The screening of a documentary of the 1985 standoff, known as the MOVE bombing, between Philadelphia police and a group known as MOVE, which ended with 11 people dead, including five children, and 61 homes destroyed by fire, will be the focus of the next Conversations on Race and Policing.
“Let the Fire Burn,” a 2013 documentary by director Jason Osder, will be livestreamed on Zoom beginning at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, March 24. It can be accessed from a PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android at https://csusb.zoom.us/j/97960458784.
MOVE was a group that mixed back-to-nature environmentalism with the Black liberation struggle. According to an article in The Guardian, “For years they had been in a running battle with the Philadelphia authorities culminating that May in arrest warrants, for a range of offenses including ‘terroristic threats,’ ‘riot’ and ‘disorderly conduct,’ being served and a standoff ensuing that ended with the dropping of (police officer Frank) Powell’s bomb on to their house.”
That was on May 13, 1985. Powell dropped the explosive from a helicopter, and the blast set fire not only to the MOVE house, but to other homes as well. Some 250 residents were left homeless.
Author Betsey Piette, who reviewed the film, wrote: “‘Let the Fire Burn’ reminds its audience that city officials, with full knowledge that children were in the house, chose not to extinguish the blaze. Wilson Goode, then Philadelphia’s mayor, admits during testimony before a commission that ‘there was a decision to let the fire burn.’”
Conversations on Race and Policing began in the aftermath of the May 25 death of George Floyd while in the custody of four Minneapolis, Minn., police officers. A video of the incident posted on social media has led to widespread protests, the firing of four police officers, the arrest of one officer on a second-degree murder charge, the other three on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder – and a spotlight worldwide on race and policing.
Previous forums also are posted online (more recordings will soon be available for viewing) on the CSUSB History Club Lecture Series YouTube channel.
The ongoing Conversations on Race and Policing series is hosted by CSUSB students Marlo Brooks and Yvette Relles-Powell.
The series is organized by Brooks and Relles-Powell, CSUSB faculty members Mary Texeira (sociology) and Jeremy Murray (history), Robie Madrigal, public affairs/communication specialist for the CSUSB John M. Pfau Library, and community member Stan Futch, president of the Westside Action Group.