound
in the Powelton Village section of Philadelphia after a two-month blockade.
While police officer James Ramp died from a gunshot coming from behind police
lines, nine members of MOVE were convicted of the killing and given 30- to
100-year prison sentences.
The MOVE 9— Debbie Sims Africa, Janet
Holloway Africa, Janine Phillips Africa, Michael Davis Africa, Charles Sims
Africa, Eddie Goodman Africa, William Phillips Africa, Delbert Orr Africa and
the late Merle Africa—have spent decades in prison, despite ample evidence
of their innocence.
Michael Africa, Jr., son of MOVE 9 members, asked the
younger members of MOVE and their children to come to the front of the rally and
lead the march. “The state launched a murderous campaign of terror against
our family,” Africa said. “ But we are still here and we’re
not going to stop fighting these injustices.
“If the state had not
railroaded my parents and the other MOVE members to prison for a crime they did
not commit,” he noted, “There would have been no May
13th—there would have not been the need for it.”
the rally also pointed to the connection between this state terror against an
African American community in Philadelphia 20 years ago and the ongoing terror
of the U.S. military against the people of Iraq today.
government has provided constant examples of their willingness to beat, torture,
jail, bomb or kill any perceived threat,” Pam Africa, of the International
Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, told the gathering. “All
of us fighting for what’s right are a threat and a target. Our only safety
is to fight back!”
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