May 13, 1985: Philly Bombs, Literally
By Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia loves to brag about it’s ‘Firsts,’ citing such notable things as the nation’s first capital (1774), America’s first zoo (1874) and the birthplace of the world’s first digital computer ENIAC (1946).
There is one ‘First’ that will never appear in slick tourist handouts from the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau though, and that’s the city’s first air raid on May 13, 1985, when the city deliberately bombed an occupied house containing children, sparking a deadly firestorm.
A bomb dropped on an American city by that city’s own police force?
Yes, a bomb made with hi-explosive military C-4 and powerful Tovex dropped by Philadelphia police from a Pennsylvania State Police helicopter onto the roof of 6221 Osage Ave., located in West Philadelphia just blocks from the University of Pennsylvania – considered America’s ‘First’ university.
That 5:27PM bombing ignited a small fire that grew steadily because of an unconscionable decision by Philadelphia’s then Police Commissioner, Greg Sambor.
The commissioner ordered arriving firefighters not to fight the spreading blaze, telling them to “let the fire burn” because he wanted to use the flames as a “tactical weapon” to drive out persons barricaded inside the bombed house...
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