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An Overview of Move and Black Lives Matter, and Their Impact in Philadelphia

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Table of contents

  1. Abstract
  2. The Impact of MOVE on Philadelphia
  3. Black Lives Matter
  4. Relating MOVE and Black Lives Matter to the Idea of Black Empowerment
  5. Militant Protests
    Addressing Racial Bias
    Challenges Faced by the MOVE and Black Lives Matter in Making the Idea of Black Empowerment a Success
  6. Conclusion


The MOVE organization was a group formed for the purpose of freedom by activists who were all nature loving. The group consisted of mostly Black people in Philadelphia in the early 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s. The organization’s leader, John Africa, was silenced when the police dropped a bomb on their house on May 13, 1985. All members of the group adopted the Africa surname with its social workers preaching self-reliance, recognition of the environment and nature.

The Black Lives Matter organization is also brilliant in its cry against racist police violence. The organization exploded into a wildfire that has probably engulfed the whole country today. Both the MOVE and Black Lives Matter organizations relate since the idea of black empowerment was, and is currently the motive of the social groups. A variety of academic sources such as journal articles and books describe the formation of the African empowerment group from Philadelphia as well as the Black Lives Matter group. There is sufficient evidence for the fact that both the two groups are empowering to Black culture and are essential to achieving equity in the United States of America.

The Impact of MOVE on Philadelphia

Historical records indicate that there were several scenes of crime upon the formation of MOVE organization in Philadelphia. The first major crime scene was witnessed in Philadelphia when the police department dropped a bomb on the house occupied by members of the organization, using a helicopter. The bombing led to several deaths including the death of the group’s leader, John Africa. It is indicated that those who escaped, including children were shot by the police, a situation that led to a period of tension. Eventually, all the people and animals that were rescued perished. The police argued out that the MOVE organization had committed a crime by protesting against the existence of zoos and pet shops that were meant to take stray animals. Academic sources also illustrate that homeschooling and spreading the gospel of sacredness of life in the middle of a city that was too busy to listen was an offense (Coard, 2015).

Evidently, it was a crime for the police department in Philadelphia to carry out shootings with claims that MOVE had empowered its members with automatic weapons for self-defense. Apparently, records show that no traces of such weapons were found in the ashes that were examined after the horrific fire. It was a worst situation in Philadelphia when children and some few adults who happened to be fleeing from the bombing site were also shot dead by the police. As reported by the fire department at the time, there were sounds of automatic fire when MOVE members were seeking for their safety after the bombing.

Apparently, the incidence could have impacted the lives of other people who lived and worked in Philadelphia since there was uncertainty on when such an event could happen again. Moreover, the gunshots could have captured those who were trapped in the affected locations but were not members of the MOVE. Again, those who witnessed the inferno, as recorded in historical books, noted that bodies were being picked inside the property lines yet the people were outside the property lines of the interior of the bombed house. The movement of bodies could have been a motive by the police to seal off the crime scene during and after the inferno.

It was unrealistic for an organization that was conscious and health minded to be bombed in the American city of Philadelphia. Despite the several infractions lobbed at the group via the courts over the past years, the MOVE had remained peaceful in the city. The bombing automatically created an atmosphere of war in the city of Philadelphia since there was the motive of revenge from the group. For instance, historical journals on the development of black movements in the United States note that the MOVE defended themselves through diatribes via loudspeakers that were attached to their rooftop (Volpe, 1989).

The atmospheric war in Philadelphia was evidenced by several protests concerning the existence of zoos in the American city. Initially, the protests were peaceful since the MOVE was aiming to promote the aspect of respecting nature in the society. The protests later on turned to be violent since the police department in Philadelphia was involved. One incidence when an expectant was brutally beaten and kicked by the police is an evidence for the atmosphere of war in the city. Unfortunately, the beatings resulted in a miscarriage for the woman.

Police attacks became rampant in the city, a show of lack of peace and dignity for humanity in the city. In another incidence, the police executed an attack against the MOVE members, killing a three-week-old baby. The police deliberately crushed the baby under his boots after throwing it from the mother’s arms. However, the courts never acknowledged the existence and murder of the baby, Lifa Africa, since there were no hospital records. The MOVE members had made it a trend to give birth at home, a situation that led to no records of the newborn babies being kept (Coard, 2015).

The atmosphere of war had saturated the American city of Philadelphia and the black liberation movement. MOVE, for instance, felt pressured to defend themselves from the persistent police attacks that often led to deaths. The idea of defense resulted in the death of one police officer in 1978 when the police had carried out a raid of a house occupied by MOVE members. It is recorded that some MOVE members were charged in a court of law for the murder, and they were to serve life imprisonment, where some members still remain to date. The existence of the black liberation organization in Philadelphia also created an environment where justice was no longer carried out. For instance, in the case concerning the death of a police officer, evidence was overlooked yet the MOVE members were sentenced to life in prison.

