“Harm Is Still Being Done”: 36 Years After MOVE Bombing, Misuse of Children’s Remains Reopens Wounds

This week marks the 36th anniversary of the day the city of Philadelphia bombed its own citizens. On May 13, 1985, police surrounded the home of MOVE, a radical Black liberation organization that was defying orders to vacate. Police flooded the home with water, filled the house with tear gas, and blasted the house with automatic weapons, all failing to dislodge the residents. Finally, police dropped a bomb on the house from a helicopter, killing 11 people, including five children. The fire burned an entire city block to the ground, destroying over 60 homes. But the tragedy didn’t end on that day. We look at how Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania have used bones from one or two of the murdered children in their classes for years. “We still don’t know all the details about what happened in terms of the chain of custody,” says Abdul-Aliy Muhammad, an organizer and writer in West Philadelphia who helped bring the revelations to the public. “You can’t even begin to heal because the harm is still being done,” adds Mike Africa Jr., a second-generation MOVE member. “Everybody is just retraumatized.”

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