Day by Day

Friday, May 13, 2005


Today is the 20th anniversary of the assault by the Philadelphia Police Department and Pennsylvania State Police on the "home" of a radical group called "MOVE".

A state police helicopter this evening dropped a bomb on a house occupied by an armed group after a 24-hour siege involving gun battles. A 90 -minute shootout this morning came after a week of growing tension between the city and the group, known as Move. Residents in the western Philadelphia neighborhood had complained about the group for years. The only known survivors from within the house were a woman and a child. The fire spread to 50 to 60 other houses in the neighborhood, said the Fire Commissioner, William Richmond. He declared the fire under control about 11:40 P.M.
Police Drop Bomb on Radicals' Home in Philadelphia WILLIAM K. STEVENS Special to The New York Times 14may85


Twenty years ago this Friday, Philadelphia became "The City That Bombed Itself."

On the evening of May 13, 1985, in the Cobbs Creek section of West Philadelphia, police dropped explosives onto the headquarters of the radical group MOVE. The explosion started a fire that city officials allowed to burn.

When the blaze was out, 61 homes were gone and 11 people, five of them children, were dead inside MOVE headquarters.

The days that followed were a period of sadness and shame unlike any in the city's history, the start of a civic funk that lasted for nearly a decade.
Day that forever changed the city

I could see the smoke from my neighborhood.

What followed the event itself was an exercise in Old School Philly Graft, where the City paid a premium price to rebuild homes, and the rebuilt domiciles turned out to be of, shall we say, questionable quality. Some people got killed, some people got jailed, a few got fired, and a few lined their pockets.

After the Bomb

Life, as they say, "in the Big City".





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