Philadelphia City Council Votes To Apologize For 1985 MOVE Bombing

Last week, the Philadelphia city council voted to formally apologize for the city-sanctioned 1985 bombing which claimed 11 lives and destroyed at least 61 homes. 

The bombing took place after police used a helicopter to drop explosives on a row house in West Philadelphia occupied by the MOVE organization. 

MOVE, a “back-to-nature movement” that sought the return of United States land to Native Americans was seen as an “authoritarian, violence-threatening cult” by city officials, according to a report by the New York Times.  

The city wanted to evict the group, and bombed its own citizens in an attempt to do so. The fire caused by the bombing claimed children’s lives and burned a significant portion of the neighborhood. 

After 35 years, the council’s unanimous vote is the first time the city acknowledged its actions. 

The measure, brought to vote by Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, includes marking May 13 as the official day of remembrance of the MOVE bombing. 

Gauthier brought the measure to the council in the days following the police shooting of Walter Wallace, Jr

“We can draw a straight line from the unresolved pain and trauma that day to Walter Wallace Jr.’s killing earlier this week in the very same neighborhood,” Gauthier said in an October speech. 

She continued, “Because what’s lying under the surface here is a lack of recognition of the humanity of Black people from law enforcement.”

Current Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, affirmed the importance of this resolution in a statement, “In an effort to learn from our past and do better by our residents in the future, this annual day of observation is a positive step in the healing process our city desperately needs.” 

Former Mayor Wilson Goode, who was mayor at the time of the bombing supported the move to apologize and took responsibility. In an op-ed published in The Guardian, the former mayor said, “Although I was not personally involved in all the decisions that resulted in 11 deaths, I was chief executive of the city.” 

“I would not intentionally harm anyone,” he added, “but it happened on my watch. I am ultimately responsible for those I appointed. I accept that responsibility and I apologize for their reckless actions that brought about this horrific outcome…I commend the Council for taking this step towards healing.” 

Photos: Getty Images

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