Philly health official forced to resign over MOVE cremations

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia's top health official was forced to resign Thursday after the city's mayor said he learned human remains from the 1985 bombing of the headquarters of a Black organization had been cremated and disposed of without notifying family members.

Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement that Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley decided to cremate and dispose of the remains of the MOVE bombing victims several years ago. A message seeking comment was sent to Farley's city government email address.

Kenney said Farley's decision lacked empathy. The city's medical examiner has also been put on leave pending an investigation, Kenney said.

Philadelphia police were attempting to evict the Black back-to-nature group from its headquarters in the city and bombed it, igniting fuel for a generator. The fire spread to more than 60 row homes. Among the 11 slain were five children.

Kenney said he informed family members about what officials did with the remains. Thursday is the 36th anniversary of the bombing.

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“Today, I had the opportunity to meet with members of the Africa family and apologize for the way this situation was handled, and for how the city has treated them for the last five decades," Kenney said.

Kenney said Farley took responsibility and resigned. The city has hired a law firm to investigate.

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