Brooks sees 1985 events as unique

Posted: May 12, 2010

In the days before May 13, 1985, Managing Director Leo A. Brooks became known as the man who wasn't there.

Mayor W. Wilson Goode had picked Brooks, a retired Army general, to supervise efforts to dislodge MOVE members from their Osage Avenue rowhouse.

But Brooks' daughter was graduating from college, and he left town May 9, returning on May 12, when police action was imminent.

Testifying later before the MOVE Commission, Brooks characterized the tragedy as unique. "I don't think in the history of our nation there has ever been a situation quite like that one. And I seriously doubt that there ever will be one exactly like that one again."

Other excerpts of his testimony:

Question: Did you have a belief . . . that at some point there was going to be a violent confrontation with the MOVE organization?

Answer: I think well before . . . May of 1985 . . . I saw in my own mind a situation which we have all seen before . . . where each time you give, the opposing side moves closer. Each time you show more restraint, that restraint is used up, until a confrontation can be precipitated. I always hoped that there never would be one.

Q: Did you give any instructions to the Police Department to prepare contingency plans for that day . . . ?

A: No, I did not.

The Brooks family's long military tradition dates back to his great-grandfather, who escaped from slavery to join the Union forces in the Civil War.

A month after MOVE, Brooks resigned and returned to his native Virginia. Now 77, he has said little in the years since, and recent efforts to reach him were unsuccessful.

   - Connie Langland

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