(VIDEO: Part two of our May, 2010 interview with Ramona Africa. In this segment, Ramona gives her personal account of May 13, 1985. Watch part one here.)
May 13, 1985 and the Legalization of Murder
By Angola 3 News
On May 13, 1985, a State Police helicopter dropped a C-4 bomb, illegally supplied by the FBI, on the roof of the MOVE Organization's house at
The Philadelphia Special
Investigation Commission (The MOVE Commission), appointed by Mayor
Wilson Goode, documented that when the occupants of the house tried to
escape the fire, police shot at them, blocking their escape. In the end,
six MOVE adults and five children died. Ramona Africa and 13 year-old
Birdie Africa were the only survivors,
after successfully dodging the police gunfire.
The MOVE Commission concluded that the deaths of the five MOVE children "appeared to be unjustified homicides which should be investigated by a grand jury" (curiously the Commission did not similarly criticize the murder of the MOVE adults). However, two subsequent grand juries refused to press charges against any city or police official for murder or any other wrongdoing. In contrast, Ramona Africa spent seven years in prison.
Recognizing the racial implications of the
massacre, The MOVE Commission wrote that the day's many horrifying
decisions, including "the use of high explosives, and in a 90 minute
period, the firing of at least 10,000 rounds of ammunition at the house;
to sanction the dropping of a bomb on an occupied row house; and to let
a fire burn in a row house occupied by children, would not likely have
been made had the MOVE house and its occupants been situated in a
comparable white neighborhood."