THE POLITICAL hellfires of the 1960s - like a lot of things - came a little late to Philadelphia. In the case of the radical group MOVE and the inferno that it sparked, the flaming embers have never fully burned out.
WHEN THOMAS AND BETTY MAPP came home to a house rebuilt by an incompetent, or just plain crooked, contractor in the Osage Avenue neighborhood destroyed in the MOVE debacle, they found cedar siding sliding off the walls and fire spitting out of electrical outlets.
O'Dowd and Gibbons, veteran newsmen, were behind the yellow tape on one of the darkest days in the city's history, elbow-to-elbow with cops and firefighters as the much-anticipated showdown with MOVE took one unthinkable turn after another.
POWELL PLAYED a controversial role in the MOVE story: He's the man who dropped the bomb on the roof of the MOVE house. The bomb was a mix of Tovex, one of the explosives used in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, and C-4, which was used during the Vietnam War. The MOVE Commission concluded that the bomb ignited the fire that killed 11 people and destroyed 61 rowhouses.
PHILADELPHIA POLICE Officer James Berghaier was in the alley behind the MOVE house when the fire began. He braved gunfire and sloshed through waist-deep water to pull 13-year-old Birdie Africa to safety.
POLICE OFFICER Charles "Reds" Mellor was in the alley behind the MOVE house with his partner, James Berghaier, when the fire began. He stood in the middle of the alley to provide cover as Berghaier rescued Birdie Africa. He coaxed Ramona Africa down the alley and placed her under arrest.
1985: Bond, as president of the neighborhood group United Residents of the 6200 Block of Osage Avenue, met with city officials seeking their help to deal with the MOVE house, whose residents barraged neighbors with harangues over roof-mounted loudspeakers. Bond and his neighbors said they felt ignored by the Goode administration.
POLICE COMMISSIONER Gregore J. Sambor, a square-jawed military veteran, was ordered by Mayor Goode to develop a tactical plan for a possible confrontation with MOVE members. Sambor put three cops in charge of developing the plan.
1972 — Vincent Leaphart, a West Philadelphia handyman and high-school dropout distrustful of education, medical science and the criminal-justice system, gathers followers in Powelton Village, where he forms a “back-to-nature” cult.