RUN AMOK (NONFICTION)

1985 and 1986

Every city has a past they would like to erase.

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Sir Sly w/& Run

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RUN AMOK (Nonfiction)
by Kendall F. Person

 

Philadelphia 1985

from the City of Brotherly Love
Even before modern man invented weapons of mass destruction, we have tried to not just annihilate one another, but to consume the earth in flames. News of unrest in Israel or Palestine, has become so commonplace, we barely bat an eye. Some cities avoid destruction, like Pretoria, whose release of Nelson Mandela averted a catastrophic civil war. Some cities, catch the world totally by surprise. When Ferguson, Missouri, erupted, the images were so disturbing, they became nearly impossible to watch. But one city did go the Full Monte. A power struggle emerged, and when it finally ended, America’s 5th largest city, was left in a state of shock.PHILADELPHIA 1985

Founded in 1972, MOVE – also known as the Christian Movement for Life – appeared, on the surface, to be a peaceful organization determined to live a more natural life. But the discovery, they had children living in squalor and were not peace seekers but were amassing arms, placed the organization in the cross-hairs of city government and the FBI.  An eviction notice by the city was entered, and said notice was  ignored.  W. Wilson Goode, former mayor of Philadelphia and John Africa, MOVE’s charismatic leader, became locked in a showdown of bravado, both beat upon their chests, neither would back down.

While it was apparent, that John Africa, and his movement were not law abiding citizens, no one in the city was prepared for how high the stakes were about to be raised. On May 13, 1985, several members of the movement had been indicted and the city police force was instructed to evict the rest from their home, which happened to be in a row of attached houses. The adjoining homes were evacuated, just before the standoff turned violent, but 11 people including 5 kids remained inside the compound. Shots fired in both directions, as both sides dug in, but the mayor soon tired of child’s play and forgone diplomacy. Commandeering a state helicopter, he played the trump card. When Mayor Goode  finally gave the order, from the sky above, two one-pound bombs were dropped on the row houses, killing everyone inside and destroying the entire block.

Sacramento 1986

from Black Dolphin
In 1986, northern California would be hit by the Pineapple Express, a series of storms originating in the pacific ocean and lining up like box cars, slamming into the Golden State one right after the next. Prone to droughts, it did not take long for the rivers and system of levees to fill to their brims and the saturated ground could take no more, but still the rains came and it would not be long before the levee system, built to protect the low lying valley floor from flooding – failed. In the capital city of the most populous state in the union, Sacramento sat at the bulls eye of catastrophe, both man made and natural disaster.

Sacramento 1985The levees were filling quickly and the precious vacant land in a flood zone now known as Natomas were threatening to break, inundating the area and setting back construction of the new neighborhood for months. Lobbyist for the real estate tycoons performed their due diligence, getting the city and state government to side with the wealthy land developers, and against the working class citizens. As the rains increased in determination – in inch an hour in some places – unheard of in the desert landscaping, a decision from the highest reach of state government was made.

To protect the vacant land and to save the developers a few precious months delay, flood waters were diverted to a very occupied part of  the city, that no one gave a damn about. And without any warning to the long term residents, young and old, filled with mostly African American and Latinos, the dams running along “that” side of town were soon overwhelmed by torrents of rain and the diversion of the flood waters. Akin to an explosion, the levee gave way and a wall of murky water was unleashed. Within minutes, an entire neighborhood known as Strawberry Manors, was  completely drowned beneath the flood waters.

this is… The Neighborhood 
created by Kendall F. Person

RUN AMOK (fiction)



 

One Comment on “RUN AMOK (NONFICTION)

  1. Pingback: RUN AMOK (FICTION) | The Neighborhood

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