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Bones of Black Children Killed By Police Are Used in Class

Families of MOVE bombing victims haven't given permission
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 23, 2021 4:11 PM CDT

(Newser) – Five children, ages 7 to 14 were among the 11 MOVE members killed in 1985 when Philadelphia police dropped a bomb from a helicopter onto the group's house. The city apologized for the attack last November, with the mayor saying, "This year we saw the pain and trauma caused by the MOVE bombing are still alive in West Philadelphia." The trauma has been renewed with a new revelation: The burned bones of two of the Black children who died have been used in an online forensic anthropology course. They've been used for teaching purposes without the permission of the victims' parents, who are still alive, since 2019, the Guardian reports. The online platform Coursera hosts the class, which appears under the name of Princeton University. It was filmed two years ago and is taught by Janet Monge, a visiting professor at Princeton and an adjunct at the University of Pennsylvania. She doesn't say in class that relatives haven't given permission for the display. Almost 5,000 students have enrolled in the course. No one seems to know where the remains are now, per Billy Penn.

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Monge picks up the bones and discusses them matter-of-factly. "If you smell it, it doesn't actually smell bad," she says. MOVE called itself a back-to-nature movement that wanted to eliminate government and return US land to Native Americans, per the New York Times; the city considered it a "violence-threatening cult." The bombing took place when police were trying to expel the group from its row house after neighbors complained. The resulting fire raged through the neighborhood, destroying 61 homes. At least some of the bones most likely belong to Tree Africa, 14. "After 36 years we find out that not only were these children abused and mistreated and bombed and burned, they haven’t even been allowed to rest in peace," said her friend Michael Africa Jr., who was 6 when the house was bombed. For the first time, Philadelphia plans an official day of remembrance for this year's anniversary. "Nobody said you can do that, holding up their bones for the camera," Africa said, adding, "The anthropology professor is holding the bones of a 14-year-old girl whose mother is still alive and grieving." (Read more MOVE stories.)

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