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City Of Philadelphia Finally Apologizes For Police Bombing A Neighborhood In 1985

Philadelphia voted to formally apologize for bombing the homes of the MOVE group, which left 11 people dead, including five children.

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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.

The aftermath of the MOVE bombing.

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.

News

Adam Toledo: Chicago Police Video Shows 13-Year-Old’s Hands Were Up When Cops Shot Him

Elias Marat

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The Chicago Police Department has released gruesome footage depicting the moment that police officers fatally shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo while his hands were up.

In new bodycam footage from the March 29 slaying, an officer pursuing Toledo can be heard shouting at the young boy to show his “f*cking hands” before shooting him a single time, leaving the boy covered in blood and gasping for air.

While the officer can be heard shouting “drop it,” the teenager appeared to have empty hands when he raised his arms in the moment before he was shot. Video also shows officers discovering a handgun near the scene.

Adam was later pronounced dead at the scene.

The video released Thursday by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability the footage from the officer who shot Toledo, along with 16 other body-warn camera video clips, two recordings of 911 calls, an incident report, and a response report, along with other materials.

The mother of Adam, Elizabeth Toledo, reported the boy one week prior to the shooting, although he did return hom on March 27 before leaving that night, reports WBEZ.  Because Adam did not have any form of identification, the family wasn’t informed by police about his death until March 31. In a GoFundMe page set up by Elizabeth, it was noted that one of Adam’s “dreams was to become a police officer.”

“It weighs heavy on our hearts to be planning our last goodbyes instead of watching him grow up and live out those dreams,” the family noted on the page.

The child has been described as having a “big imagination” and was a fan of children’s shows and zombie movies.

“Adam was really into zombies. And the zombie apocalypse. He even had this zombie apocalypse bag packed and ready to go. Some of his favorite movies and TV shows were ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,’ ‘Ghostbusters,’ ‘SpongeBob SquarePants,’ ‘Toy Story,’ ‘Cars,’ ‘The Walking Dead,’” Elizabeth told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has appealed for calm over the release of the gruesome footage while businesses in the area have boarded up their windows in anticipation of large protests.

“We live in a city that is traumatized by a long history of police violence and misconduct,” the mayor told reporters. “So while we don’t have enough information to be the judge and jury of this particular situation, it is certainly understandable why so many of our residents are feeling that all too familiar surge of outrage and pain.”

The release of the video comes amid continuing anger and grief over the April 11 shooting of Daunte Wright by an officer in a Minneapolis suburb.

It also comes as authorities fear a new wave of protests as communities await the outcome of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis Police officer accused of killing George Floyd last May after kneeling on his neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.

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Music

Lil Nas X Song Is #1 In Saudi Arabia, Where Homosexuality Is Illegal Under Sharia Law

Elias Marat

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Lil Nas X has been on top of the world for weeks now, whether it’s living rent-free in the heads of homophobes or topping the Billboard charts after his smash hit “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” dominated playlists.

And ironically, the anthem has become the most-played song in Saudi Arabia, the conservative kingdom where open expressions of same-sex love and even private acts of gay sex are punishable by death.

The song, whose video features the artist giving Satan himself a lap dance have dominated news conversations all over the globe, smashed through to the top of the Billboard Global 200, which ranks top tracks in over 200 territories, on Monday.

According to Apple Music, the song is also leading Saudi Arabia’s top 100 charts as the most-played song in the country.

Apparently overjoyed by the ranking, Lil Nas X tweeted: “WE NUMBER 1 IN SAUDI ARABIA WTF LETS GOOOO”

The autocratic kingdom, which has long been governed by a strict yet uncodified interpretation of Sharia law, has an atrocious record on LGBTQ rights and classifies homosexuality as a variety of extremism. N many circumstances, gay sex is punishable by death.

As the Human Dignity Trust explains, “The punishment varies depending on the circumstances: married men and interfaith sex are punished with the death penalty, while non-married men are punished with flogging. Sharia law principles underpinning the criminal law in Saudi Arabia also impose strict dress codes that impact on the gender expression of transgender people.”

However, this does not mean that Saudi citizens abstain from these “illicit” acts. As one fan wrote on Twitter: Period!!!! Let’s correct the narrative about the Middle East! Shoutout Saudi Arabia.”

However, another user responded: “I lived in Saudi Arabia my whole [life] and if I come out I will literally get stoned and people will be happy about it, saying it’s a ‘narrative’ doesn’t help anyone in the contrary, the middle IS homophobic and change NEEDS to happen.”

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Corruption

Cop Who ‘Accidentally’ Killed Daunte Wright Arrested on 2nd-Degree Manslaughter Charges

Elias Marat

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The former Minnesota cop who shot and killed Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old unarmed Black man, during a traffic stop will now face charges of second-degree manslaughter, a prosecutor announced on Wednesday.

The brutal killing of Wright, which comes amid the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for last May’s killing of George Floyd, threatens to spark a new round of nationwide protests against police brutality and discriminatory policing.

On Wednesday, Washington County Attorney Pete Orput confirmed that Potter, a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Department, would be charged.

On Wednesday morning, agents with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension arrested Potter, the bureau announced in a statement.

Potter was taken into custody in St. Paul and will be booked at Hennepin County jail.

On Tuesday, Potter resigned as demands for justice for Wright reverberated nationwide. Her resignation coincided with that of the city’s former police chief, who claims that Potter accidentally grabbed her Glock when she thought she was reaching for her Taser during the Sunday traffic stop.

Wright’s family and attorneys have rejected the claim that Wright’s death was merely the result of an “accident” and are demanding accountability and sweeping reforms of policing in Minnesota.

Potter could face up to 10 years in prison along with a $20,000 fine, per Minnesota law.

“While we appreciate that the district attorney is pursuing justice for Daunte, no conviction can give the Wright family their loved one back,” said Wright family attorney Ben Crump in a statement.

“This was no accident. This was an intentional, deliberate and unlawful use of force,” the statement added.

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