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Philly Health Commissioner Resigns After Mayor Reveals MOVE Bombing Victims’ Remains Cremated in 2017

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As MOVE family members and hundreds of supporters held a memorial Thursday to mark the deadly May 13, 1985, police bombing of their home in Philadelphia, Mayor Jim Kenney announced the resignation of the city’s top health official over stunning new revelations he cremated some of the bombing victims’ remains, including bone fragments, without the knowledge or permission of the families. This comes amid an ongoing investigation into how the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University came into possession of bones thought to belong to one or two MOVE children killed in the bombing. The police bombing of the home of the radical, Black liberation, anti-police-brutality group killed six adults and five children and burned down two city blocks.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Thursday marked the 36th anniversary of the Philadelphia police bombing of the home of the radical, Black liberation, anti-police-brutality group MOVE that killed six adults and five children and burned down two city blocks.

In a major development, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney announced the resignation of Philadelphia’s top health official over new revelations he cremated some of the bombing victims’ remains, including bone fragments, without the knowledge or permission of the families. This is the mayor.

MAYOR JIM KENNEY: Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley disclosed that several years ago he learned of remains found by the Medical Examiner’s Office that belonged to victims of the 1985 MOVE bombing. Instead of fully identifying those remains and returning them to the family, he made a decision to cremate and dispose of them. This action lacked empathy for the victims, their family and the deep pain that the MOVE bombing has brought to our city for nearly four decades.

AMY GOODMAN: Philadelphia Mayor Kenney said he demanded the health commissioner’s resignation, but put the city’s medical examiner, Dr. Sam Gulino, on administrative leave because he has civil service protection, unlike Dr. Farley, and because he’s needed for the investigation.

The mayor met with MOVE family members on Wednesday and agreed to announce the news on the bombing anniversary. He said the amount of remains destroyed without notifying them is not yet known. An investigation will include people approved by the MOVE family.

This comes amidst an ongoing investigation into how the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University were in possession of bones thought to belong to one or two MOVE children killed in the bombing, and used them in an online teaching course without the family’s knowledge or permission.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, MOVE family members and hundreds of supporters held a memorial and marched by the scene of the May 13th, 1985, police bombing of their home in Philadelphia, chanting the names of those killed, and the lone adult and child survivors.

MOVE FAMILY MEMBERS AND SUPPORTERS: Rhonda Africa! Rhonda Africa! Theresa Africa! Theresa Africa! Frank Africa! Frank Africa! Raymond Africa! Raymond Africa! Conrad Africa! Conrad Africa! John Africa! John Africa! Tree Africa! Tree Africa! Delisha Africa! Delisha Africa! Netta Africa! Netta Africa! Little Phil Africa! Little Phil Africa! Tomaso Africa! Tomaso Africa! Birdie Africa! Birdie Africa! Ramona Africa! Ramona Africa!

AMY GOODMAN: You can see all our interviews about the 1985 MOVE bombing and its aftermath at democracynow.org.

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