sources: The Inquirer
published: 8 May 2021
On May 13, 1985, the City of Philadelphia bombed its own citizens. Officials used a Pennsylvania State Police helicopter to drop military-grade plastic explosive from a helicopter onto a rowhouse on Osage Avenue, starting a fire that killed six adults and five children.
The house was headquarters and home to members of the Black liberation group MOVE. After the bombing, the city infamously “let the fire burn” until it destroyed 61 adjacent homes over three city blocks.
Philadelphia City Council members made a formal apology for the MOVE bombing last fall and committed to an annual day of remembrance beginning May 13, 2021. They hope these steps will help the city begin to heal.
But this story does not start, or end, in Philadelphia. It is an American story, and Philly can’t heal until America does.
When the city decided to bomb MOVE, it followed a widespread and long-standing American practice: using tactics of war to silence, remove, and erase the existence of entire Black communities from their land.
Philadelphia’s day of remembrance is an opportunity for America to face this horrific pattern. It is also an opportunity for our nation to end the silence surrounding attacks by government on its own people, and to heal the intergenerational trauma that Black Americans suffer because of that silence.