If you lived in or around Philadelphia in the 1970’s you most likely remember or even witnessed the infamous MOVE standoffs. It is a long story and this month is the 25 year anniversary of the second even more deadly Osage avenue confrontation.
These confrontations had a long-lasting impact on Philadelphia and it’s two major municipal departments, Police and Fire. I trace our departments strong bonds back to these years.
MOVE was / is a left-wing, radical, back to nature group that terrorized their neighborhood for years. Over time they came into direct conflict with authorities based on complaints from the people who lived near their compound. Eventually the city moved in to evict and arrest the members of MOVE. This was after EXTENSIVE negotiations proved futile. Ironically MOVE’s politics though radical for the time is just about mainstream today. Most MOVE members would feel right at home in an A.C.O.R.N. office or would easily don an S.E.I.U. t-shirt.
As this incredible footage from the first, Powelton Village shootout shows, the police try every means possible to evict them peacefully, even bringing a priest to the scene. Firefighters are brought in to try to flood the basement where they were hiding out. Then the shooting begins. Two police officers and some firefighters are hit by MOVE gunfire. One police officer, James Ramp is killed.
In 1985 a second MOVE confrontation sees Philadelphia’s first African-American Mayor, Wilson Goode’s police department drop a satchel charge on the roof of their fortified row house from a State Police helicopter. (Notice the side bar picture) The aim was to destroy the roof-top bunker that was constructed there. The ensuing fire ended up destroying 63 houses and the neighborhood itself. The cities failed attempts to re-build the homes led to years of litigation and millions of tax payer dollars wasted. In effect it was a Waco type seige years before anyone ever heard of David Koresh.
To get a better understanding of this story check this LINK. There is a lot of YouTube documentary footage to be found.
Our local papers are typically liberal, big city rags. But sometimes they do a good job. Their documentary work is pretty good but you may see some bias in their reporting. Judge for yourself.