PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There is growing outrage over the handling of human remains from the MOVE bombing in May 1985. Demonstrators, including members of the Africa family, are converging on the University of Pennsylvania campus Wednesday night.
The University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University are under fire in this growing scandal.
Two Ivy League university campuses unite in protest. Penn and Princeton are connected by a recently disclosed, deeply painful controversy.
“When I looked at it, I was horrified and it’s very painful for a lot of my peers. And just to kind of see it out in the open, there’s definitely that shock, but for this to happen at Princeton, it’s not it happens all the time,” Princeton senior Aisha Tahir said.
Years ago, Penn was asked to help positively identify remains from the 1985 MOVE bombing in West Philadelphia, where 11 members of the Africa family died.
Records show the bones believed to be from two teenaged children were sent and analyzed by Professor Alan Mann.
Mann, it’s alleged, took the bones with him to Princeton after retiring from Penn in 2000.
Penn, in a lengthy statement, indicated the remains were used in a forensic anthropology class at Princeton. The class has since been suspended.
CBS3’s efforts to get to the bottom of where those remains are right now took us to a densely wooded neighborhood in Princeton.
A woman who answered the door at the home of Mann told us he declined to come and chat, and that he wouldn’t answer any of our questions.
The Africa family earlier this week blasted the entire handling of the matter. They only learned about the missing remains through the press.
Penn, in part of its statement, wrote: “It is an ethical imperative to show the utmost respect to family survivors. Informed consent must be given by the person before death or by the family afterwards. Regretfully, this did not happen in this case — and it was a serious error in judgment to use these remains in a class of any kind, especially given the extreme emotional distress in our community surrounding the 1985 bombing of the MOVE house.”
Penn says it is working to return the remains and is working with the family.
The Philadelphia Health Department is also working to find out if there was ever a consent form from the family allowing this to take place.
Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber released the below statement Wednesday.
“I was deeply troubled, as many others have been, by the questions that came to light this past week surrounding the treatment of the remains of a victim of the 1985 bombing of the MOVE house in Philadelphia. I am especially concerned that the remains were used for instruction on our campus, including in a publicly available online course created at Princeton for the Coursera platform and taught by a visiting lecturer from the University of Pennsylvania.
Princeton University extends its apologies to the Africa family for the use of the remains in courses offered by Princeton. I believe we have a responsibility to our campus and the larger community to understand fully and clearly the facts surrounding this matter. I have accordingly authorized a fact-finding effort, to be conducted by outside counsel, to help us gain a complete understanding of the scope and nature of Princeton’s role in the handling of the remains and related issues. The University will share its findings and use them to help shape the steps we can take moving forward for our community.
Princeton University’s commitment to teaching and scholarship in the service of humanity depends on treating everyone we encounter with dignity and respect. This includes our campus community, the community at large, and those we encounter through our scholarship. It is important to find and share the facts when we fall short, and to take corrective action that allows us to realize our commitment and fulfill our responsibilities.”