When Fran Opher’s mother, Pauline, died on March 8 at age 85, some Kingsessing Avenue neighbors took time to visit her daughter and note the passing of one of the block’s oldest residents. Opher was especially touched – but not surprised – by a “lovely floral arrangement” that came with a card signed “The Africa Family.” See Also The MOVE Disaster: May 13, 1985 That’s Africa as in MOVE, the radical, self-described back-to-nature group that figured so prominently – at times traumatically – in Philadelphia history over the last 30 years. The observations of Opher and other Kingsessing residents yield
On the evening of May 13, 1985, Philadelphia police dropped explosives onto the headquarters of the radical group MOVE. The explosion started a fire that city officials allowed to burn in the believe that MOVE members would flee the spreading fire.
When the blaze was out, 61 homes were gone and 11 people, five of them children, were dead inside MOVE headquarters.
Day that forever changed the city 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
$12.8M for Osage Residents A federal jury awarded $12.8 million to 24 residents of Osage Avenue yesterday after finding that Mayor Street and the city violated their rights in the wake of the bombing of the MOVE house 20 years ago. The jury’s verdict, and comments by some of the jurors, reflected sharp criticism of Street’s actions in dealing with the residents, whose homes were among 61 destroyed in the fire that followed the Mother’s Day 1985 police bombing. “We feel that he didn’t live up to the accountability and responsibility of his office,” said jury forewoman Cynthia A. Roberts-Tamm.
Twenty years after the MOVE bombing, the price tag for the debacle keeps rising, with a federal jury yesterday awarding the last 24 residents of the West Philadelphia block about $530,000 each and handing a stinging rebuke to Mayor Street. Of total damages of $12.83 million, the jury awarded the homeowners $1.68 million for harm caused by Street’s “arbitrary” behavior for canceling repairs to the rebuilt houses on the 6200 block of Osage Avenue. The award to each homeowner amounts to more than three times the $150,000 per house that Street wanted to pay residents in 2000 to move out
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Mayor John F. Street testified the city had a “moral obligation” to help families who lost homes in the MOVE fire, but he couldn’t answer key questions about its efforts to repair damage from one of the sorriest events in city history. On May 13, 1985, police trying to evict armed members of the militant cult MOVE dropped explosive from a helicopter, then ordered firefighters to keep their distance. The flames killed six adults and five children inside the MOVE compound and consumed 61 adjacent homes. Embarrassed city officials promised to rebuild, but the project lurched from
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Mayor John F. Street spent 90 uncomfortable minutes before a federal jury Thursday explaining how the city has treated families who lost their homes when police dropped a bomb on their neighborhood during a battle with the militant group MOVE. The explosion, on May 13, 1985, is remembered as one of the sorriest moments in city history. Police trying to evict armed members of the cult dropped the explosive from a helicopter, then ordered firefighters to keep their distance as flames killed six adults and five children inside the MOVE compound and consumed 61 adjacent homes. Embarrassed
The civil filing met a two-year deadline. No arrests have been made in the shooting of Jack Gilbride Jr. The father of a slain former MOVE member filed a wrongful-death suit yesterday in Burlington County against his son’s as-yet-unknown killer. Jack Gilbride of Virginia made the civil filing in state Superior Court to meet a two-year deadline after John Gilbride Jr.‘s highly publicized death. John Gilbride, 34, a baggage handler for U.S. Airways, was found after midnight Sept. 27, 2002, slumped over in his car with the engine running. Gilbride had been shot in front of his Maple Shade apartment
PHILADELPHIA – One day last spring, after Tony Allen decided he had wasted enough years in MOVE, he received the phone call he had been dreading. It was Sue Africa, MOVE’s longtime “minister of confrontation.” She was bitter, and she was brief. “You’re a traitor,” Allen said Sue Africa told him. “You’re worse than John Gilbride.” He gulped, then called his wife, Lori. The mention of Gilbride was chilling. Like the Allens, Gilbride spent years in MOVE before splitting from the group. Gilbride was shot dead two years ago this month, in a killing that remains unsolved. MOVE insists it
Seventeen days before he was murdered, John Gilbride testified in court that a MOVE supporter had threatened to kill him. Whether the alleged murder threat was investigated after Gilbride was found shot to death is anyone’s guess. The Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office will say nothing about the year-old, unsolved case. Neither will the MOVE supporter Gilbride said threatened to kill him. And though Gilbride’s parents spoke at length last month about their loss, they declined to comment about the alleged murder threat yesterday. John Gilbride was found shot to death in the parking lot of his Maple Shade apartment complex
The sparse evidence collected after John Gilbride was fatally shot last year outside his Maple Shade apartment yielded little to help the detectives searching for his killer. Neither did the interviews they conducted for several weeks afterward. As the first anniversary approaches, the unsolved crime continues to bewilder investigators, deeply trouble Gilbride’s parents, and infuriate MOVE, the radical Philadelphia back-to-nature group from which he had broken away and which feels unfairly labeled as the likely suspect. “We are in the usual mode with a case that is unsolved after a year,” said Burlington County Prosecutor Robert D. Bernardi. “And that