The Guardian: Man climbs Trump Tower in New York City using suction cups
A 20-year-old Virginia man seeking an “audience” with Donald Trump used large suction cups to scale the outside of Trump Tower on Wednesday for three hours, reaching the 21st floor before being hauled through a window by police.
The climber – a young, white male with long brown hair and muttonchops – wore a backpack and used a harness and rope stirrups to fasten himself to the side of the 58-story Manhattan skyscraper, above Fifth Avenue.
The man used four suction cup-like devices, each with ropes attached for him to stand on. The building’s windows were apparently too dirty for the cups to attach to, as he frequently stopped to clean the windows before attempting to attach to them.
Police officers smashed windows and broke through a ventilation duct in an attempt to block his progress. Officers also lowered themselves toward him using a window washer’s platform.
For a long time, the climber played a slow-motion cat-and-mouse game with officers, eluding them by methodically working his way across the facade and the angled corners of the building. The chase ended dramatically just after 6.30pm.
As a crowd gasped on the street below, two officers leaning far out of a window frame where the glass was removed grabbed the climber’s arm and backpack, and in a flash yanked him from his dangling stirrups. He went through the opening head first, his legs pointed skyward.
Police had deployed large, inflated crash pads at the scene, but it was unclear whether they were positioned close enough to where the man was climbing to offer any protection if he fell.
He was speaking with officers through the holes cut in the side of the building. When would-be rescuers smashed a window above him, he ducked to avoid big shards of glass that fell.
They collectively inhaled as he was pulled inside. “I’m so disappointed,” a young man said. Others sadly lamented that they missed it.
Police blocked off much of 56th Street, the south side of the tower, where the man was climbing. The crowds pressed together in the heat and humidity and spilled onto Madison Avenue. With smartphones and cameras raised, they documented the strange occurrence on Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook Live. In offices nearby, some watched from the windows.
“I gotta get this shit on camera. This is hilarious,” one man said. Others wondered if the climber – whom many were calling Steve – was getting tired. Another yelled “Make America great again”. Others offered their own theories on why the man was doing this. “It’s gotta be a protest,” a man said.
Some disagreed. “I think it’s just a daredevil,” said Carolyn Gatchell, a nurse from New Hampshire. “I think it’s ironic because it’s a Trump building. I’m anxious to see what he has to say about it.” Gatchell and her husband, Bill, in town on vacation, were at the Empire State building when they saw helicopters near Trump Tower so they headed down to check out what was going on. “I think it’s innocent – not a terrorist or anything,” Bill added of the climbers’ motivation.
The day before, police said, the climber posted a video on YouTube entitled: Message to Mr Trump (why I climbed your tower).
“I am an independent researcher seeking a private audience with you to discuss an important matter. I guarantee that it’s in your interest to honor this request,” he said in the video. “Believe me, if my purpose was not significant, I would not risk my life pursuing it. The reason I climbed your tower is to get your attention. If I had sought this via conventional means, I would be much less likely to have success because you are a busy man with many responsibilities.”
NYPD assistant chief William Aubrey said the man, who was not named by police, told officers the same thing after he was safely inside the building.
“At no time did he express that he wanted to hurt anybody,” Aubrey added.
The tower is headquarters to Trump’s Republican presidential campaign and his business empire. Trump also lives there, though he was in Virginia on Wednesday afternoon and was headed to Florida for an evening event.
Kathy, a Trump supporter from Sunnyside, was visiting a friend nearby when she saw the crowds. She said she used to work in the building but not for Trump and was concerned for the safety of former coworkers who might be there, as well as Trump. She was relieved to find out that he was away . “People want to be around him,” she said of Trump. “They will glom onto anything like him. Look how much attention this guy is getting.”
About 20 police officers funneled curious onlookers out of the street so cars could pass unhindered down Madison Avenue. Those who moved across the street could still see the building where the climber was approaching an open window and police.