Police Raid Questioned

Daniel Moffat is searching for answers.

He wants to know why Philadelphia police raided his Francisville home Friday without a warrant, and why the Department of Licenses and Inspections subsequently boarded it up.

Outside City Hall yesterday, Moffat and one of his roommates were joined by about 150 people at a rally, where they called the Police Department's actions "illegal."

"There is something really wrong when the police can break into homes, arrest people, and hand it off to L&I," Moffat told those gathered at the rally.

Moffat, 28, said he was making breakfast about 10 a.m. Friday when he heard a knock on the door.

Police, led by Ninth District Capt. Dennis Wilson, had come to investigate a complaint about one of the neighborhood surveillance cameras that had been vandalized.

Lt. Frank Vanore, a department spokesman, said that the camera had been spray-painted yellow and was out of commission, and that a neighbor had pointed to people living in Moffat's house.

When police asked for the property owner, Moffat told them the owner wasn't home, even though he has been co-owner of the place for years.

And two women inside refused to give police their names, all of which led police to believe that they were trespassing, said Vanore.

When police attempted to enter the house, Moffat threw the keys behind a gate, and the officers had to fish them out.

Even though he wasn't arrested, Moffat said police sat him handcuffed in the back of a squad car for several hours, then took him to the Ninth District, where he was held eight hours more.

Vanore said that police recovered anti-police propaganda in the house, and that someone had written "Kill the Pigs" in yellow spray paint on the walls.

If anyone did it, Moffat said, it was the police themselves.

Vanore said police also found the beginnings of what he called a bunker on the roof.

"The police have painted myself and my roommates as troublemakers," Moffat said at yesterday's rally. "As far as I'm concerned, they're trying to justify their illegal actions."

After receiving a call from police, according to an L&I report, an inspector found numerous code and fire violations in the property, including an illegal rooming house, propane tanks being used for heating and cooking, and a partially collapsed ceiling.

Moffat said he has no idea why his home was targeted by police other than he'd been handing out petitions in the neighborhood regarding the recent videotaped police beating of three suspects.

Moffat and his three roommates have lived in the house on the 1600 block of Ridge Avenue for 3-1/2 years, where he said they had been working on their home and in the community, giving out free food on Fridays, and maintaining a community garden.

"What happened to us is not an isolated incident," said one of Moffat's roommates, Jennifer Rock, 25. "If we don't hold the police responsible for their actions, who will?"

"What we heard so far concerns us," said Kelvyn Anderson, deputy director for the Police Advisory Commission, who attended yesterday's rally. "And we're going to be informing these folks of their right to file a complaint."

Moffat moved to Philadelphia from Los Angeles in 2003. He said he came to visit friends, and loved the city so much he never left.

He said that he wasn't aware of any code violations on the property and that he was waiting for a copy of the report from L&I. He's also considering hiring a lawyer.

In the meantime, he has been sleeping on friends' sofas until the issue is resolved.

"I can't explain how painful it is to be kicked out of our home," he said. "We just want this matter resolved and our home back."

This is a follow-up to THIS ARTICLE and THIS COMMENTARY.