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May 13, 1985 and the Legalization of Murder (featuring a new video interview with Ramona Africa)

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The MOVE Commission wrote that "the firing of over 10,000 rounds of ammunition in under 90 minutes at a row house containing children was clearly excessive and unreasonable. The failure of those responsible for the firing to control or stop such an excessive amount of force was unconscionable."

Mayor Goode Refuses to Negotiate

As police ran out of ammunition and went to the armory for more, a quiet afternoon standstill began.

According to Philadelphia Tribune columnist and Temple University Professor Linn Washington, Jr., MOVE member Jerry Africa, who wasn't in the house, attempted to negotiate with Mayor Goode during the afternoon standstill. He wanted to tell Goode that MOVE would disengage from the confrontation if Goode would agree to an investigation of the Aug. 8, 1978-related MOVE convictions.

Jerry Africa was supported and accompanied by civil rights activist Randolph Means and former Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Williams, who at the time was the Democratic Party's nominee for Philadelphia District Attorney. According to Washington, the three of them repeatedly tried to call Goode on the telephone, but he would not take their call. Instead, Goode declared at a press conference that afternoon that he was now ready "to seize control of the house"by any means necessary."

Notably, Washington filed this story with the The Philadelphia Daily News, who he worked for at the time, but it was not published.

Dropping the C-4 Bomb

At 5:00 pm, Managing Director Brooks telephoned Mayor Goode and said that Sambor, in Goode's words, wanted to "blow the bunker off and to blow a hole in the roof and to put tear-gas and water in through that process." Goode's response: "Okay. Keep me posted."

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At 5:27 pm, a State Police helicopter dropped a C-4 bomb on MOVE's roof, which exploded and started a fire on the roof.

Challenged at a press conference later that week, Goode was unable to offer a straight answer: "If"someone called on the telephone and said to me "We're going to drop a bomb on a house;' would I approve that? The answer is no. What was said to me was that they were going to use an explosive device to blow the bunker off the top of the house."

Afterwards, Sambor continued to defend the decision to drop the bomb by arguing that the bombing was "a conservative and safe approach to what I perceived as a tactical necessity."

The MOVE Commission concluded that "dropping a bomb on an occupied row house was unconscionable and should have been rejected out of hand by the mayor, the managing director, the police commissioner and the fire commissioner."

The Commission also reported that "in January, 1985, an agent of the FBI delivered nearly 38 pounds of C-4, a powerful military plastic explosive, to the Phila. Police bomb squad. Delivery of this amount of C-4 to any police force without restrictions as to its use is inappropriate. Neither agency kept any records of the transaction. The FBI agent told the Commission that he "never had to keep any kind of records or anything' regarding C-4. Nor did the bomb squad keep any delivery, inventory or use of the C-4, or any other explosives under their control"Because of the absence of record keeping by the FBI and the Philadelphia Police Department, all the facts of the use of C-4 on May 13 may never be known."

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"Fire As A Tactical Weapon"

Initially, the fire was relatively small, but it was allowed to grow until it was eventually so large and powerful that it burned down the entire city block.

According to Mayor Goode, he first learned of the fire "at about ten minutes of six," at which point he contacted Managing Director Brooks, and ordered that the fire be stopped. On behalf of Goode, Brooks told Police Commissioner Sambor over the phone to extinguish the fire, but upon discussing it, Sambor and Fire Commissioner William Richmond decided to continue to let it burn. Richmond would later claim that Sambor did not tell Richmond about Goode's order. However, Sambor denied this and said that he did indeed tell Richmond about Goode's order.

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Over 40 years ago in Louisiana, 3 young black men were silenced for trying to expose continued segregation, systematic corruption, and horrific abuse in the biggest prison in the US, an 18,000-acre former slave plantation called Angola. In 1972 and (more...)

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