By Austin Nolen
On Wednesday, it will have been thirty years since Philadelphia police dropped a bomb on a West Philly row house occupied by the controversial radical group MOVE. The bombing came after years of increasing tension between the city, the group and its neighbors. Two public government reports, by a city commission and a county grand jury, were highly critical of the planning (or lack thereof) of the attempted arrest of MOVE members, but no city officials or employees were ever charged.
As can be expected from such a serious use of force in a politically charged situation, not only do people vigorously disagree over their interpretations of the events, but even over the facts themselves. To help inform the conversation over perhaps the worst day in the city’s modern history, The Declaration is publishing online for the first time the findings of the Philadelphia Special Investigation Commission (PSIC) and the county investigating grand jury impaneled to consider the bombing. A federal grand jury considered and declined to indict in the case as well, but under different federal rules, made no public report. We are also publishing selected images which were reviewed by both the commission and the county grand jury.
The Philadelphia Special Investigation Commission’s report:
The findings, conclusions and recommendations of the Philadelphia Special Investigation Commission, March 6th, 1986. Philadelphia Special Investigation Commission. Philadelphia, PA, 1986.
The Report of the County Investigating Grand Jury of May 15th, 1986, courtesy of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office:
PSIC 3018, Box 3-2, PSIC Collection
All photos and the PSIC report courtesy of the Special Collections Research Center. Temple University Libraries. Philadelphia, PA.
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