Philly Bombed Itself

The content below is from Episode 138 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast


  • This week I recommend you go back and watch some old home movies.
    • This past week as I was back in my home town area staying at my mom’s place, she mentioned she had dozens of DVDs that she had. Years ago she had our home video tapes (yes, actual tapes) converted to DVDs. I told her it would be easy to upload those DVDs to YouTube so our entire family could access them at any time.
      • She lit up! She got a laptop and a USB disc writer and by the time guests were showing up for Thanksgiving dinner I had uploaded hours of home videos.
        • My grandmother was GLUED to the TV as I played hours of us all living our lives back in the 90’s and early 2000’s.
  • My grandfather Patrick (Papa) passed away a few years ago and it was very special to show her videos of him. Now she can access those videos anytime.
    • If you don’t have home videos of your family then perhaps you can go back and look through some old photos with your family.
    • And I know home videos and old photos might bring up some old wounds for people. My parents separated ages ago and the videos we watched had them still together. But I would say it was worth it. I didn’t find myself wishing to go back to those days as a kid, but I did find myself being reminded of my childhood self. The joy, potential, and imagination I saw in my own childhood eyes woke something up in me. Not to mention, it reminded me how far I had come as a person since I was a kid.
    • It is a special thing, so I recommend you reflect on your past with home videos, pictures, or any way you can.


