May 13, 2024 - News

New MOVE bombing exhibit marks 39 years since tragedy

Aerial view of smoke rising from smoldering rubble where some 60 homes were destroyed by fire.

The homes destroyed by fire following the bombing by police of MOVE's house in West Philadelphia . Photo: Bettmann/Getty

Monday marks 39 years since police bombed the MOVE home and devastated a section of West Philadelphia.

Why it matters: The city is still grappling with the aftermath of the tragedy that left 11 members of the Black liberation group dead and destroyed 61 homes.

Driving the news: MOVE will hold a day of remembrance at 5pm at the corner of S 63rd Street and Osage Avenue.

Zoom in: "MOVE: The Old Days" will feature archives and artifacts maintained by the group over the decades, including writings, items that survived the bombing and photos.

  • The exhibit runs Saturday and Sunday. Tickets: $13.

Context: On May 13, 1985, hundreds of officers laid siege to MOVE's rowhouse at 6221 Osage Avenue after a violent confrontation between cops and group members.

  • Police fired more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition in under 90 minutes.
  • Despite knowing about children inside, police dropped a bomb made of C-4 explosives on the house — with approval from city officials.
  • Law enforcement allowed the resulting blaze to burn out of control for over an hour.
  • Two people survived the bombing — Ramona Africa, 29, and Birdie Africa, 13. (Members of the group all took the same last name.)

No one was ever criminally charged.

What they're saying: "I hope people see what happened and use this history as an understanding so they can make change," Michael Africa, Legacy director of MOVE, tells Axios about the exhibit.

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