A follower of my Facebook page sent me something the other day that threw me for a loop. It was a screenshot of an NPR Facebook post that stated the following:
“Remember that time American law enforcement bombed U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, leaving 11 people dead — including five children — and dozens of bystanders’ homes destroyed?
If not, well, you’re not alone.”
The title of the linked article referenced the “The MOVE Bombing”, something that did not ring the slightest bell with me, so away to Google I went. Turns out, this incident occurred in 1985, in Philadelphia. In 1985, I was a sophomore in high school. If this was indeed what this NPR post is suggesting, I would think I would have at least heard about it, but still, not a clue. As I only had my phone at the time to do some limited research, I settled on the Wikipedia entry about the event. After reading just a few paragraphs there, I was already able to determine that not only was the NPR post entirely misleading, but what little I read of the actual NPR article was utter anti-cop propaganda.
“After my stories last week on the 30th anniversary of the MOVE siege in West Philadelphia in 1985, in which Philadelphia police dropped a bomb on a residential neighborhood, leaving 11 dead — including five children — we were surprised by how many people told us they’d never heard of the bombing.” – Gene Demby, taken from the NPR article.
Knowing my tax dollars fund NPR, I was now determined to do more research as soon as I got a chance, but in the meantime, I threw a quick post up on my FB page with a link to the article, which I would like to point out, is posted on the official NPR, tax funded website.
Well, it just so happens that one of the followers of my FB page was there, in Philadelphia, when this incident took place. He was 13 years old and specifically remembers the incident. He had this to say in response to my sharing the article:
“I lived just outside of Philadelphia when this occurred. I remember coming home from school and watching LEOs taking cover behind construction equipment taking and returning fire. I also remember Wilson Goode (Philadelphia’s first black mayor) authorized the use of the incendiary device*that was dropped from the helicopter [I watched that as well]. I watched them continue to fire on the police and the firefighters after the fire started.
I was in seventh grade when it happened. People can twist the events however they see fit after the fact (like so many other historical events that have been diluted to serve an agenda).” – Eric Terford
(* Minor correction to his recounting of the incident, it was not an “incendiary device”, it was a two pound breaching charge)
After reading his account, I was even more determined to get to the bottom of this. As if there is not enough anti-cop sentiment freely flowing from the liberal media right now, and from sources up to and including Barack Obama, I was extremely upset to see that my tax dollars were hard at work pouring gasoline on the raging inferno of anti-cop propaganda.
Now, before I begin deconstructing the tax funded anti-cop propaganda, sorry, the article, let me tell you what I have found about the actual incident. I will also say that finding an unbiased version of this incident is damn near impossible. Nearly every “media” source account is totally sensationalized. I found the Wikipedia entry and an article from 2013 on The Global Grind (once you get past the sensationalized intro) to be the best sources for factual information on the whole event. Specifics on the actual breaching attempt were found in an excerpt from the book, SWAT Teams: Explosive Face-Offs with America’s Deadliest Criminals.
What Happened That Day
MOVE was a black liberation fringe group who lived in a communal setting. And by “fringe group”, they make other fringe groups look normal. They were, at the time of this incident, occupying a row house in Philadelphia, which they had barricaded and reinforced, including the roof access. The group was referred to as a “terrorist organization” by both the mayor and the police commissioner at the time. Police went to the location to serve a number of arrest warrants for charges including weapons violation, terrorist threats, parole violations, and contempt of court. As the cops make contact, they begin taking incoming fire from MOVE members inside the barricaded building and a prolonged firefight ensued.
In an effort to gain access to the roof entry, police (stupidly I might add) decided to drop (varies by source) either a single two pound charge, or two one pound charges, from a helicopter onto the fortified entry. Before dropping the charges, they repeatedly tested the charges at their academy and determined it not to be incendiary (fire generating). The problem is, it appears that MOVE had stored gasoline and ammo in the roof bunker and when the charge was dropped, it ignited the fuel which started the fire.
Firefighters had already been shot at early on in this, so the police would not let them in to try and fight the fire because MOVE members were still actively shooting from inside the structure. Eventually, the fire got out of control and spread to the neighboring homes and burned down nearly the entire city block. Killed in the fire, namely because the adults refused to come out, were 6 adults and 5 children.
What the Tax Funded Propaganda Says
The NPR article skirts around many of the facts and instead, serves up a healthy helping of vague statements that leave the reader filling in the blanks with their imagination.
“It’s seems incredible that so many people had never heard about the time American law enforcement bombed U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, which, on top of the deaths, left dozens of bystanders’ homes destroyed in an uncontrolled fire that the police commissioner told firefighters not to put out right away. The details are so extreme, so over-the-top.”
When I first read that, I was stunned. My first question was where law enforcement came up with a bomber and the ordinance. I mean, it is not like we keep 500 pounders laying around the station. And what in the hell is with the police commissioner? He clearly was doing this all just because this was a black neighborhood and he wanted to burn all their houses down, right? Sounds a bit far fetched, especially considering the mayor, a black man, authorized the police actions taken. I’ll tell you what is extreme and over the top; this guy’s story telling.
The “bomb” itself did not kill anyone. Unfortunately, the “bomb” started a fire. The fire also would not have killed anyone had the suspects inside stopped shooting and just surrendered. While the explosive devise did start the chain of events that eventually lead to their death, the way the author worded his statements very clearly makes the reader picture something very different from what happened. You should also note, as I have, that Demby fails to mention that the mayor supported and approved the police actions that day. The mayor, W. Wilson Goode happened to be Philadelphia’s first black mayor, who even on TV announced that he supported the police actions.
Why word things like he did? Why leave out all mention of the mayor? Well, you know, because it makes a better “evil, racist, white cop story” that way.
Then, after offering up some fairly useful information about why most people have never heard of MOVE, which turns out to be comments from another person entirely, he throws out the obligatory-for-cop-haters Ferguson reference, because you know, the two incidents are so similar, and eff the Police, and stuff…
Then the author finished by offering up this shining piece of stupidity:
“If MOVE happened today, it might be quickly folded into the classroom, as has happened with other recent incidents of police violence. Teachers have all the materials at their fingertips: clips from livestreams, links to mainstream news articles and personal blogs, embeddable tweets, and so on. Back in the mid-80s, you’d have to wait around for the inevitable Frontline documentary or for an academic to publish a book. History gets commodified and redistributed much more quickly today.”
Let us just take a moment and digest that. The author is suggesting that having instant access to things so resoundingly reliable and correct as Twitter and livestreams, and links to personal blogs, to be used instantly by teachers in the classroom is a good thing? Because that worked so well in the case of Ferguson right? You know, all those tweets and livestreams and personal blogs that blamed the cop and spoke of the innocent, poor black teen who was executed by that racist white murderous cop, for no reason, while the gentle giant tried to surrender. That instant access? Perhaps we were all much better off, back when the story got sorted out, and the truth was found before it was broadcast to all the world, before race baiting, agenda driven, con artists stirred up all the useful idiots who rioted and destroyed their own towns, all based on a proven lie.
If you are as disgusted as I am that your tax dollars are funding this anti-cop propaganda, might I suggest contacting NPR and share your thoughts. Also, since NPR is publicly funded, feel free to contact your federal representatives and share your feelings with them as well.