The Fire Department let the fire burn out of control, destroying 61 homes over two city blocks. 11 people died including 6 children. MOVE short for “The Movement,” and it’s largely unclear when it began; however, some people have reported remembering the group as far back as 1968.MOVE was a black liberation group that encompassed philosophies of black nationalism, anarcho-primitivism, & animal rights. The group was founded in 1972 by John Africa (Vincent Leaphart), a native of West Philly & veteran of the Korean War.
MOVE advocated a radical form of environmental politics, opposed science, medicine, & technology. They regularly held demonstrations against animal cruelty in front of zoos, puppy mills, & any institutional form of enslavement of animals, using bullhorns to propel their ideals.In 1985, police obtained arrest warrants charging 4 MOVE occupants with parole violations, contempt of court, illegal possession of firearms, & the City classified MOVE as a terrorist organization.On May 13, 1985, nearly 500 police officers arrived in force and attempted to clear the building & execute the arrest warrants.
When the MOVE members did not respond to exit their home, the police decided to forcibly remove the 13 members. Police lobbed tear gas canisters at the building & MOVE members fired at them. A gunfight ensued before Commissioner Sambor ordered that the compound be bombed.Two 1lb bombs made of FBI-supplied Tovex, a dynamite substitute, were dropped from a police helicopter, targeting a cubicle on the roof of the house. The ensuing fire killed 11 of the people in the house; John Africa, five other adults & five children aged 7 to 13.