Let The Fire Burn
Pam Africa

Ed Hille---courtesy of Philadelphia Inquirer, file

by: Lamont Lilly

Originally shown on September 20th, 2013 at the Full Frame’s Power Plant Theater in Durham, NC Let The Fire Burn is a documentary about the bombing of an organization called MOVE and the historical developments concerning the group’s political repression by the city of Philadelphia since 1978.

Lamont Lilly is a contributing editor with the Triangle Free Press and organizer with Workers World Party. Follow him on Twitter @LamontLilly.

Founded by John Africa in 1972, MOVE (originally “Christian Movement for Life”) was a small group of Black Liberationists who subscribed to a unique lifestyle through their cultural and religious philosophy.

Prior to the film’s core storyline about the 1985 bombing, Let The Fire Burn, details the Philadelphia Police Department’s 1978 raid on MOVE’s Powelton Village home in West Philadelphia. During the raid, Philadelphia police officer, James Ramp was somehow shot and killed. Ballistics and state evidence pointed to friendly fire. Yet, nine MOVE members were convicted of the murder of one cop and sentenced to 30 to 100 years each in federal prison. Two days later, their Powelton Village home was destroyed by city bulldozers as MOVE was forced to relocate.

Seven years later on May 13th, 1985, over 200 Philadelphia police officers gathered outside of MOVE’s home on Osage Avenue. Over 10,000 rounds of police ammunition was used against unarmed citizens. Two state-sponsored C4 bombs were dropped on a row house full of people.

photo by Ed Hille---courtesy of Philadelphia Inquirer, file

MOVE fire photo by Ed Hille—courtesy of Philadelphia Inquirer, file

When informed about the development of this violent occurrence, Philadelphia’s then Black Mayor, Wilson Goode, consciously responded on live video to “Just let the fire burn.” A raging fire that had already killed 11 people (5 of whom were children) was intentionally allowed to spread. In just a few brief hours, 61 homes were completely destroyed—memories and life-savings leveled to worthless ashes.

photo by Ed Hille---courtesy of Philadelphia Inquirer, file

As a body bag is carried away from the MOVE house, police officers, firefighters and medical personnel look at the rubble at 6221 Osage Avenue, photo by Ed Hille—courtesy of Philadelphia Inquirer, file

Only two MOVE survivors exited the burning building – activist, Ramona Africa and a young boy named Birdie, whose testimony and childhood descriptions were documented throughout the film. In the wake of such an atrocity, not one city official, police officer or fireman was ever held accountable. Eight of the nine MOVE members, however have remained in prison for 35 years on trumped-up charges. As Let The Fire Burn clearly illustrates, justice is still waiting in this case. Truth is still waiting to be unleashed.

Join us in learning about the history of state violence against liberation groups, political repression, and how we can apply these lessons to today’s struggle.

Free film screening, Let The Fire Burn, Friday, April 10th 2015 at 6pm at The Palace International, 1104 Broad Street, Durham, NC.

Pam and Ramona Africa courtesy of Lamont Lilly

Pam and Ramona Africa courtesy of Lamont Lilly


The following day, Saturday, April 11th at 1pm there will be a public discussion at the same venue with MOVE member, Pam Africa. Comrade Pam has led the movement to free Mumia Abu-Jamal for the last three decades.

For more information contact Lamont Lilly at 919.904.8479 or visit the event page here.

To support the current efforts to save Mumia Abu-Jamal please visit www.millions4mumia.org.

Both events are FREE and open to the public. #BlackLivesMatter #FreeMumia

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