The composting by the MOVE in Philadelphia was seen as a sanitation problem to the city, the loudspeakers, an annoyance, and the campaign procedures a nuisance that the city officials wanted to eradicate. Moreover, the environment of war in Philadelphia led to the destruction of property in the city, a situation that was a threat the development of infrastructure in the American city. As noted, the bombing that was carried out earlier led to the destruction of city blocks and about 250 people were rendered homeless. There was also the incineration of six adults, five children as well as their animals (Wright & Wagner-Pacifici, 1996).

A film entitled “Let the Fire Burn” shows the chronology of years of tension between the police department in Philadelphia and the MOVE and its neighbors. The tragic ending of the tension is noted as the title of the film goes. The local authorities made a decision to let the fire during the bombing engulf the compound without intervention. The movie highlights an incident that was probably the stimulant of the fire inferno in Philadelphia. The killing of one police officer in 1978 when a confrontation between the police and the MOVE occurred unfortunately led to the imprisonment of 9 members of the MOVE. The film makes a presentation that explains the claim of the MOVE that the death of the police officer was due to a friendly fire. The MOVE later provoked the police by constructing a very intimidating, bunker-like structure on their roof, with holes to shoot out. A scene of the police carrying out massive operation aimed at removing the group from its compound is shown in the film, an indication of the intensity of the tension between the police department and the MOVE in Philadelphia (Let the Fire Burn, 2013).

As quoted from John Africa, all living things on the planet are equally important. The MOVE, headed by John Africa, noted that human beings, domestic animals, wild animals, and natural resources such as rivers and lakes were equally significant and they to be taken by the authorities in the right manner. The group intended to create an atmosphere where healthy life could cycle to the next level. The vision of the MOVE was to see land, forests, rivers, and all wild nature flourishing; thus keeping Philadelphia on a move. The killings and resistance from the police, according to the group, was a true testament to the power of people who were simply rejecting a social structure. The natural world, according to the authorities in Philadelphia, could lead to disorganization in the society. In the contemporary society, freedom prevails whereby people can home-school their children, eat raw foods, and campaign for equality of human beings and not get bombed (Wright & Wagner-Pacifici, 1996).

Black Lives Matter

The group is an up-to-the-minute movement that has apparently taken shape in the empowerment of the Blacks in the United States. The organization is a rallying cry of a new group for the police to put a stop to the violence against the African-American population. The group is sparkling in its simplicity in asserting the message that there has to be a stop in racism in the United States. The group that started as a small but fierce rebellion in a St. Loius has eventually taken a nationwide position in dealing with the issue of inequality. The social movement has been stable since even the police and democrats have been able to stop its operations. Occasionally, city authorities across the United States have accepted the challenge of business integration due to the operations by activists who promote equity in the society. In one incident, marchers in New York City repeatedly shut down most major bridges and tunnels while the police appeared to be powerless in bringing the situation to control (Ransby, 2015).

Relating MOVE and Black Lives Matter to the Idea of Black Empowerment

Shortly after the formation of the movement, it shattered what had remained a notion of the post-racial America, re-orienting the entire national conversation on anti-Black racism. The movement follows the tradition of the Black struggles in the United States whose impacts were felt more than the number of people involved in the struggles. For instance, in fighting for the empowerment of the Blacks in America, the movement uses the same criteria of protests and demonstration as was the case in the MOVE family. The MOVE cracked open the conservatism of the era that was associated by police brutality against the Blacks in Philadelphia. The impact created by the MOVE in Philadelphia was an inspiration of mass social change many decades later. Similarly, the strength of today’s Black Lives Matter movement is gauged in several ways that are comparable to the MOVE tactics in fighting racism.

Militant Protests

The movement Black Lives matter has been militant from its inception. The MOVE family also used military tactics to fight the police who appeared to be going against their rights for peaceful protests in the American city of Philadelphia. The peaceful protests eventually turned out to be chaotic and several deaths were reported during police operations to stop the campaigns. The current movement aimed at empowering the Blacks has been known for the recurrent city protests where activists match onto highways and disrupt traffic. The activists have in many cases linked arms across railroad tracks to stop trains, sat in public grounds to delay sporting events, and temporarily occupied shopping malls and city halls. The MOVE family fought to end racism by carrying out campaigns that were noted to be disrupting city activities by the city officials. In the modern society, the Black Lives Matter movement activists also claim that anti-Black racism is a systematic challenge to the society that ought to be confronted by disrupting work, business operations, traveling of commuters, and other daily operations of the US society. The disruptions are noted by the activists to be creating a sense of the intensity of the need for Black empowerment in the society (Volpe, 1989).

