PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The site of the 1985 MOVE Bombing was scheduled to get a historical marker installed this week along Cobbs Creek Parkway; but the effort stalled, due to confusion over just where it should go.
“I was hearing hints that there might be a problem,” says Karen Falcon, founder of the Jubilee School in West Philadelphia.
She oversaw the fifth and sixth graders who made up the social justice club, “Songs of the Children.” They applied for a historical marker to capture the 1985 MOVE tragedy and were ecstatic when the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission approved their effort in March.
They were told the marker would be placed on Cobbs Creek parkway. Then last week, they heard rumblings.
“We were told neighbors were not happy about having it on the parkway,” says Falcon, “we heard through the grapevine that this person didn’t like this thing or that person didn’t like another.”
The Department of Parks and Recreation did not grant the streets department the permit to erect the marker. Why is still up in the air.
A city spokesperson told KYW Newsradio that “the city is reaching out to stakeholders to see where the marker is going to go.”
Sources say one option is on the sidewalk at Osage and Cobbs Creek. Another option is on the private property of a resident who lives on the block.
“It’s not our priority right now,” says Gerald Renfrow, block captain and designated spokesman for the residents of Osage Ave.
He says neighbors want the marker and are glad the tragedy will never be forgotten, but the neighbors are more concerned with ensuring the city rehabs the dozens of vacant properties still impacted by the incident.
“We’ve been working on this since 2000,” says Renfrow, “our property values have dropped– our priority for now is to get these boarded up houses fixed.”
The city of Philadelphia recently named a contractor for the Osage Avenue Project. Renfrow says neighbors were told construction will begin next year.
“Everything will be done and we will make everyone happy,” says Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell.
She says she didn’t hear any direct complaints about placement of the marker, but this is a sensitive issue so they want to ensure everyone is heard. She says the MOVE Bombing historical marker will be installed; the only questions are when and where.
“We will have the marker dedication to acknowledge the work of the students,” she says, “It just won’t be permanent tomorrow.”
The dedication ceremony is organized by the students at the Jubilee School and will take place Saturday, June 24th, near Osage and Cobbs Creek at 3pm. The marker will be displayed on a platform during the event.
Organizers say speakers include poets Sonia Sanchez and Ursula Rucker, Ramona Africa, State Senator Anthony Williams, musicians Kindred the Family Soul, and local activists.