This week, the Philadelphia City Council voted to formally apologize for bombing the homes of the MOVE activist group, which left 11 people dead, including five children, and burned down 61 homes in 1985.
The measure was introduced by Jamie Gauthier, a city councilor who grew near where the attack occurred. Gauthier also suggested an annual remembrance on May 13 but that is being put on hold due to the ongoing pandemic.
Gauthier announced the passing of the measure in a tweet on Thursday, expressing relief that the injustices of that day are finally recognized.
MOVE was a Philadelphia-based organization formed by Civil Rights leader John Africa in 1972, with the goal of sparking a radical change in society by creating self-sustaining communities that lived according to their own rules and values. They also rejected the authority of the police and the federal government. MOVE crowdfunded the purchase of multiple adjacent homes in the city to build a headquarters, where members of the group lived communally and planned protests. Unfortunately, it was not long before they caught the attention of local police, who were threatened by their philosophy and their presence in the community.
Most mainstream coverage of this story highlights the fact that neighbors were unhappy with the living conditions in the compound, and it is often claimed that the police only became involved because they received complaints from concerned citizens who were uncomfortable that such a radical activist group was “in their backyard.” However, it is important to point out that this was during a time of great social tension when racists would often use police as a tool of violence against their darker skinned neighbors.
In 1978, MOVE had their first major standoff with police after the city attempted to forcibly remove them from their homes. When police attempted to enter the house to take people away, a shootout erupted, and Philadelphia Police Officer James J. Ramp was caught in the crossfire and killed.
Members of MOVE have insisted all these years that Ramp was actually killed by one of his fellow officers in a case of friendly fire, which is an extremely plausible explanation considering that Ramp was shot in the back of the neck. Seven other police officers, five firefighters, three MOVE members, and three bystanders were also injured.
Despite the fact that there was no evidence tying any particular person to the single bullet that killed Ramp, nine members of MOVE were each sentenced to a maximum of 100 years in prison for third-degree murder. One person was killed with one bullet and nine people were sent to jail for their entire lives.
After the conviction of these political prisoners who would eventually come to be known as the “MOVE 9,” the organization understandably became more militant and radical. Then, in 1981, the group established a new headquarters across town at 6221 Osage Avenue in the Cobbs Creek area of West Philadelphia. In addition to rebuilding their commune and staging protests, MOVE also set up a bullhorn outside of their headquarters that would regularly blast anti-government messages out to the community.
In 1985, after years of legal conflict, Mayor W. Wilson Goode and Police Commissioner Gregore J. Sambor classified MOVE as a terrorist organization and planned a full-scale raid of their headquarters. This time, police fully evacuated the entire neighborhood before moving in on the compound.
“There were nearly 500 police officers gathered at the scene, ludicrously, ferociously well-armed—flak jackets, tear gas, SWAT gear, .50- and .60-caliber machine guns, and an anti-tank machine gun for good measure. Deluge guns were pointed from firetrucks. The state police had sent a helicopter. The city had shut off the water and electricity for the entire block. And, we’d come to learn, there were explosives on hand,” one witness described the events to NPR.
After a standoff lasting several hours, police gave MOVE a 15-minute warning to surrender around 6 a.m. and they were met with gunshots from inside the building. That is when police returned fire, unloading over 10,000 rounds at the MOVE headquarters over the course of 90 minutes.
Next, the police dropped a bomb on the building from a helicopter, igniting multiple homes on fire.
Ramona Africa, one of the few survivors of the attack, spoke about her experience in an interview with Democracy Now in 2010, saying that:
“In terms of the bombing, after being attacked the way we were, first with four deluge hoses by the fire department and then tons of tear gas, and then being shot at — the police admit to shooting over 10,000 rounds of bullets at us in the first 90 minutes — there was a lull. You know, it was quiet for a little bit. And then, without any warning at all, two members of the Philadelphia Police Department’s bomb squad got in a Pennsylvania state police helicopter and flew over our home and dropped a satchel of C4, a powerful military explosive that no municipal police department has. They had to get it from the federal government, from the FBI. And without any announcement of warning or anything, they dropped that bomb on the roof of our home.”
Sadly, police behavior in the United States, and in Philadelphia, is not much better today than it was in 1985, which is perhaps why it is so important to remember and recognize these acts of police terror honestly, as city councilor Jamie Gauthier is hoping to do.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.