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August 01, 2017

Police might charge man who climbed atop City Hall scaffolding

Philadelphia police are considering charging a man who made an unauthorized climb atop the City Hall clocktower and posted video of his adventure to social media, Capt. Sekou Kinebrew said Tuesday.

The man, identified on his social media pages as Carson King, of Washington, posted a nearly seven-minute video of his foray on the scaffolding that surrounded the William Penn statue atop the municipal building earlier this summer.

At one point, the video shows King dangling his feet from the scaffolding – some 548 feet above the ground.

"What might seem adventurous or recreational is very, very, very, very dangerous," Kinebrew said. "I can't stress that enough. And it's also possibly illegal."

The Central Detective Division is investigating the matter from a trespassing standpoint, Kinebrew said. They unsure how – or exactly when – King made his way onto the building's roof, up the clocktower and onto the scaffolding.

The scaffolding was erected earlier this year as renovations were done to the 37-foot, bronze statue of Penn. The scaffolding was removed on July 21, Kinebrew said.

The police department's homeland security unit and the city's Office of Public Property have been conducting a security audit and overhaul of City Hall, Kinebrew said. 

"This just gives us more reason to continue doing that, to take the necessary measures we need to take," he said.

Police have not made contact with King, who declined to verify his identity when interviewed Monday by PhillyVoice via Facebook.

It does not appear King vandalized or stole anything from City Hall, Kinebrew said. Police are unsure whether he picked any locks to gain access – the video, which is edited, does not reveal that information.

On Monday, King told PhillyVoice that he does not damage or take anything from the places he explores. He said he did not pick any locks or see any signs prohibiting him from accessing the clocktower.

"That may be true but, of course, the roof is not a general entrance for the public," Kinebrew said. "It's sort of an understanding."

King did not immediately return a request for comment on Tuesday. He previously said he decided to climb City Hall because it is a historic landmark that offered an "amazing" view.

"I wanted to be the first to take pictures from there without having the thick glass barrier on the sky deck in my way," King said. "When they put up the scaffolding to clean old Billy I figured why not and so I did."

But Kinebrew stressed that what King did was dangerous and unauthorized. Upon seeing the video, Kinebrew said he was scared for him.

"You're looking at the height," Kinebrew said. "You're looking at the distance from where he was from the ground. Nothing but bad things can happen. 

"It doesn't show if he's got any rigging equipment or if he's secured. It just looks like he's climbing. It's very, very poor judgment."