The 1985 Move Incident
Tensions grow between MOVE supporters and Osage Avenue residents. Courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
MOVE members able to avoid capture went into hiding. Despite evidence suggesting the inconclusiveness of Ramp's
shooting—his death may have been caused by "friendly fire"—by 1981 nine of the ten arrested members
had been sentenced to thirty to one hundred years in prison. Later that year John Africa was apprehended in Rochester, NY, and
brought back to Philadelphia to stand trial; charged with weapons and conspiracy offenses, and representing himself, he was
acquitted. Though fractured, MOVE quietly reorganized and moved into a house at 6221 Osage Avenue in Cobbs Creek, a
neighborhood with the highest number of black homeowners in Philadelphia. As with their arrival in Powelton Village years
earlier, MOVE was welcomed at first by their neighbors. Within a few years, however, history seemed to be repeating
itself: the group constructed another large stage on its front yard from which it would blare its message at all hours
of the night. And, as in Powelton Village, byproducts of the group's naturalistic lifestyle—vermin, litter,
odors—increasingly put it at odds with its neighbors, with whom clashes became more and more heated. Recalling a
1984 Mother's Day discussion between the Osage Avenue block association and the group, neighborhood resident Oris
Thomas told Time "[MOVE] said, 'If you do anything to hurt us, we're going to kill you.'"
Though the association tried to get the office of Mayor W. Wilson Goode to intervene, he accomplished little, as did the
police, both of whom were undoubtedly wary of another showdown. Out of options, the block association scheduled a press
conference in hopes of forcing the city's hand.