As a matter of fact, the Black Lives Matter movement has continued to show its power and the chord that it has struck by carrying out as many Black Lives Matter protests in many cities as possible. News outlets have reported anti-Blacks protests in towns with few Blacks residents, some protests being multiracial in character. Activists have influenced students from high schools, middle school, and elementary schools across the United States to participate in the protests. Moreover, college students from campuses of all types have been captured participating in similar protests across the country. Most importantly, the activists from the Black Lives Matter movement have ensured that a day of action is organized for the medical students where a symbol of white coats for Black Lives is used nationwide.

The military protests in the Black Lives Matter movement are also evidenced by its connection with other movements that support the empowerment of Black people in the United States of America. For instance, in its vision of eradicating racism in the United States, the Black Lives Matter Union has inspired the Palestine solidarity activists to participate in the protests, whereby organizations highlight the importance of police cooperation with the Israeli state. Television reports have indicated the intensity of the conflict that exists between the police and the Israeli state. Palestine solidarity activists have, therefore, been at the forefront in the anti-Black racism protests, to bring out the need for cooperation between the police and the Israeli state. Such influences were also rampant in the MOVE family, as recorded in historical books and journals. Children and women were reported to be among the people who were shot during police raids in the compounds occupied by the MOVE members, an indication of the growing influence to solve the challenge of black empowerment in the United States.

The solidarity of the Black Lives Matter union has been extended beyond the United States. International news broadcasting television stations have reported the participation of activists from countries such as Hong Kong in the anti-Blacks racism protests. The activists have been noted to be matching in many occasions, with their hands up, a “don’t shoot” gesture, to show their solidarity while protesting. The internet platform has been significant in confronting the issue of police racism in the United States. The issue has caught global attention, and there have been many views that mostly tend to rebuke the ill motive of the police officers in the United States.

The movement has other notable aspects of bringing out the idea of Blacks empowerment in the United States. The commitment by the Blacks Lives Matter movement has been indicated by the union’s idea of linking racism to other factors affecting the society at large. Reports indicate the movement has continually desired for the existence of a new generation of leaders who can fight Black liberation. The efforts of the union are indicated by the involvement of the women leadership and the LGBTQ community in the movement. The MOVE family also noted poor leadership in the city of Philadelphia, a factor that led to the resistance to changes that were proposed by the MOVE family.

Addressing Racial Bias

The Blacks Matter movement is keen on ensuring that policies and laws with disparate racial impact are revised to empower the Blacks as well in the United States. Careful data collection in police departments indicate sources of racial bias that ought to be solved as soon as possible. The movement takes a lot of time in following drug cases where the Blacks are involved. Members and supporters of the union are aware that the police have an option of transferring individuals arrested on drug and prostitution charges to social services rather than sending them deeper into the criminal justice system. Activists make follow ups on such cases to ensure fairness by the police department, on the deciding on which path to take with the Blacks who get arrested for minor offenses (Rodriguez, Geronimus, Bound & Dorling, 2015)

The MOVE union made similar attempts to ensure that the police provide fair trials to the Blacks who were arrested during protests. Activists who supported the MOVE were keen in making follow-ups for the Blacks cases in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, the authorities in the city were in support of the police even as they offered cruel options to the Blacks. The arrested MOVE members were often taken through the criminal justice system, where they would be sent to prison for violating the law.

The Blacks Lives Matter have been vigorous in ensuring Blacks empowerment in the United States by starting up programs that ensure equality in schools and other public places where racism may be a challenge. Data reveals that several school districts have enacted new school disciplinary policies to help in reducing disparities in out-of-school suspensions and police referrals. The union has ensured that school-based arrests are cut by more than half; hence reducing cases of suspension, more so for Black students. In some schools such as the Los Angeles district school, there has been total elimination of police-issued truancy tickets and a new policy set in to replace the old rule that could trigger police racism in the school. The school currently has little reliance on its school police department. Under the new rule, it is upon the school officials to deal with students who happen to go against the schools set of rules (Ghandnoosh, 2014).

The MOVE union in Philadelphia was also formed with the motive of reducing if not eradicating and revising laws with disparate racial impact. Historical records indicate that the MOVE family was not pleased with inequality in the American city of Philadelphia at the time the movement was formed. In ensuring the revision of laws with racial impact, the movement practiced home-based schooling for their children to reduce their chances of suffering inequality at school. Moreover, the union was interested in revising laws that would treat every living being in America in the same manner. Activists from the union made claims that it is the inequality in the treatment of living beings in America that promoted police racism in Philadelphia. According to the Union, the existence of zoos and other features restricting the movement of animals was a way of promoting inequality in the American society.

The Blacks Lives Matter movement activists have noted, time and again that once Black people in the United States of America are arrested they are also likely to be charged more harshly than the whites. Once charged, people of color are also likely to be convicted, a situation that would see them face stiff sentences. According to the activists in the movement, it has become a trend for the police to account for relevant legal differences such as crime severity and criminal history of the Blacks who claim to be harassed by the police departments in the United States (Harris & Terborg-Penn, 2006).

