This week was the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre. The first stage of the massacre destroyed the prosperous African American community in Tulsa, Oklahoma called Greenwood, killing as many as 300 people. The second stage of the massacre was burying its history. But the story is no longer hidden, and articles, talks, documentaries and publications now abound.
Some of the deaths and destruction were the result of private planes bombing the community. This is considered to be the first time that planes were used to bomb civilians. But it wasn’t the last time that African American civilians were bombed.
On May 13, 1985, a police helicopter dropped a bomb on a row house in Philadelphia, targeting a Black liberation group called MOVE. The group advocated communal living, and its members frequently engaged in public demonstrations against racism, police brutality, and other issues. The resulting fire killed eleven MOVE members, including five children. The fire burst out of control and destroyed 65 houses in the neighborhood, prompting widespread outrage. This bombing was a qualitative escalation in the use of military force against a civilian population by a police agency.
In 1996, eleven years after the MOVE bombing, a jury ordered the city of Philadelphia and two former city officials to pay $1.5 million to a survivor and relatives of two MOVE members who died in the fire. The jury found that the city, the former Police Commissioner and former Fire Commissioner used excessive force and violated the MOVE members' constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure in the 1985 bombing.
The descendants of the Tulsa Massacre victims should receive reparations. This will not be an easy fight, as some people continue to be outraged by the telling of this history. A New York Gallery was vandalized three times this week for displaying an exhibition commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre. The gallery owner has asked the police to treat it as a hate crime.
Philadelphia (El Salvador) My mama couldn't sleep last night. She just rocked back and forth, back and forth in her chair, looking out the window––my mama, she couldn't sleep last night. I saw the tears running down her face, and I asked her why––"Because they're bombing the people, baby, they're bombing the people. Oh, baby we've got to do something––they're bombing the people now, baby, they're bombing the people. You Don't Bomb The People.
El Salvador: In the 1980s, the US government provided training, weapons, and funding to the brutal and corrupt government of El Salvador, which used our tax dollars to terrorize, suppress, and attack the civilian population. This poster protests the US-financed war in El Salvador, and condemns the bombing of civilians everywhere.