Hannah Sassaman forwarded this release:
June 13th, 2007. Philadelphia Police descended upon the home of homeowners who have been questioning police tactics in Mayor Nutters new “stop and frisk” program. 4 residents were arrested in their home at 17th street and Ridge Avenue, and the police are in the process of sealing the building. The homeowners are being held at the police station, no charges have yet been filed.
Homeowners had been circulating petitions calling upon Mayor Nutter and Police Commissioner Ramsey to attend community meetings on the use of excessive force, surveilance cameras, and the new “stop and frisk” policy. The mayor and police chief have declined to attend these community forums, but instead have seized the home and possessions of those who question “Stop and Frisk,” and are currently holding them in jail. While many civil liberties advocates and residents of affected neighborhoods have questioned the new police tactics, few imagined that
simple criticism of a city policy could result in the seizure of one’s home and subject residents to arrest.
And more from Philly IMC:
June 14th 8:10 AM Philadelphia. Homeowners were released from custody after being held without charges for up to 14 hours early this morning. The 4 were taken into custody yesterday after police arrived at their door without a warrant demanding entry to the premises. Upon being refused entry without the proper paperwork they arrested the homeowners and forced entry to the premises. After arresting the homeowners the police proceeded to call the Department of Licenses and Inspections which found the property in violation of various codes and permits and ordered the building cleaned and sealed. Homeowners were told they will have 1 hour at ten am to retrieve personal belongings before their home is sealed. Officials claim that the homeowners will no longer be able to access their property without violating a trespassing law. Police cruisers sat watch in front of the property all night long. Homeowners were released at 3:30 in the morning. Representatives of the homeowners will be present to make a statement while they retrieve some of their possessions. The police operation was led by 9th district Commanding Officer, Captain Wilson.
A couple things to note:
- The use of License & Inspections to penalize those who are ‘unpopular’ by well-connected persons is a hallmark of Philadelphia. Good people at the South Philly Atheneum were subject to this in 2005.
- The area around 17th & Ridge is at the edge of new development coming up from Center City, and there are many folks land-banking and holding onto delinquent houses in the area to cash-in during the next real estate boom. I used to bike up this way while working at the Teen Program. I’m not sure if this is the house, but it is representative of many of the houses along this strip:
The question is why now, and on what grounds did the Police and L&I have the right to perform this raid? There are hundreds of buildings in the area that have property violations.
It seems this was politically motivated, but remains unclear until further information is revealed.