Challenges Faced by the MOVE and Black Lives Matter in Making the Idea of Black Empowerment a Success

The MOVE family was faced by several challenges even as they fought to ensure equity and respect to nature in the society. Historical records and films indicate an incident when a police officer was killed in Philadelphia as a result of the increase tension between the police department and the MOVE union. The killing of the police officer resulted in the imprisonment of nine members of the MOVE family. From the films that act the historical events, it is evident that the Black commitment was not protected by the law, another element of inequality in the American Society during the era. The police officers committed several crimes during their raid missions against the Blacks but they sealed off evidence that could be used against them in the court of law. A similar incident occurred when a police officer killed a newborn baby and an expectant mother, but the Blacks were viewed by the authorities to be the cause of the problems.

The Black Lives Matter movement in the United States of America today faced a great challenge when two police officers were murdered in New York City during a protest by the movement. The movement was held responsible for the deaths as it is alleged that there was an incitement for violence in the streets even as the movement protested against police racism. After the reported deaths of police officers, it is reported that the police department has decided to threaten publicly and defy anyone who challenge its rights to carry on with systematically racist practices. The police in Philadelphia also carried on with their racist practices against the MOVE family after the incident of the murder of a police officer. The challenge of revenge has been real and extreme even as the two movements struggle to bring out the idea of equality in the society. For instance, the bombing and other scenes of crime that were executed by the police in Philadelphia came after the death of their colleague; a sign that the police has the ill intention of proceeding with their brutality to the Blacks in the United States of America (Ghandnoosh, 2014).

It can be argued that today’s movement Black Lives Matter activists have been a target for the police after the death of two police officers in the city of New York. It was reported that one unarmed Black man was shot dead by the police as he walked down the stairs in his home in Brooklyn. Several protests were witnessed as a sign that the Black Lives Matter movement had not been cowed by the police ill operations against the Blacks. Similar to the perseverance employed by the MOVE, the Black Lives Matter movement has been vigorous in its efforts to ensure Black empowerment even after the revengeful acts from the police. News headlines reported that several protests were experienced in most cities after the shooting of the Black man in his home. The protests have been ranging from small die-ins of several dozens to matches of thousands in the cities of New York, Philadelphia, where groups have blocked highways to antagonize the police. Organizations, political leaders, and labor unions have recently joined the Black Lives Matter movement as a show of the growth of the union in its efforts to ensure the empowerment of the Blacks (Combs, 2015).

Lack of clear leadership in the Blacks Lives Matter movement appears to be a major challenge in ensuring the empowerment of Blacks in the United States. Internet information indicate that Black stars love to support the message behind the Black Lives Matter movement, but many are not capable of helping in the shaping the movement to the right direction. Similar reports indicate that the Black stars only notice the clear lack of real direction and good leadership in the union. For instance, sources have it that Oprah Winfrey recently criticized anti-police brutality activists by claiming that their leadership skills have failed to articulate clear demands for their rights as it was the case in 1960 when the Civil Rights movement made precise and elaborate demands for their rights. The growing size of the Black Lives Matter union has been a major challenge since a set of clear leaders has not taken the responsibility of emerging and giving followers of the movement the right directions on what they ought to do to ensure the empowerment of the Blacks in the United States (Combs, 2015).

Similarly, the MOVE family in the 1990s in Philadelphia lacked clear leadership after the death of John Africa in a bombing of the building where the group members had gathered. The lack of proper leadership in MOVE after the death of John Africa is evidenced by lack of historical quotes from other known leaders of the union. Apparently, historical records only noted down quotes from John Africa. John, at one point, stated that revolution refers to total change; a complete dissociation from everything that happens to be the cause of the problems the society is revolting. His known quotes reflected the qualities of a good leader who could come up with the required ideas in tackling daily challenges (Coard, 2015).

The Black Lives Matter movement, in striving to ensure the empowerment of the Blacks in the United States, has had a focus that is too narrow to bring the dream to reality. The protests behind the Black Lives Matter have a restricted focus since they were sparked under unclear circumstances in the American history. The killing of an unarmed man was the major reason for the protests that have continued to exist. The protests carried by the MOVE also failed to focus on the deeply rooted issues at hand that impacted the Black community in Philadelphia.


The MOVE had several negative implications to the people of Philadelphia since the movement was not supported by the city authorities. The union led to a lot of tension in the American city, resulting in the displacement of many innocent residents. The war environment created by the movement in Philadelphia also led to the loss of lives even as the organization’s members strived to ensure equality in the United States. The Blacks Lives Matter movement has been significant in creating awareness on the existence of police racial discrimination in the modern society of the United States of America. The movement’s vision may be reached due to the increasing attention given to police racism; an issue of social concern.

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