is an organization formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
, in 1972 by John Africa
and Donald Glassey. MOVE was described by CNN
as "a loose-knit, mostly black
group whose members all adopted the surname Africa
, advocated a 'back-to-nature' lifestyle and preached against technology
. The group came to international attention after an attempt in 1985 by the Philadelphia Police Department
to enforce outstanding arrest warrants for four members resulted in the police dropping a bomb containing C-4
from a helicopter onto rooftop bunkers
at MOVE's residence at 6221 Osage Avenue.
They lived collectively in a house owned by Donald Glassey in the Powelton Village
section of West Philadelphia
. Their actions brought close scrutiny from the Philadelphia police. In 1978, an end was negotiated to an almost year-long standoff with police, but MOVE failed to relocate as required by the court order. When the police later attempted entry, Philadelphia Police Officer James J. Ramp was killed and several people, including six other Philadelphia police officers and six Philadelphia firefighters were injured.
Seven of the nine MOVE members who were found guilty of third-degree murder in the shooting death of a police officer in 1978 were due for parole hearings in April 2008.
Subsequently, MOVE moved to a new location, a row house
on Osage Avenue, in 1985. Again, they were viewed as a public nuisance
. On May 13
, the Philadelphia Police Department
attempted to clear a building in which the MOVE members lived. The police tried to remove two wood-and-steel rooftop bunkers
by dropping a four-pound bomb made of C-4 plastic explosive
, a dynamite substitute, onto the roof. The resulting explosion caused the house to catch fire, igniting a massive blaze which eventually consumed almost an entire city block. Eleven people, including John Africa, six other adults and four children, died in the resulting fire. Mayor Wilson Goode
soon appointed an investigative commission, the PSIC or MOVE commission, which issued its report on March 6, 1986. The report denounced the actions of the city government, stating that "Dropping a bomb on an occupied row house was unconscionable."
In a 1996 civil suit in U.S. federal court, a jury ordered the City of Philadelphia and two former city officials to pay $1.5 million to a survivor and relatives of two people killed in the incident. The jury found that the city used excessive force and violated the members' constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure.
References in music
Songs that mention the MOVE Organization include:
The Roof is on Fire, by Rock Master Scott and the Dynamic Three, is commonly assumed to have been inspired by this incident, but the single predated the MOVE bombing by a year. The song's chorus eerily predicted the sight of the MOVE house, its roof on fire and billowing smoke, and was used as a rally during the ensuing protests near the site of the bombing.
- Discourse and Destruction: The City of Philadelphia versus MOVE, Robin Wagner-Pacifici, University of Chicago Press, 1994
- Move: Sites of Trauma (Pamphlet Architecture 23); Johanna Saleh Dickson; Princeton Architectural Press, 2002
- The Bombing of Osage Avenue, Toni Cade Bambara
- Attention Move! This is America, Margot Harry, Banner Press, ISBN:0916650324
- Let it Burn!, Michael Boyette & Randi Boyette, Contemporary Press, 1989