Let the Fire Burn is a 2013 documentary film about the events leading up to and surrounding a 1985 stand-off between the black liberation group MOVE and the Philadelphia Police Department. The film is directed and produced by Jason Osder and is being distributed by Zeitgeist Films.
It was released in October 2013.
The MOVE organization was originally established as a "back to nature" movement that practiced "green" methods. When their methods became more radical, featuring profane bullhorn speeches, unsanitary conditions, and questionable child raising, the group began to draw the attention of the Philadelphia community and the police alike. The conviction of nine members for the third degree murder of a policeman after a shoot-out in 1978 further cemented the group's belief that the police were corrupt and determined to bring the movement down.
In 1985, after countless complaints from neighbors about obscene broadcasts and health hazards, the police department decided to take action to evict the group from their row house on Osage Avenue. When gun fire broke out and tear gas was not enough to pull the MOVE members out of the house, the police decided to drop explosives on the house.
A fire soon began to blaze, endangering the several children now trapped inside the house. In a controversial decision, the police made the decision to "let the fire burn", resulting in the destruction of over 60 homes and the death of five children and six adults. The investigation commission that followed found that city leaders and law enforcement had acted negligently, but no criminal charges were filed.