Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

MOVE Rejects Philly Democrats’ Cynical Apology

Three decades later, Philly Democrats apologized for the brutal MOVE bombing. It’s a cynical ploy by the representatives of white supremacist capitalism.

Jason Koslowski

December 15, 2020
Facebook Twitter Share
Black and white photo, a street in Philly with smoke in the distance due to the MOVE bombing.
PHOTO: Bettman / Getty Images

It only took 35 years, but the Democratic city government of Philadelphia has finally said “sorry” for the brutal, deadly attack on MOVE. 

The pathetic apology comes with a promise to dedicate the anniversary of the attack as “an annual day of observation, reflection and recommitment.” It’s a publicity stunt — a way to scrub  the Democratic city government’s image in response to the new documentary about MOVE on HBO, 40 Years a Prisoner.   

On May 13, 1985, Philadelphia police mounted a mass offensive against the Black, radical, and anti-capitalist organization, MOVE. That morning, the Philadelphia Police Department gathered in force to raid the house, attack and arrest the thirteen MOVE members living there. The police fired more than ten thousand rounds in the firefight that followed. 

And then the cops dropped two one-pound explosives — created in DuPont company labs — onto the MOVE house from a helicopter. The explosion and fire killed eleven MOVE members.  Five of them were kids between the ages 7 and 13.   

The fire engulfed 65 homes as it tore through West Philadelphia. Firefighters were told to let the fire burn — a message from the police commissioner to the Black radical struggle in Philadelphia. 

Last week, MOVE denounced the obvious PR move.

“If City Officials are sincere about rectifying the debacle of 1985, they would release our brother, Mumia Abu Jamal immediately! They can’t give us back our 11 family members they murdered in 1985, but they can give us back our brother, Mumia Abu Jamal, who has been in prison 39 years for a crime he didn’t commit and everybody knows this […] MOVE is saying that if Philadelphia officials think offering an apology is the answer, they should be offering apologies to the families of Walter Wallace, Winston Hood, William Green, and the families of countless other victims of police brutality and murder in the city of so call ‘Brotherly Love.’ We’re saying an apology without action is meaningless. RELEASE MUMIA ABU JAMAL! LONG LIVE JOHN AFRICA [founder of MOVE]!”

As MOVE points out, the apology is an obscenely cynical play by the Democratic city government. And the apology showcases a crucial lesson: Philadelphia is a Democratic Party-controlled city. And yet it was — and still is — the representative of the white supremacist ruling class of capitalism.  

While Abu Jamal sits in prison, Wilson Goode — the mayor who green-lit the bombing, refused to order the fire put out, and later lied about his role in the massacre — gives speeches at local churches and is heaped with honors by Philly Democrats. Russel Maroon Shoatz, a former Black Panther, is also still in prison. When Ant Smith, a prominent anti-police activist in Philly, was targeted by the federal government for arrest as payback for the massive anti-cop uprising in Philly this past summer, City Council had nothing to say. 

Neither did the “progressive” DA Larry Krasner, darling of the local DSA leadership. Krasner has also been totally silent about the cops who murdered Walter Wallace, Jr. and who still walk free. In fact, Krasner scolded the the people protesting Wallace’s murder for being “violent,” and he’s leading the prosecution of activists from the summer anti-cop protests.

The last 35 years teach us that the Democrats won’t be reformed into a better party. Local elections won’t fix this problem. Only a revolutionary struggle against the Philly Democrats, against their police force, and against the ruling rich can win real change.

Justice for MOVE! Justice for Walter Wallace, Jr. and all the many people murdered by the cops! Free Mumia! Jail all killer cops!

Facebook Twitter Share

Jason Koslowski

Jason is a contingent college teacher and union organizer who lives in Philadelphia.

United States

Liberal Towns in New Jersey Are Increasing Attacks on Pro-Palestine Activists

A group of neighbors in South Orange and Maplewood have become a reference point for pro-Palestine organizing in New Jersey suburbs. Now these liberal towns are upping repression against the local activists.

Samuel Karlin

April 12, 2024

“We Shouldn’t Let this Stop Us”: Suspended Columbia Student Activist Speaks Out

Aidan Parisi, a student at Columbia University’s School of Social Work, was recently suspended and has been threatened with eviction from their graduate student housing for pro-Palestinian activism on campus. Aidan talked to Left Voice about the state of repression, the movement at Columbia, and the path forward for uniting the student movement with the labor movement and other movements against oppression.

Left Voice

April 11, 2024

The Movement for Palestine Needs Independent, Working-Class Politics

As the brutal genocide of Palestinians continues with the help of the Biden administration, there is maneuver underway to co-opt the movement for Palestine. We need to have a democratic and independent movement that relies on the power of the working class, the student movement, and mobilizations in the streets.

Tatiana Cozzarelli

April 7, 2024
A hand holds a phone which displays the TikTok Logo

We Don’t Want TikTok Under Control of U.S. Capitalists — Put It Under the Control of its Workers and Users

The U.S. government wants to force the sale of the incredibly popular Chinese social media app. A TikTok owned by U.S. capitalists will only make things worse. We want TikTok under workers' control!

Nathaniel Flakin

April 6, 2024

MOST RECENT

U.S. Imperialism is Pushing Tensions in the Middle East to a Boiling Point

U.S. Imperialism's support for Israel is driving the tensions behind Iran's attack and the escalations in the Middle East. It is all the more urgent for the working class to unite with the movement for Palestine against imperialism and chart a way out of the crisis in the region.

Samuel Karlin

April 15, 2024

Thousands of Police Deployed to Shut Down Congress on Palestine in Berlin

This weekend, a Palestine Congress was supposed to take place in the German capital. But 2,500 police were mobilized and shut down the event before the first speech could be held. Multiple Jewish comrades were arrested.

Nathaniel Flakin

April 12, 2024

Fired by a German University for Solidarity with Palestine — Interview with Nancy Fraser

The University of Cologne canceled a guest professorship with the philosophy professor from The New School. In this interview, she speaks about Germany dividing between "Good Jews" and "Bad Jews," her politicization in the civil rights movement, and her time in an Israeli kibbutz.

Nathaniel Flakin

April 10, 2024

Pro-Palestine Activists in France Get Summons from Anti-Terrorist Police

As part of a repressive campaign against the movement for Palestine in France activists have gotten summons from “anti-terrorist” police. The movement for Palestine in the United States must oppose all repression of our movement here and in Europe.

Samuel Karlin

April 9, 2024