  • May 19th of 1985 the Philadelphia Police dropped a bomb on a Philadelphian residential block. They let the fires blaze for over an hour and a half before allowing fire and rescue to respond.
  • MOVE – Revolutionary movement founded by John Africa
    • MOVE, originally the Christian Movement for Life, is a communal organization that advocates for nature laws and natural living, founded in 1972 in PhiladelphiaPennsylvania, United States, by John Africa (born Vincent Leaphart). The name, styled in all capital letters, is not an acronym. MOVE lived in a communal setting in West Philadelphia, abiding by philosophies of anarcho-primitivism.[1] The group combined revolutionary ideology, similar to that of the Black Panthers, with work for animal rights.
    • The group’s name, MOVE, is not an acronym.[7] Its founder, John Africa, chose this name to say what they intended to do. Members intend to be active because they say, “Everything that’s alive moves. If it didn’t, it would be stagnant, dead.”[8] When members greet each other they say “on the MOVE”.[8]
    • When the organization that would become MOVE was founded in 1972, John Africa was functionally illiterate.[9] John Africa dictated his thoughts to Donald Glassey, a social worker from the University of Pennsylvania, and created what he called “The Guidelines” as the basis of his communal group.[1] Africa and his mostly African-American followers wore their hair in dreadlocks, as popularized by the Caribbean Rastafari movement. MOVE advocated a radical form of green politics and a return to a hunter-gatherer society, while stating their opposition to sciencemedicine, and technology.[10]
    • Members of MOVE identify as deeply religious and advocate for life. They believe that as all living beings are dependent, their lives should be treated as equally important. They advocate for justice that is not always based within institutions. MOVE members believe that for something to be just, it must be just for all living creatures.[8] As John Africa had done, his followers changed their surnames to Africa to show reverence to what they regarded as their mother continent.[6][11][12]
    • In a 2018 article about the group, Ed Pilkington of The Guardian described their political views as “a strange fusion of black power and flower power. The group that formed in the early 1970s melded the revolutionary ideology of the Black Panthers with the nature- and animal-loving communalism of 1960s hippies. You might characterise them as black liberationists-cum-eco warriors.”[13] He noted the group also functioned as an animal rights advocacy organization. Pilkington quoted member Janine Africa, who wrote to him from prison: “We demonstrated against puppy millszooscircuses, any form of enslavement of animals. We demonstrated against Three Mile Island and industrial pollution. We demonstrated against police brutality. And we did so uncompromisingly. Slavery never ended, it was just disguised.”[13]
    • John Africa and his followers lived in a commune in a house owned by Glassey in the Powelton Village section of West Philadelphia. As activists, they staged bullhorn-amplified, profanity-laced demonstrations against institutions that they opposed, such as zoos, and speakers whose views they opposed. MOVE activities were scrutinized by law enforcement authorities,[14][15] particularly under the administration of Mayor Frank Rizzo, a former police commissioner known for his hard line against activist groups.[13]
    • In 1977, three MOVE members were jailed for inciting a riot, occasioning further tension, protests, and armed displays from the group.
    • Local news broadcasts labeled the MOVE revolutionaries as unwanted, saying they lived in the city while acting as if it were the forest, ignoring modern plumbing, trash collection, and pest control. According to local news, MOVE wanted to overthrow the corrupt government and go back to a more natural way of doing things.
      • Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo gave an interview on camera stating the group should be in prison.
      • The media painted MOVE as vile people who spoke in obscenities and barked over a loudspeaker day and night over Osage Avenue (their headquarters).
    • Former MOVE member Ramona Africa states all of this is a lie. She says MOVE spent most of their time getting along with the local community and taking their children to the park.
  • When MOVE was accused of murdering a Philly cop (Officer Ramp) in 1978, the city went in with fire hoses and bulldozers to “evict” the group. Shots were fired and 9 MOVE members were arrested. They were given 30 to 100-year sentences. To this day, former MOVE members deny the movement was involved in the murder of Officer Ramp.
  • On May 13th, 1985, Mother’s Day, hundreds of police went to Osage Avenue and demanded the “bazaar back to nature group MOVE” to come outside and submit to the cops.
    • The standoff went on throughout the day. That night the police commissioner Greg Samborg got on the loudspeaker and said “Attention MOVE, this is America. You have 15 minutes to come out.”
    • Eventually, tear gas and water hoses were used to try and evict MOVE.
    • The members went to the basement to seek shelter, but then the water began to fill up the basement. Once the tear gas began to enter the basement, according to Ramona Africa, MOVE started to come out the front of the house with their children… but the cops started to shoot into the house. MOVE returned fire.
    • When the shots stopped there was silence for days. Ramona says it was quiet for so long that they thought they were safe and in the clear… that’s when the bomb dropped.
    • The house shook violently and then began to heat up from the bomb’s fires. When the smoke started to below into the basement the MOVE members knew their home was on fire.
    • The Police had dropped bombs to evict 1 family and would up burning down 2 blocks……
    • Police Cheif Samborg told the fire commission to let the fire burn… the media ate it up.
    • As the MOVE members began to flee their home with their children, the police open fired.
    • Ramona Africa, while burnt, was handcuffed and taken to the hospital. Meanwhile, bodies of her MOVE family were being discovered at the site.
      • 5 children and 6 adults
      • The only person arrested and put on trial was Ramona Africa…
      • The jury found Ramona guilty of Arson and conspiracy…
      • ARSON, the cops caused the fire and put one of the victims of their fire on trial and she was convicted…. 13 months to 7 years. She did the 7 years
      • $33 Million dollars of tax payer money was spent rebuilding the 2 blocks destroyed by the fire… The houses that replaced them were poor quality. Sinking foundation, leaking roofs, and poor electric work.
  • The firefight ended when a police helicopter dropped two bombs onto the roof of the MOVE compound, a townhouse located at 6221 Osage Avenue.[3][4] The resulting fire killed six MOVE members and five of their children, and destroyed 65 houses in the neighborhood.
    • The police bombing was strongly condemned. The MOVE survivors later filed a civil suit against the City of Philadelphia and the PPD and were awarded $1.5 million in a 1996 settlement.[6] Other residents displaced by the destruction of the bombing filed a civil suit against the city and in 2005 were awarded $12.83 million in damages in a jury trial.
    • Kids. The cops killed 5 kids. That is all I need to know to make up my mind on this matter.
    • I’m sure MOVE wasn’t comprised of only saints who wanted to be at peace with the world. I’m sure they were annoying to their neighbors with their loudspeakers and display of firearms. I don’t know all the details. I only heard what the media had to say and what a MOVE survivor had to say in interviews.
    • But the fact is that the Philly Police Department killed 5 kids.
    • They intentionally burned down 2 blocks of a predominately black neighborhood 64 homes of which had NOTHING to do with the conflict costing the taxpayer $33 million in damages… and they killed kids.
  • Ramona Africa is still alive today and has the burn scars from that night in 1985. She has been offered reconstructive surgery to remove the scars, but she refused. “Why would I want to take it off? I want to be reminded.”





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