Let the Fire Burn

Synopsis: On May 13, 1985, Philadelphia police dropped two pounds of military explosives onto a city row house occupied by the radical group MOVE. The resulting fire was not fought for over an hour although firefighters were on the scene with water cannons in place. Five children and six adults were killed and sixty-one homes were destroyed by the six-alarm blaze, one of the largest in the city's history. This dramatic tragedy unfolds through an extraordinary visual record previously withheld from the public. It is a graphic illustration of how prejudice, intolerance and fear can lead to unthinkable acts of violence.
Genre: Documentary
Director(s): Jason Osder
Production: Zeitgeist Films
  6 wins & 11 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
88 min

Michael, uh, you remember me

from the last time you and I talked?

About a week ago?

You see this camera?

You're going to have to say "yes"...

so that camera can take down

everything you say.

Because that camera can't take down

something when you shake your head.

Can you say "yes" for us?

Let me hear you say, "yes." "Yes."

That's pretty good. How about a

little bit louder than that? "Yes."

And we talked about what happened

on the 13th of May?

- You remember that?

- Yeah.

Now, Michael, do you know what it is to,

uh-to tell the truth about things?

You're gonna have to say "yes."

You can't shake your head. "Yes."

Okay. What does it mean when you

have to tell the truth about things?

- Don't lie.

- Don't lie. That's right.

And do you know what happens

to people who lie?

- Hmm?

- Yeah.

- What happens to them?

- They get hurt.

They get hurt.

Yes, the big story on Action News tonight

is the effort to evict MOVE...

from its house

on the 6200 block of Osage Avenue.

The effort has turned into a disaster.

The fire is now five-alarm,

still raging out of control as you can see.

An unknown number of heavily-armed

MOVE members continue at large,

possibly roaming the alleyways.

Going in, everybody knew

that MOVE would resist anything.

While the police will say that

they come here to arrest people,

we have done nothing wrong.

We do not want policemen killed.

We do not want people in the house killed.

Fellow officer, James Ramp,

was killed seven years ago.

They will never forget that.

Okay. This is unconfirmed.

We've got to emphasize this is unconfirmed.

But Channel 10 technician,

Fran Hardy reports-

An incendiary device

was dropped out of that helicopter.

Nobody around here has ever

seen anything like this.

We expect that maybe 60, perhaps more,

homes have gone up in flames.

I stand fully accountable

for the actions that took place tonight.

How did an attempt to arrest MOVE members

become an inferno that killed 11 people...

and destroyed 61 homes?

You can call the group reactionists,

revolutionaries, terrorists.

That was a decision...

to let the fire burn.

On May 13, 1985,

years of conflict between

the city of Philadelphia...

and a small, urban group

known as MOVE...

ended in a violent,

daylong encounter...

between the groups' members

and the Philadelphia police.

It was one of the most devastating days

in the modern history of the city.

Before we call the first witness...

I want to tell you

about this special commission.

We are men and women,

black and white,

guided by our own attitudes

and beliefs.

What we hope to accomplish

is to begin healing the wounds...

caused by the failure to resolve

conflicting lifestyles in a peaceful way.

Six, five, four, three...

This is MOVE, the people in an organization

that admits to being totally revolutionary.

For the past four years,

they have lived in the

Powelton Village area

of West Philadelphia,

often running into conflicts with police.

Their personal appearance

has brought stares and

some expressions of disapproval

from the community.

But it what they do that counts,

not how they look.

In everything from work habits to

child raising, MOVE is revolutionary.

Uh, I was indoctrinated with a philosophy

in the Panthers...

that revolution only meant picking up a

gun and going out and murdering somebody.

I never thought that revolution

consisted of revolutionizing myself...

to get away from the things

that caused me to wanna revolt.

MOVE does not believe in technology.

They use a wood-burning stove for heat,

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Let the Fire Burn" Scripts.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 29 Jan. 2023. <https://www.scripts.com/script/let_the_fire_burn_12479>.

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