He has since apologised four times and wrote in The Guardian: "The event will remain in my conscience for the rest of my life.". On the city side, they include Goode and Ed Rendell, who was Philadelphia’s district attorney in 1985 and who served the arrest warrants that led to the bombing (he later went on to become governor of Pennsylvania). Ramona Africa hugs Denise Garner during a commemorative march for the victims of the MOVE bombing in Philadelphia on May 14, 2005. Only two of the 13 residents of the Move house got out alive. Scroll down to find out more about the day the police bombed a black neighborhood. “We don’t want no apology,” she said. That's something that was also very striking to me. Now an effort at reconciliation is under way, Sun 10 May 2020 09.00 BST They killed five kids. They died a horrible death.”, Linn Washington, who reported the events for the Philadelphia Daily News, believes it is long overdue for a formal recognition by the city of the grievous wrong done that day. Then more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition were fired from police submachine guns. All rights reserved.For reprint rights. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR. The police commissioner called them ‘combatants’ – they were kids!”, Jamie Gauthier, the city council member who represents the area of Osage Avenue today, is one of several current elected officials backing an apology. KELLY: Yeah. This month Philadelphia City Council voted to formally apologize for their decision to approve a bombing. We failed, and it bothers me. City government leaders testify before the Philadelphia Special Investigation Commission on November 6, 1985. All rights reserved. MOVE members hold sawed-off shotguns and automatic weapons as they stand in front of their barricaded headquarters in Philadelphia on May 21, 1977, following reports they might be evicted. Each Move member took the last name Africa to signal their commitment to race equality as well as to each other as a family. The police commissioner, Gregore Sambor, critically and fatally decided “to let the fire burn”. Frank Powell is convinced the fire that killed 11 people and devastated the area was not caused by the explosives in his satchel, but by the Move residents who, in his narrative, set fire to their own home in a deluded desire for suicidal martyrdom. Since 1981, the building had been the headquarters of MOVE, a radical West Philadelphia group whose ideology combined Black revolutionary ideals with environmental and animal rights. Show from the left in the background are attorneys Jeffrey Miller and Carmen Nasuti representing Richmond. And so I was honored to work with the activists who really brought this to council to bring this about. Philadelphia City Council finally voted to apologize for their decision to approve a bombing, which left 11 people dead, including five children, in 1985, an outrage that has been all-but-forgotten. No explanation. The area surrounding Osage Avenue, Philadelphia burnt to the ground pictured on May 14, 1985. And that was before the bomb was even dropped. She told the Guardian how she and 12 others cowered in the basement of Osage Avenue as the house came under blistering attack. An earlier version mistakenly said the Move atrocity was only the second time in US history that American civilians had been attacked on domestic soil by aerial bombing. Yeah. GAUTHIER: There was no - there was never a formal apology. The bomb then sparked a blaze that was left to rage by authorities until there were 11 deaths, including those of five children, and 61 homes destroyed. It led to one of the great, largely forgotten, outrages of modern America. Jim Berghaier was on police duty in Osage Avenue that day and helped Birdie Africa escape the conflagration. At 5.27pm as the helicopter rose into a crystal-clear blue sky he carried out his orders. He died in June. “After 35 years it would be helpful for the healing of all involved, especially the victims of this terrible event, if there was a formal apology by the city of Philadelphia. Now Mike Africa wants to see the release of an associate of Move, the former Black Panther member Mumia Abu-Jamal who has been incarcerated since 1981 for the murder of a Philadelphia police officer. And I think over time, there developed a lot of friction between MOVE and the police in the city of Philadelphia. What was MOVE, and why was the city of Philadelphia so hostile to it? But there has never been a formal apology from the city. Ramona was badly burned in the fire. As the 35th anniversary of the bombing approaches, efforts are under way to increase public awareness of the atrocity. It also agreed to an annual remembrance on May 13. Pressure is also mounting ahead of the anniversary for an apology to be issued by Philadelphia. In 1988, a grand jury cleared then-Mayor Wilson Goode and other top city officials of criminal liability for death and destruction resulting from the incident. Wilson Goode, the first black mayor of the city, who approved the 1985 attack though he claims to have been ignorant of key aspects of it, has said sorry on several occasions. John Africa smiles with MOVE supporter Jeannette Knight as he leaves federal court in Philadelphia on July 23, 1981, after being acquitted on weapons and conspiracy charges by a jury that deliberated for almost six days. “They can’t make up for what they did, they can’t bring our people back who they murdered.”. People say to me, ‘But you didn’t know,’ but you can’t help thinking about it. Eleven people were killed. She served seven years while Birdie Africa, who later took the name Michael Moses Ward, died in 2013. The whole house shook.”. He had a notoriously poor relationship with the black community and MOVE began to arm themselves. Neighbors complained to the city for years about trash around their building, confrontations with neighbors, and bullhorn announcements of sometimes obscene political messages by MOVE … Janine Africa, one of the Move 9 imprisoned after the 1978 siege, lost her 12-year-old son Little Phil in the bombing. Philadelphia City Council voted to formally apologize for the bombing this month, 35 years after it happened. Ramona was able to flee through a basement exit along with just one child, Birdie Africa.