“Let the fire burn.” That was the order that Philadelphia police commissioner Gregore Sambor gave to firefighters as a residential home blazed on May 13, 1985.
Philadelphia police, with assistance from the Pentagon and FBI, had dropped a bomb from a helicopter on the home.
Inside the house at 6221 Osage Avenue were 13 members of the MOVE organization including its founder John Africa. Only two people survived: Ramona Africa and nine-year-old Birdie Africa.
Six adults and five children were burned to death. They were nine-year-old Tomaso Africa; 12-year-olds Little Phil Africa and Netta Africa; 13-year-old Delisha Africa and 14-year-old Tree Africa. And adults Conrad Africa, Frank Africa, John Africa, Raymond Africa, Rhoda Africa and Theresa Africa.
The Philadelphia Special Investigation Commission found that police fired “over 10,000 rounds of ammunition in under 90 minutes at a row house containing children.” The cops fired so many bullets that they had to get more ammunition from their armory.
According to author John L. Puckett, “Police were outfitted with M16 semi-automatic rifles, Uzis, shotguns, 30.06 and .22-250 sharpshooter rifles, a Browning automatic rifle, and a Thompson submachine gun.”
Tear gas canisters were used as well as high pressure water hoses. Ramona Africa reported that police shot at people trying to flee from the house.
This was a terrorist crime like the Ku Klux Klan bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Four little girls were killed there on Sept. 15, 1963. They were 14-year-olds Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and 11-year-old Cynthia Wesley.
Not one official was ever prosecuted for the Philadelphia atrocity that killed 11 people, burned 61 homes and left 253 people homeless. Instead it was Ramona Africa who escaped from the inferno with serious burns who was sent to jail for seven years.
Not satisfied with killing MOVE members, Philadelphia also tried to rob their dignity. Bones of the MOVE children were stolen and used in anthropology classes at the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University.
The MOVE 9
The capitalist government can’t tolerate independent organizations of oppressed people….