We’ll be doing – what else? – push-ups today, but first, a word about the 13th of May.

MOVE was a self-proclaimed radical, black liberation movement founded in the early 1970’s by John Africa. The Philadelphia group adhered to a “meet fist with fist” philosophy of self-defense in dealings with the police, though the years of confrontations between MOVE and Police-Commissioner-turned-Mayor Frank “I’ll make Attila the Hun look like a faggot” Rizzo were lopsided affairs: the police beat two pregnant MOVE women so viciously in 1974 that both women miscarried; in 1976 when 3-week old Life Africa was killed while her mother was being clubbed by the police, the police denied the baby existed until press were invited by MOVE to view the body; in 1978, the city set up a two-month long blockade of the MOVE residence, cutting off water and setting up an armed perimeter to prevent food from entering.

Forced to negotiate, MOVE agreed to leave their property within 90 days. Members did move out, but the property remained open as a school. The police secured arrest warrants, which were “served” by hundreds of SWAT police with bulldozers. When the police discovered MOVE members had barricaded themselves in the basement, the fire department deployed fire hoses to flood them out. Gunshots were heard – there is disagreement over whether the shots came from MOVE members or from across the street – and the police blind-fired 2,000 rounds of ammunition into the basement. Officer James Ramp was killed, likely by a bullet fired by another police officer. The mayor ordered the building to be immediately bulldozed, destroying the ballistic evidence that would have shown it was impossible for MOVE members in the basement to have fired the shot that killed Officer Ramp. Nine MOVE members were arrested and convicted of murder and attempted murder, and given sentences of 30-100 years.

The remaining MOVE members relocated their school and residence to West Philadelphia, where they lived for 5 years. Based on some neighbors’ complaints about the group’s political messages and the “health hazard” created by MOVE’s compost, the police secured an eviction order against the group, bolstered by arrest warrants made out for a willy-nilly slate of parole violations and contempt of court violations. On May 13, 1985, the police commissioner himself went to supervise the eviction, yelling through a bullhorn, “Attention MOVE! This is America!” before ordering his officers to throw tear-gas canisters into the building. Mistaking (intentionally, according to officers who later testified upon being granted immunity) breaking glass for gunshots, the police opened fire with automatic weapons and called in a state police helicopter. The helicopter dropped two military grade C-4 bombs into the MOVE townhouse,

The townhouse burst into flames. Firefighters were ordered to stand by idly while the fire raged. Eleven people, including five children, burned to death. The only survivor, Ramona Africa, was charged and convicted of conspiracy and riot. She served her entire 7 year sentence rather than renounce MOVE.

Today is the 30 year anniversary of the MOVE bombing. Multiple official investigations have found the Philadelphia police at fault for excessive use of force and other Constitutional violations, but the City of Brotherly Love has yet to apologize or even acknowledge wrongdoing in firebombing its own residents. All of the MOVE 9 remain in prison.

As for Wednesday’s challenge, we’re doing:

5 rounds:

20 push-ups
20 bent-over dumbbell rows
1 minute wall sit or handstand hold

Here is Lucille Clifton, about the bombing, and complicity –

Move
Lucille Cilfton

they had begun to whisper
among themselves     hesitant
to be branded neighbor to the wild
haired women the naked children
reclaiming a continent
away

move

he hesitated
then turned his smoky finger
toward Africa toward the house
he might have lived in might have
owned or saved had he not turned
away

move

the helicopter rose at the command
higher at first then hesitating
then turning toward the center
of its own town only a neighborhood
away

move

she cried as the child stood
hesitant in the last clear sky
he would ever see the last
before the whirling blades the whirling smoke
and sharp debris carried away all clarity
away

move

if you live in a mind
that would destroy itself
to comfort itself
if you would stand fire
rather than difference
do not hesitate
move
away