Safeguards for My New York Times Guerrilla Press
By David Malone
Contrary to some false allegations, my guerrilla
conference on the bottom portion of the New York Times fire escape was
carefully planned to avoid any reckless endangerment.
was endangered and no physical injuries resulted from the
public awareness action.
should not surprise people familiar with the building’s unique exterior
apparatus, a fire escape complete with encased ladders and walkways that
(at the time of my climb) be accessed from the center of the public
St via an unobstructed ladder.
Although I was confident in my ability to ascend a fire escape
injuring anyone, I safeguarded my climb by incorporating extensive
to minimize any potential risk to myself and others.
facts about these safety measures include:
- EXPERIENCE: I
have more than adequate climbing
experience as a trained roofer.
For example, an average day on the job involves carrying
one-handed 100 pounds of construction material up a rickety four-story
in a single load, and then carrying this weight up an inclined roof
hoist it over my head to a worker above, then to climb down to the
and repeat this process for eight hours in one-hundred-degree
temperatures. After hundreds of
hours of this work, it was a “breeze” for me to weightlessly ascend
few stories of the perfectly sturdy ladder on the New York Times
escape during a morning with sixty-five degree air temperature. I can personally attest to the validity
of the “French Spiderman’s” assertion (quoted in his New York Times
article) that this was the easiest skyscraper in the world to climb
because it had (at the time of my climb) a publicly accessible fire
- RESEARCH: Prior
to my ascent on the bottom
portion of the fire escape, I thoroughly researched publicly
information on the structure, including the New York Times articles
“the French Spiderman’s” climb. In
addition, I personally surveyed the fire escape up close for eight
in the days prior to my guerrilla press conference.
OBSTACLES: I ensured that there
were no obstacles, including security personnel or barricades,
easy access to the fire escape via the ladder attached to the
the public sidewalk.
METHODOLOGY: I only ascended on
the interior of the fire escape, not on the exterior wall of the
and not on the exterior of the fire escape,
RANGE: I only ascended the bottom
fraction of the fire escape, as opposed to performing the
“endurance” climb up its entire 52-story span,
EQUIPMENT: In addition to bringing
proper supplies (climbing shoes, climber’s talc, food and water), I
performed a “virtually harnessed” climb (positioned securely
building’s exterior wall and the fire escape’s ladder) that
possibility of my falling,
PREPARATION: I ensured my optimal
physical condition through rigorous strength, cardiovascular and
training during the preceding six months,
CLEARED: I ensured that the
sidewalk beneath the area where I was climbing had been barricaded
police before ascending the fire escape so that there were never
pedestrians beneath me,
ZONE: I ensured that my actions
did not pose a significant risk to responding emergency personnel
constantly maintaining a buffer zone that made infeasible any
seize me aggressively from the fire escape. I
carefully pursued dialogue with the police at a distance
via cell phone to ensure that the event of my surrender proceeded
and did not place anyone in danger.
- COMMUNICATION: I
repeatedly stated my motive to the
New York Times and police before and during the guerrilla press
SURRENDER: I surrendered to police
at the prearranged time in a carefully designed, safe manner,
DISRUPTION: I conducted the
guerrilla press conference at a time designed to minimize the
to the local area. Although a
daytime guerrilla press conference would have maximized publicity
message, this timing would have magnified the disruption to the
least ten-fold. Unlike the
previous two climbers of the fire escape, the streets and sidewalks
virtually free of any traffic during this guerrilla press
1:30AM-5:30AM on a Wednesday morning.
Moreover, this public awareness action only occurred at a
there was a minimal demand for emergency services in the local
ensuring the least disruption to this city function.
Like all press conferences, this one
had a police presence. However,
unlike the dozens of relatively frivolous events that occur in
throughout America every day, such as parades, marathons, political
rallies and sporting events, this guerrilla press conference posed a
relatively minor disruption to the city.
In fact, most of the responding emergency personnel seemed
arrived purely to witness a nationally televised event in their
that they had permission to attend.
I have no doubt that if a real emergency had arisen, these
honorable civil servants would have promptly responded to it.
COPY-CATS: I ensured that the New
York Times building managers finally took measures to eliminate
public access to this ladder so there would be no copycats
children) and my climb would mark the end of the 2008 trend of
the Times fire escape.
The New York District Attorney’s office that investigated my conduct on
York Times fire escape concluded that my action warranted a
violation, including: release without bail, no jail, no fine and a mere 8
of community service.
Immediately upon my arrest following the guerrilla
conference, the NYPD had such a favorable disposition towards me that
allowed me a 10-minute interview with a news reporter while I was still
the New York Times building. In the
hours afterwards, I received an overwhelmingly positive response from
NYPD. Dozens of officers congratulated
me (and not one officer berated me) for a successful, meaningful
stunt that endangered no one and caused a most minimal public
relative to preceding stunts.
purpose for this
public awareness action was to help protect America from Al Qaeda by (1)
bringing national attention to crucial intelligence on an imminent
plot (Al Qaeda’s plot to disrupt the 2008 U.S. presidential election
9/11 on Americans abroad (the delayed Mumbai Massacre)) and (2)
silver-bullet strategy that will destroy Al Qaeda’s ideological appeal. In order to announce this vital information
to the nation, I chose to commit a single nonviolent act of civil
by hanging a banner from a fire escape.
Having carefully designed the guerrilla press conference for a
beforehand and having analyzed it afterwards, I remain confident that my
actions were a safe, effective way to offer crucial assistance to
defense against Al Qaeda. I am equally
confident that this opinion is shared by the surviving victims of the
Al Qaeda plot in question, which aimed
in part to collapse two towers in Mumbai and kill over 5,000 people, and
up killing over two hundred civilians.