Thursday, July 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Who Wrote 'Kill The Pigs' at 17th & Ridge?

Now that he's had time to think -- and 10 hours in police detention gives you time for introspection -- Dan Moffat  concedes things might have gone better if he'd cooperated.

When officers came to his door in Francisville Friday mo

Who Wrote 'Kill The Pigs' at 17th & Ridge?

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Photo by Christina Mazza/Daily News

Now that he's had time to think -- and 10 hours in police detention gives you time for introspection -- Dan Moffat  concedes things might have gone better if he'd cooperated.

When officers came to his door in Francisville Friday morning about 10 a.m. asking to speak to the owner of the property where he and three roommates were living, he said the guy wasn't home.

Even though he's been co-owner of the place since 2004.

And when they said they were going in anyway to investigate a complaint, he says he probably shouldn't have tossed the keys behind a gate where the cops had to fish them out.

He woundup cuffed in the back of a squad car for a couple hot hours then taken to the 9th District where he was held another eight hours as the police sorted out what was happening in his house before freeing everyone without bringing charges.

But not before the police thoroughly searched the place, carting away a computer, and L & I sealed the building, leaving the four roommates homeless. Police told a City Paper reporter on the scene that the roommates were being investigated for belonging to a hate group or terror cell.

The four roommates -- two men and two women in their 20s -- are to appear at a press conference outside City Hall at 1 today to make their case that they were mistreated by police, who they say searched before getting a warrant. Accusations on both sides are prickly.

I talked to Moffat yesterday. He said he's interviewing lawyers. He said he does not know why he was targeted by police, but he had been going around the neighborhood with a petition that questioned why police had installed five security cameras on utility poles without asking for imput of the residents. He also had been getting names on a petition calling for city leaders to address the community about the recent police beating that involved 18 officers.

He says police came to his door investigating whether the group was living legally above the old Gilbert's Shoes store at 1652 Ridge Ave.

That wasn't why they were there, police say. Department  spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore said one of the neighborhood surveillance cameras had been spray painted yellow and was out of commission. Someone living nearby fingered people living in Moffat's house, which is why the police went there, Vanore said.

And when two women inside wouldn't give their names, and Moffat said he didn't know where to find the owner, police assumed the group was trespassing.

Moffat says he messed up. "I just woke up and was making bad decisions," he says. He's not an anarchist. Not even an activist, at 28, unless you consider feeding neighborhood residents on Fridays from their community garden to be activism.

Yet police say they 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 that, Moffit  says, it was the police, themselves.

Vanore says the police had every right to be there to investigate vandalism to the camera, especially after finding the writing on the wall and the beginnings of what he called a bunker on the roof.

"We've seen things like this in Philadelphia that lead to bad situations. We're trying to be proactive. The totality of what the officers saw there led to further investigation."

Moffat scoffs at the word bunker, which, of course, was what the MOVE group had atop their home.

"We have a greenhouse on the roof."

So the investigation continues. Moffat and friends hold a press conference, consider lawyers, and someone isn't telling the truth. The Daily News has an account as well.

All I know is that if a bunch of cops came to my door and woke me up -- at 3 a.m. even -- my instinct would be to cooperate to the point of blurting out anything I'd ever done, including not telling on my friend Gary when he stole a comb from Mr. Vincent's barbershop 40 years ago. But that's just conservative old me.

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