Black History Month 2022

'pennsylvania' - 7 results

Fugitive Slave Act of 1793



Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - The United States Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793. It was signed into law, by George Washington. It was the first law to make the United States a legal slave state.

The United States Constitution made slavery the basis for a new nation. However, there was no law to enforce slavery. This Act made slavery a legal right, with force of law.

This Act made 'free' Black Americans into a legal under-class. More than that, no Black American had legal citizenship, in the United States. At any time, free or not, a Black American had to show documents of their status, to any white who demanded them.

The Act only required a claim that a Black American was a slave. Once the claim was accepted in a court of law, the Black American was legally a slave. Without legal proof, any Black American was a slave, in the United States. With legal proof, a Black American still did not have status as a citizen of the United States.

The Act made all Black Americans into classes of human property. The Act NEVER used the words, slave, slavery, enslavement, bondage, nor forced labor.


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First Penitentiary Inmate Was Black



Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - The first penitentiary in the world opened in the United States. Its first inmate was a 'light-skinned Negro in excellent health.' The prison was called Eastern State Penitentiary. It closed in 1971.


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1964 Philadelphia Race Riot



Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - 3 days of burning, violence, and disorder started with a traffic dispute. Two died in the violence. There were hundreds of injuries, arrests, and stores damaged.

At 9:35 p.m., Friday, police workers Robert Wells (Black American) and John Hoff (white) went to a domestic dispute. It began at the corner of 22nd Street and Columbia Avenue.

Odessa Bradford stopped the car as she argued with Rush, her husband. She refused to move out of the intersection. The cops tried to grab her from the car. A large crowd gathered.

A man tried to help Odessa. Both were arrested. The crowd threw bricks and other debris at the police. Rumor spread that a white cop had beaten and killed a pregnant, Black American woman. This fed the disorder.

The minor incident turned into total chaos. North Philadelphia was in turmoil for days.

In response, SWAT (Special Weapons Assault Teams) was formed. These police assault teams became Special Response Teams (SRT), in many cities.


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SWAT Created



Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Special Weapons Assault Teams (SWAT) was created. It was formed as a reaction to the uprising of Black Americans, the previous month. This ultra-violent police squad became Special Response Teams (SRT).

SWAT used military tactics to attack and contain Black Americans. This included men, women, children, the elderly, and the disabled. It was most used during the War on Drugs, which began in 1981 and continued into the 2020s.

SWAT was used in routine drug raids on homes. These raids came with no warning to the people inside the house. Tear gas, flash bang grenades, and heavily armed, and armored employees were used in these raids.

SWAT raids became so common, the term 'SWATTING' came into use. SWATTING was a trick, though a very dangerous one. An anonymous caller told the police there were drugs in a target house (or some other type of unlawful activity). Without any evidence, the police sent SWAT to assault the home and the people inside.

Source:

The Story of SWAT

Origin of SWAT


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COINTELPRO Made Public



Media, Pennsylvania - Documents were stolen that exposed COINTELPRO. They were taken, at night, in a break-in, from a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) field office.

COINTELPRO stood for COunter-INTELligence PROgram. It was a years-long government effort to disrupt, confuse, and spy on Black Americans and groups. It began at the start of the Black (later Civil) Rights movement, in 1956.

The break-in happened during the 'Fight of the Century' the same day. It was hoped the spectacle of the fight was enough to divert attention from the break-in. The plan was carried out by the Citizen’s Commission. They were never caught. Their names were not known until 2014.

Targets of COINTELPRO were Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, The Nation of Islam, The Black Panther Party, and Fred Hampton, to name just a few victims.

The FBI claimed COINTELPRO ended, in 1971.

Source:

COINTELPRO Exposed

FBI COINTELPRO statement


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MOVE Bombed By Police



Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - The Philadelphia Police Department used a bomb, in an airstrike, that killed 11 people. It was dropped on the roof of a home. The neighborhood was densely packed. The Philadelphia Fire Department let the fire burn out of control.

MOVE was the Christian Movement For Life. It was a back-to-nature group of Black Americans, led by John Africa. From 1981, MOVE members lived in a row home, at 6221 Osage Avenue, in Philadelphia.

For years, neighbors complained about MOVE members. The complaints were about trash around the house and confrontations with neighbors. MOVE used a bullhorn to make announcements, of political messages, in the neighborhood.

Mayor Wilson Goode and police commissioner Gregore J. Sambor evacuated the neighborhood before their planned attack on the MOVE house. They promised that everyone could return after twenty-four (24) hours.

Monday, May 13, 1985, five hundred (500) police workers arrived at the MOVE house. The police were there to arrest MOVE members and clear the house.

There were thirteen (13) people inside the MOVE house. They were eight (8) adults and five (5) children. The police ordered everyone to leave. MOVE members did not respond.

The police fired tear gas bombs into the house. The MOVE members fired at the bomb throwers. Police fired ten thousand (10,000) rounds at the house.

The police barrage stopped. The MOVE members stayed inside. Next, Commissioner Sambor ordered the house be bombed, from the air.

At 5:27 p.m., Frank Powell was head of the Philadelphia police bomb disposal squad. Powell lit a 45 second fuse to C-4 (an explosive used in the Vietnam War). From a helicopter, Powell dropped the bomb, on the still occupied MOVE house.

The bomb exploded on the roof and started a fire. Mayor Goode ordered that the fire should not be put out until the bunker burned. That was one and a half (1 1/2) hours after the fire started.

As a result, eleven (11) people died. Six (6) adults and five (5) children were killed. The children ranged from seven (7) to fourteen (14) years of age. Ramona Africa was one of the survivors. She said the police shot at them as they tried to escape the fire.

Ramona Africa was charged and convicted of riot and conspiracy, as a survivor of MOVE. No city employees, politicians, or officials were criminally charged for the attack.


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Bill Cosby Cleared of Crimes



Collegeville, Pennsylvania - Bill Cosby was freed from state prison in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled earlier that day, to end his prison term.

On April 26, 2018, Cosby was accused, tried, and convicted of aggravated indecent assault. All of the testimony was from white women. There was no physical evidence. No one backed any of their claims.

On September 25, 2018, Judge Steven O'Neill sent Cosby to jail for three (3) to ten (10) years. Cosby appealed the case and it was denied in the appeals court. It went to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, to be heard in 2021.

On June 30, 2021, the state Supreme Court made the decision that follows. 'As a practical matter, the moment that Cosby was charged criminally, he was harmed: all that he had forfeited earlier, and the consequences of that forfeiture in the civil case, were for naught,'

Cosby spent almost 3 years in prison on a false charge.


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