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Thoughts on killer cops and the May 13th, 1985, MOVE massacre

May 13, 2015

By JAAN LAAMAN
Almost every day the news hits us with another case of a man, a youth, sometimes even a woman, shot, choked, or beaten to death by cops.  Almost always the victims are people of color and usually the killer cop is white.  We are hearing a lot more about these cases, and that is probably because the brutality and killings are captured on video.  It is a lot harder for the government and mainstream corporate media to ignore these cases when the images are presented and seen on various social media platforms.

The sad and hard reality is that cops have been injuring and killing people, especially people of color for years and years.  Many of us might remember the names of some decades old victims: Clifford Glover, Eleanor Bumpers, Rodney King, Sean  Bell, so many other.

We are coming up on the 30th anniversary of probably the most horrid modern day police killing of 11 people, including 5 children.  On May 13, 1985, the Philadelphia police surrounded and besieged the home of the Move Family in a Black neighborhood in Philadelphia.  Move was and is a community and revolutionary organization that advocates for issues like natural and healthy nutrition, animal rights, opposition to government repression and corruption, including a long time exposure of and resistance to abuses and killings by the Philadelphia police department.

Rashid-MOVE

Art by Kevin “Rashid” Johnson

On that May 13 morning, 30 years ago, the cops surrounded the home.  First they fired tear gas, and soon they began shooting bullets into the house.  Over 10,000 rounds were fired into that house.  Neighbors and live TV media were watching this police siege and assault.  After some hours the police launched an outrageous and horrible escalation of their assault.  A police helicopter swooped down over the house and dropped a bomb on the roof.  The bomb exploded sending pieces of the roof and house flying.  The bomb also set off a fierce fire, which soon spread downward across the whole house.  The fire also spread to the houses on both sides of the Move home.  Although fire trucks were on hand, the cops refused to allow firemen to fight the fire.  Ultimately the entire square block of 61 houses burnt to the ground.  Dozens of families, over 200 people, had their homes and all their possessions completely destroyed.

As the flames were engulfing the Move home, a back door opened and some women and young children tried to run out.  Police opened fire on these women and children, driving most of them back inside.  Ramona Africa, clutching one young boy, Birdie Africa, ran through the bullets and made it out alive.  These were the only two survivors of this police massacre.
Eleven Move family members dead.  A bomb, made by the FBI and given to the Philadelphia police department, is dropped on the roof of a family home.  The bomb explodes and begins a fire.  The fire department is not allowed to put the fire out, and one entire square block of houses is burnt to the ground.
From this entire series of deadly and horrible events, how many people, would you suppose, were held accountable, faced criminal charges or went to prison?  One person, Move member Ramona Africa, who ran through police bullets and saved young Birdie Africa, was the only person who was charged and she went to prison for 9 years.  No police, government officials, fire department personnel, the cop who dropped the bomb or the helicopter pilot, were held accountable or charged with any crime.  11 people dead, 61 houses burnt  and not one cop or government official was held accountable for anything.
Police killings in Philadelphia and across the U.S. have continued.  But the public’s knowledge about such killings and people’s outrage and resistance has also continued, and in this past year has grown into a national movement against killer cops and government repression.
This Movement today is a proper memorial to the Move members and children who died 30 years ago.  We can never forget those who died and we must put an end to cops randomly killing, men, women and children.
This is Jaan Laaman, your political prisoner voice — until next time, remember, Freedom Is A Constant Struggle!

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