Controversy Erupts Over Penn Museum’s Possession of MOVE Bombing Victims’ Remains

Last week, the University of Pennsylvania museum apologized for hosting the stolen remains of enslaved people.
The Penn Museum at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (Windell Oskay/Flickr)

Just over a week after the Penn Museum apologized for hosting the stolen skulls of enslaved people in its Morton Collection, it is now embroiled in a second controversy involving its possession of remains of Black Philadelphians killed in the MOVE Bombing.

According to reports yesterday, April 21, in the local news outlets BillyPenn and the Philadelphia Inquirer, the remains of victims of the 1985 bombing had been stored at the museum for decades, later to be moved back and forth between Penn and Princeton University.

Eleven people, including five children, were killed in a police airstrike against members of the Black liberation movement MOVE on May 13, 1985. Police attempted to expel members of the movement from a west Philadelphia building with water cannons, tear gas, and live ammunition. After an armed standoff, a police helicopter dropped two bombs on the building. The Philadelphia Fire Department allowed the fire to spread to others buildings, subsequently decimating more than 60 homes in the predominantly Black neighborhood. 

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