On May 13, 1985, the Philadelphia Police Department dropped a bomb on a house at 6221 Osage Ave. The bombing and the decision to “let the fire burn” killed eleven members of the Black liberation organization MOVE, including five children. Nearly thirty-six years later, protestors are demanding that the Penn Museum release the remains of two children killed in the blaze.
Yesterday, 100 protestors gathered outside the Penn Museum to protest the museum’s mishandling of the remains of Delisha and Tree Africa. Bones belonging to the children had been held at the museum for decades. The remains then ended up in the possession of Princeton University, where a professor used them as part of a public online forensics course. Members of the Africa family say that they did not know about the existence of the remains until the news broke in recent weeks.
MOVE members demanded that the remains be immediately returned to the Africa family. They have also called for the firing of Janet Monge, curator of the museum’s physical anthropology section, who was seen using the bones in the Princeton forensics class. Other demands include an investigation into how the museum retained custody of the remains, reparations, and the release of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a MOVE supporter currently serving a life-sentence.
In a speech at the rally, Black Lives Matter Philadelphia organizer YahNé Ndgo said, “These were real people — people who had dreams and aspirations, whose lives were taken senselessly, thoughtlessly. They should have been able to rest in peace and power.”