Penn Museum Under Fire After Mothers of Victims Who Died During Bombing Claim the Institution Didn’t Inform Them They Held Their Remains

by Xara Aziz
YouTube via NBC10

A group of mothers whose children died during the 1985 MOVE bombing is calling out a Philadelphia museum about how it has chosen to handle the remains of those who died during the incident.

In 1985, Philadelphia officials ordered the bombings to take place after a shooting took place between members of a revolutionary group named MOVE and the police.

Six adults and five children were killed as a result of the bombing, Phil Africa, 11, Tomaso Africa, 8, Delicia Orr Africa, 13, Katricia Africa, 13 and Zanetta Africa, 11. They had all been in a home in the city’s Cobbs Creek neighborhood and the incident has since been described as one of the goriest acts of violence in the city’s history.

Over 30 years later, the city faces a new scandal after MOVE members discovered that the city medical examiner gave the human remains from the bombing to Penn Museum for identification. It has sparked a wave of protests and outrage.

“I’ve got family members who told me that they buried my children,” Consuewella Africa, mother of Katricia and Zanetta, told NBC10. “Now, [38] years later they’re talking about, they’ve got bones.” 

Since the discovery, the museum has apologized to members of the deceased’s families.

“I don’t appreciate and we don’t like the fact that these people did what they did and then dictated to us what they’re going to do with them,” Janet Africa, the mother of Delicia, said. 

Penn Museum reached out to mothers to inform them that they have since given the remains of their loved ones to a local funeral home, the mothers said, adding that they did not give the museum authorization to do so.

“We’re still meeting as an organization, as a family, making a decision,” Sue Africa, mother of Tomaso Africa, told NBC10. “But you have to understand our suspicion and reluctance.” 

They further added that they do not believe the remains are those of their loved ones.

“This is something that you would never imagine,” Consuewella Africa said. “I mean, dropping a bomb in a city!” 

The families have since hired attorneys Joe Tucker and Carl Singley of the Tucker Law Group to investigate the matter. The institution said they would release their findings as soon as it becomes available.

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