Last week we got a chance to peep the new documentary ‘Let the Fire Burn‘ which chronicles the MOVE Organization out of Philadelphia and the set of tragic events that took place on Osage Avenue May 13th 1985 when the City’s first African-American Mayor Wilson Goode allowed a bomb to be dropped on their headquarters.. The end result was 11 people killed including 5 children..
The movie gives a run down of some of the conflicts in the 1970s between MOVE members and the Philly’s notorious police department and former police commissioner turned Mayor Frank Rizzo who was a tyrant of a man. The film shows the infamous confrontation in 1978 which left one police officer named James Ramp, dead. MOVE members maintained it was ‘friendly fire‘ by the police who killed the officer, Philly police saw it differently.. A brutal beating of MOVE member Delbert Africa was caught on film as he surrendered himself to police with his hands up. 9 MOVE members were convicted for the killing of Ramp and given long prison sentences which continue to this day..
That conflict cemented the turbulent relationship between MOVE members and police which came to boiling point in 1985..Let the Fire Burn shows in grisly detail what went down that day including the Mayor ordering the fire department to let the fire burn resulting in 61 Non Move houses burn to the ground..
The movie also shows the community commission hearings that were held after the bombing whose members were hand-picked by Mayor Goode. They concluded, the Mayor, the City and the police were negligent..
We spoke with Ramona who is the only surviving member of that bombing who gave us an in-depth, insightful break down about MOVE, how and why they were founded by John Africa who was killed in the 85 bombing. She talked at length about the organization’s philosophies and what she experienced the day of the bombing..
Let the Fire Burn leaves one with many questions that needed to be answered and thankfully Ramona was able to fill in all the crucial gaps and then some.. She also talked about the recent passing of Birdie Africa (Michael Ward) who was prominently featured in the documentary. He was the only other survivor and was around 13 at the time of the bombing. His mom died in the fire.
Ramona also talks about a crucial part in the documentary where questions were raised as to why MOVE members would turn around and run back into a burning home. She talks at length about how the police had fired over 10 rounds and as MOVE members attempted to leave the burning building, police began firing on them forcing many to retreat..
During our conversation with Roman Africa we talked about how the bombing on Osage Avenue had been literally written out of history books along with another tragic bombing of African American homes which took place in 1921 in Tulsa, Oklahoma which was then called Black Wall street.
Ramona Africa concluded by telling us what happened to the 65 innocent families who lost their homes and how the city screwed them over in major way. She also alerted us to a media smear campaign that is currently going on with local media in Philadelphia designed to take away from many of important questions raised in the movie..You can check out film’s trailer and the interview we did with Ramona Africa at the links below…