I don't know if anyone outside the Philadelphia area has ever heard of MOVE or Osage Avenue or what happened there on May 13, 1985. You can read the links up about and learn about it in detail. Essentially, MOVE was a group of nuts, a cult. No one has ever understood what their true motives and goals were. They all took the last name of Africa. Their leader called himself John Africa(his real name was Vincent Leaphart). They terrorized whatever community they lived in(first Powelton Village and then Osage Avenue). There were two major confrontations with the Philadelphia police. The first, on 08/08/1978 in Powelton Village. In that incident, cops moved to evict MOVE from their house in Powelton Village. This resulted in a shootout. A cop was killed. Many of the MOVE members were arrested for the murder of the cop and other charges. After that incident, the main of goal of the group was to free all of its members in jail, and they didn't care how they when about it or who they hurt. They moved to 6221 Osage Avenue. They terrorized that neighborhood. They set up bull horns on their roof and drove the neighborhood nuts with announcing their demands. They had raw meat sitting outside of their house, which attracted rats and flies and other insects. Those rats and insects, of course, got into the neighboring houses. MOVE turned their house into a bunker. They also had children which were not properly cared for. Neighbors reported that the MOVE children were picking through trash cans for food and were not properly clothed and I also don't believe they were receiving an education. It all came to a boil on May 13, 1985. The cops were finally going to remove them. They surround the house, got the neighbors out of their houses(so they wouldn't be in harms way), a gun battle started on that morning. It resulted in a standoff. It was on all of the local news stations. I watched part of the coverage that morning before school. It was the first I ever heard of MOVE. The coverage of the standoff is seared into my mind. It looked like a war zone. It was the first time I ever saw such a thing on live TV. I was 11 at the time. After I came home from school it was still going on. The city made a decision to drop a bomb on the house. The bomb was dropped at 5:27 PM. That bomb being dropped is also seared into my mind as well as everyone else's who lived in the Philadelphia area, at the time. It started a fire. The cops, for fear that the fire department would be fired on by the MOVE members still inside the house, kept the firemen back from being able to put the fire out. The fire engulfed the house, Depending on which side you believe, the MOVE members either refused to leave the house or were kept from leaving by gunfire from the cops. 11 people were killed, burned to death in the MOVE house. 5 of them were children. There were only 2 survivors, an adult female(Ramona Africa) and a child(Birdie Africa). The fire burned and destroyed 60 houses. Osage Avenue was on the opposite side of the city from where I lived. I lived(and still do) in New Jersey, across the Delaware river. Yet, I could see the smoke from the MOVE fire. It filled the sky in that direction. I will never forget the coverage of the event nor the smoke in the sky. 11 people died and 60 houses were destroyed. What's worse is that the city promised to rebuild the houses for residents of Osage Avenue, but when they did, it was quickly learned that the houses were junk. They quickly began to fall apart. The residents have been fighting with the city ever since. MOVE still exists and they are suspected of murdering John Gilbride Jr. in 2002. The murder remains unsolved to this day. Will there be future incidents with MOVE? Who knows. The groups isn't like what it was. It mostly keeps to itself and lives off the lawsuit Ramona Africa won from the City. They haven't been causing trouble, but who knows what might happen? Today marks the 25th Anniversary of the MOVE fire.
I am just curious how much people outside of the Philadelphia area know about the incident and MOVE.
I urge you to click on the links above. They tell the story more accurately and in more detail than I.
thoughts? reactions? comments?