Some 60 houses were burned, and 11 people died, after a police helicopter dropped explosives on Move’s fortified headquarters. Indeed, they are not racist at all, as they understand the term. The unceremonious ending comes with a note of hope in a police officer’s testimony about rescuing Birdie, though the abruptness seems fit to underline that violence on both sides simply begot death. (Zeitgeist Films) White America says "Let the Fire Burn" Videos. The rough-hewn quality of the source materials provides the viewer an immersive and immediate experience of the events as they unfold. Page 1 of 1 Start Over Page 1 of 1. More important, the white-pride caucus of the all-white party, the Tea Party congressmen from apartheid America, have fought back with a vengeance. (Mr. Ward died last month at 41.). email@example.com, © 2020 Organization of American Historians, On May 13, 1985, the MOVE organization, a small group of African American religious dissidents, resisted an eviction order by Philadelphia police to vacate their headquarters in Cobbs Creek, an African American middle-class neighborhood in west Philadelphia. Similarly, as a mesmerizing examination of a crucial moment in recent history, Let the Fire Burn preserves the memories of people whose lives were utterly devastated by the cataclysmic fire yet must never be forgotten. For instance, Osder juxtaposes the Philadelphia police department’s dispassionate report of Delbert Africa’s capture and arrest before the investigative commission with newly unearthed video of the MOVE member being savagely beaten by police. Let the Fire Burn. All rights reserved. In a disturbing early clip, he is shown among naked and unkempt toddlers who recite radical cant. “I thought a lot about those kids. Failing that, they want to let the fire burn. He quit the force soon thereafter. They “want their country back." This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. SALON ® is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as a trademark of Salon.com, LLC. Now those white insurrectionists have risen up and taken their former leaders prisoner, which carries a certain poetic justice. The interests of the GOP’s corporate power base and its Ayn Randian free-marketeers, which are often in conflict, suddenly coalesced with the 50-year Republican strategy to depict the federal government as “an oppressor that works primarily as the protector of and provider for African-Americans, to the detriment of everyone else.” Republicans have carefully fed and nurtured this sense of racial grievance among the white working class, leading to pollster Stanley Greenberg’s famous analysis that suburban whites in a previously Democratic county in Michigan saw government “as a black domain where whites cannot expect reasonable treatment.” That was 30 years ago, by the way, around the same time as the MOVE atrocity. As the crisis escalated, police used tear gas, water cannons, and approximately ten thousand rounds of ammunition to drive the group from its row house. T. he film’s title is a direct quote from Mayor Goode, who summarily explained his administration’s decision to “let the fire burn” in the hopes of ending the stalemate once and for all. Zeitgeist Films, 2013. A scene from “Let the Fire Burn” shows the aftermath of the police bombing of the Move house in Philadelphia. Let the Fire Burn. Mission accomplished. Well, never mind. He was a 13-year-old known as Birdie Africa then, one of the children of the revolution. In the film, Osder succeeds in showing how the city’s government repeatedly made bad decisions on behalf of its citizens that culminated in the death of almost a dozen people and the destruction of an entire neighborhood. Those views endure, and not just among isolated white-supremacist whack jobs, but it is no longer acceptable to express them, even in private. ------------------------------------------. Want to read more articles just like these? As my colleague Joan Walsh has repeatedly observed, the racial subtext of American politics in 2013 – and hell, it’s the text, not a subtext – is impossible to miss, but every time you bring it up you get lambasted by the right as a race-baiter. In this scene and others, Osder’s film reveals the significance of the camera’s eye as an important bulwark against government conspiracy and cover-ups. It offers a time capsule, taking us to a horrific moment in our nation’s history with a masterfully structured edit that vividly mines a trove of blistering period archive images without voiceover narration. That would be a video of a legal deposition by Michael Ward, one of two survivors of the siege. Only two MOVE members emerged from the flames that day: an adult woman and an adolescent boy. Bush on the campaign trail in 1992 – the son of a senator and Wall Street banker, raised in Greenwich, Conn., and educated at Phillips Andover and Yale – when his stump speech included lines about “rural America, real America.”. Zeitgeist Films, 2013. I remember covering George H.W. Of course “real America” hasn’t been rural since the 19th century, and white panic about the changing nature of American society goes clear back to “No Irish Need Apply,” the “gentleman’s agreement” that barred Jews from elite universities and the housing covenants that prevented black families from moving to the suburbs even in states where there was never legal segregation. Remarkably, the film is a found-footage pastiche consisting entirely of obscure archival news segments, student documentary film, and never-before-seen video recordings of a special investigative commission convened to determine the origins of the crisis. Of the hundreds of cops at the scene, he was the one who risked his life to save the only two MOVE members, an adult and a child, who made it out of that house on Osage Avenue. Those commission hearings become a piece of meaningful political theater that features eye-openingly defiant veterans of Move; grim, lumpen law enforcement officials; and seething neighbors of the conflagration site. “Let the Fire Burn” is now playing at Film Forum in New York. Let the Fire Burn tells a story we were stunned to realize we didn’t know. Osder utilizes Ward’s eyewitness testimony to reveal the callous governmental decision-making process that led to the catastrophic bombing. Yet it must be noted that the film does not thoroughly explore the complex identity politics and religious dimensions pivotal to MOVE’s history. For anyone interested in such issues, filmmaker Louis Massiah’s documentary The Bombing of Osage Avenue (1986) offers greater insights.