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PHOTO ESSAY

The 1985 Move Incident

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On the porch in Powelton Village

MOVE headquarters in Powelton Village. Courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Since arriving in Powelton Village, the group had frequently stationed members on their porch, bullhorns in hand, loudly propagating the MOVE philosophy. Though exasperating to their neighbors, the spectacle wasn't enough to draw a response from city authorities. In late May 1978, however, members began appearing in military garb and brandishing rifles, a dramatic escalation to a conflict thus far defined by nuisance issues. The group's increasingly militant posture drew the attention of Mayor Frank Rizzo, a tough-talking former Philadelphia police commissioner. Despite his reputation as a "law and order" politician in the mold of Richard Nixon, Rizzo moved slowly, first attempting to bargain the release of incarcerated MOVE members in exchange for the group's relocation outside the city. MOVE refused to leave Philadelphia, putting pressure back on Rizzo to resolve the standoff. Ten months into the stalemate, Rizzo ordered a blockade of the four blocks surrounding the compound. All utilities, food, and water were cut off. Nevertheless, supporters were able to smuggle supplies to the house, prolonging the confrontation for another three months. On 8 August 1978, police moved in. While successful in evicting the group, the raid left police officer James J. Ramp dead, five officers and firefighters wounded, and MOVE member Delbert Africa severely beaten. MOVE headquarters was immediately razed, and ten group members were arrested.

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