By Christopher “Flood the Drummer®” Norris
5.12.16: Philadelphia – (Politics): Memorials – like the grandiose nod to the destroyed World Trade Centers in New York City or the impending $4.5 million Holocaust Memorial Plaza in Philadelphia that, according to 6abc, will be built around the existing monument to six million Jewish martyrs – serve as ever-present reminders and, in some instances, educators of an historical event that impacted large numbers of people. More than that, though, memorials are tributes, often well-deserved ones, to those who have departed the Earth at no choice of their own; they, too, sometimes, act as a mild comforter to those who are grieving as a result.
And at large, memorials ensure events and their impact on society can never be denied or diluted, the latter which often happens during the mainstream teaching and learning of American slavery: for example, McGraw-Hill, a publisher, in an textbook referred to slaves as workers.
Though memorials are plentiful in America, those which evoke the remembrance of Black people’s suffering or sorrow appear to be far less prominent and ornate than that of their counterparts. When thinking of under-represented historical events that are as deserving as any to be memorialized, the MOVE bombing of 1985 in Philadelphia ranks among my top thoughts, as it is, arguably, one of the most egregious acts of police brutality in modern American history.
Tomorrow will mark 31 years since the Philadelphia Police Department, which even then was perceived as an occupying force who had the freedom to brutalize and terrorize others with impunity, participated in a mass-murder that, in addition to killing 11 black men, women and children, confirmed to some spectators the department’s sovereignty and incivility.
Never before, and never since, has one act of police brutality been so deadly and excessive. Prior to the bombing, which ignited a fire that eventually torched homes across several city blocks, 500 Philadelphia police officers fired more than 10,000 rounds into the Osage Ave row-home where members of the MOVE family resided and which is today, like other houses nearby, uninhabited.
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A man who spoke at the #Move30 rally last May said the perpetrators – the Mayor, the Police Commissioner, the Managing Director, the police officers and the firefighters who acted without urgency to extinguish the fire – engaged in the time honored tradition of using “the law as a weapon of war.”
Ms. Pam Africa, who at a September 2015 anti-police violence rally in Center City Philadelphia spoke the names of several loved ones who perished as a result of the 1985 bombing – Tree-Tree Africa, age 11; Delisha Africa, age 7; Netta Africa, who was 10; and Rhonda Africa, “an older woman” – condemned the police department here, saying:
“These mother*ckers have no respect for any life, no matter how old they are.”
As fresh as the memory is in the minds of those whose loved ones met their demise on May 13th, 1985, equally unaware of the event are many, both in Philadelphia and around the world. A memorial honoring the victims of the bombing would help to educate the local public and the broader world on this unprecedented act of violence, while also acknowledging the occurrence as a tragedy, and, more accurately, a day when government turned against its people in an act of genocide.
The former Philadelphia Police Commissioner, Mr. Charles Ramsey, when serving as the top cop in Washington, D.C., developed a training program, now in its 11th year, with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum that, according to the institution’s website, “examines the history of the Holocaust in order to help officers reflect on their personal and professional responsibilities.”
Whereas, the aforementioned program has been successful, one could only imagine that a memorial that examines the history of conflict between the Philadelphia Police Department and MOVE would help officers reflect on their personal and professional responsibilities, and what damage can occur when those responsibilities are abandoned.
The MOVE bombing of 1985 was a dark, deadly and disastrous day in Philadelphia which should never be forgotten and which deserves to be memorialized.
NOTE: This Friday at Abiding Ministries Church (57th & Washington Ave) there will be, in honor of the 31st anniversary of the #MoveBombing, a ‘Never Forget Forum.’
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Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
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