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MOVE Crisis

Identifier: 07-SE08

Scope and Contents

On May 13, 1985, an ongoing conflict between the MOVE organization and the Philadelphia city government and police climaxed in an incident that claimed the lives of eleven MOVE members, destroyed sixty one homes and left 250 people homeless.� The photographs in the file chronicle the extent of the destruction resulting from the tactics employed against the MOVE organization by the city of Philadelphia.

MOVE is a loose-knit, mostly black group whose members all adopted the surname Africa, advocated a "back-to-nature" lifestyle and preached against technology.� In 1985, members of the group began blaring profane anti-government messages over a loudspeaker from their row house in an effort to free nine members who had been convicted of killing a police officer.

Police arrived at the MOVE home at 6221 Osage Avenue in West Philadelphia on the morning of May 13, 1985 to serve arrest warrants on four MOVE members, and were met with gunfire, authorities said.

Later that day, police dropped a bomb on the MOVE row house from a state police helicopter.� The bomb missed its target--a fortified bunker on the roof--and started a fire that burned an entire city block.

The civil suit, filed after years of legal skirmishes, named the city of Philadelphia, Police Commissioner Gregore Sambor and Fire Commissioner William Richmond.� In the verdict, released June 1996, Ramona Africa, the only adult to survive the fire, was awarded $500,000 for pain and suffering and injuries.� Relatives of the group's founder John Africa and his nephew Frank James Africa, who died in the incident, were awarded a total of $1 million.


  • 1985


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This collection is open for research.

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� Pennsylvania House of Representatives Archives, Office of the Chief Clerk.


0.25 Cubic Feet

0.25 Cubic Feet

Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged into three folders:� photographs, negatives and typed summary of the event.

Custodial History

Pennsylvania House of Representatives Archives.

Existence and Location of Originals

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Related Materials

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Repository Details

Part of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Archives Repository

628 Irvis Office Building
450 Commonwealth Avenue
Harrisburg PA 17120 USA