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MOVE or the MOVE Organization (though the name is not an acronym, it is spelled by followers in capital letters) is an organization formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1972 by John Africa and Donald Glassey. MOVE was described by CNN as "a loose-knit, mostly black group whose members all adopted the surname Africa, advocated a 'back-to-nature' lifestyle and preached against technology."[1] Following a deadly standoff with police in 1978, nine MOVE members were sentenced to prison for third degree murder. The group came to international attention in 1985 after an attempt by the Philadelphia Police Department to enforce arrest warrants escalated dramatically. The police dropped a bomb from a helicopter onto the rooftop of the MOVE residence. The resulting fire was allowed to burn. This resulted in the deaths of six adults and five children.[2]


[edit] History

[edit] Origins and belief system

MOVE was created by John Africa, a charismatic leader, himself illiterate, dictated a document known as The Guideline (sic) to Donald Glassey. Africa and his followers, most of them black, wore their hair in dreadlocks and advocated a radical form of green politics and a return to hunter-gatherer society while stating their opposition to science, medicine and technology. They believed that chewing garlic, for example, would suffice as a remedy in place of modern western medicine. As John Africa himself had done, his devotees also changed their surnames in reverence to what they regarded as their mother continent.

[edit] Activities prior to 1978

The MOVE members lived in a commune in a house owned by Donald Glassey in the Powelton Village section of West Philadelphia. MOVE members staged bullhorn-amplified, profanity-laced demonstrations against institutions which they opposed morally, such as zoos, and speakers whose views they opposed. MOVE made compost piles of garbage and human waste in their yards, attracting rats and cockroaches. Considering it morally wrong to kill them with pest control, they attracted much hostility from their neighbors. Their actions brought close scrutiny from the Philadelphia police.[citation needed]

[edit] 1978 incident

In 1978, an end was negotiated to an almost year-long standoff with police. MOVE failed to relocate as required by the court order.[3] When the police later attempted entry, Philadelphia police officer James J. Ramp was killed in a shootout. Seven other police officers, five firefighters, three MOVE members, and three bystanders were injured.[4] As a result, nine MOVE members were found guilty of third-degree murder in the shooting death of a police officer. Seven of the nine became eligible for parole in the spring of 2008, and all seven were denied parole.[5][6] Parole hearings will now occur yearly.

[edit] 1985 incident

Subsequently, MOVE relocated to a row house at 6221 Osage Avenue in 1985.[citation needed] On May 13, 1985, responding to months of complaints by neighbors that MOVE members broadcast political messages by bullhorn at all hours and about the health hazard of the compost piles, the Philadelphia Police Department attempted to clear the building.[2] The police tried to remove two wood-and-steel rooftop structures, called bunkers by the police, by dropping a four-pound bomb made of C-4 plastic explosive and Tovex, a dynamite substitute, onto the roof.[7] The resulting explosion caused the house to catch fire, igniting a massive blaze which eventually consumed almost an entire city block.[8] Eleven people, including John Africa, five other adults and five children, died in the resulting fire.[9]

Mayor Wilson Goode soon appointed an investigative commission, the PSIC or MOVE commission, which issued its report on March 6, 1986. The report denounced the actions of the city government, stating that "Dropping a bomb on an occupied row house was unconscionable."[10]

In a 1996 civil suit in U.S. federal court, a jury ordered the City of Philadelphia and two former city officials to pay $1.5 million to a survivor and relatives of two people killed in the incident. The jury found that the city used excessive force and violated the members' constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure.[9]

[edit] References in music

Songs that mention the MOVE Organization include:

The Roof is on Fire, by Rock Master Scott and the Dynamic Three, is commonly assumed to have been inspired by this incident, but the single predated the MOVE bombing by a year. The song's chorus eerily predicted the site of the MOVE house, its roof on fire and billowing smoke, and was used as a rally during the ensuing protests near the site of the bombing.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Philadelphia, city officials ordered to pay $1.5 million in MOVE case; June 24, 1996; CNN
  2. ^ a b Account of 1985 incident from USA Today
  3. ^ "Nose to Nose: Philadelphia confronts a cult". TIME magazine. August 14, 1978.,9171,946962,00.html. Retrieved on 2007-05-20. 
  4. ^ ""Surrender Immediately"". TIME magazine Nine members of the organization were sentenced to a minimum of thirty years for third degree murder.. August 21, 1978.,9171,919800,00.html. Retrieved on 2007-05-20. 
  5. ^ Emilie Lounsberry (February 28, 2008). ""MOVE members due for parole hearing"". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved on 2008-03-05. 
  6. ^ Lounsberry, Emilie (June 5, 2008), ""MOVE members denied parole"", The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper: B06 
  7. ^ Brian Jenkins (April 2, 1996). "MOVE siege returns to haunt city". Retrieved on 2008-08-01. 
  8. ^ Frank Trippett (May 27, 1985). "It Looks Just Like a War Zone". TIME magazine.,9171,956982,00.html. Retrieved on 2009-02-15. "The Move property on Osage Avenue had become notorious for its abundant litter of garbage and human waste and for its scurrying rats and dozens of dogs. Bullhorns blared forth obscene tirades and harangues at all times of day and night. Move members customarily kept their children out of both clothes and school. They physically assaulted some neighbors and threatened others." 
  9. ^ a b "Philadelphia Held Liable For Firebomb Fatal to 11". The New York Times. June 25, 1996. 
  10. ^ "Philadelphia Special Investigation (MOVE) Commission Manuscript Collection". Retrieved on 2008-04-12. 

[edit] Further reading

[edit] External links

[edit] Pro-MOVE

[edit] Anti-MOVE

[edit] News media

[edit] Primary sources

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