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‘SpiderDan’ Fights Charges In San Francisco Court

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Dan Goodwin unfurled a flag atop Millennium Tower shortly before San Francisco police arrested him on September 6, 2010. (CBS)

Dan Goodwin unfurled a flag atop Millennium Tower shortly before San Francisco police arrested him on September 6, 2010. (CBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) — A man who gained local fame by scaling a San Francisco luxury residential tower in September is fighting three misdemeanor charges in a trial that started Thursday morning.

Dan Goodwin, also known as “SpiderDan,” used suction cups to climb up the side of the Millennium Tower in the city’s South of Market neighborhood.

Goodwin, 54, was arrested after reaching a 59th floor balcony on top of the building. He was charged with being a public nuisance, trespassing, and delaying or obstructing arrest, and has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Goodwin said he climbed the tower to draw attention to the vulnerability of skyscrapers to major emergencies and terrorist attacks, and has published a book, “Skyscraperman,” on the topic.

During a break in his San Francisco Superior Court trial Thursday, Goodwin told reporters he is “fighting the charges but at the same time making a statement.”

He cited the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York as an example of the lack of rescue options on a skyscraper.

His attorney, Herman Holland, pointed out during the trial that firefighters trying to access the locked door to the roof of the Millennium Tower were delayed because they needed the building’s security manager to provide bolt cutters.

San Francisco fire Battalion Chief Charles Crane, one of the witnesses called to the stand Thursday, testified that the fire department’s rescue ladder only reached the seventh floor of the building.

Prosecutor Michael Maffei said that regardless of the substance of Goodwin’s message, his method of publicizing it was illegal.

“As citizens we have a fundamental right to protest, but with those rights come responsibility,” Maffei said in a nod to a well-known quote from the “Spiderman” comics.

Goodwin said he has climbed about 10 skyscrapers, including a handful where he gained permission from building owners, and has never been convicted of charges for his actions, although he was charged for climbing the John Hancock Center in Chicago in the 1980s.

Maffei said Goodwin is facing the public nuisance charge since authorities had to shut down the entire block of Mission Street where the building is located during his climb.

Goodwin claimed he specifically picked Labor Day for the climb since it was a holiday and the effect on businesses would be minimal. He said he also chose a part of the building away from sidewalks because “I wanted to make sure I didn’t jeopardize anybody’s life.”

He said it is a shame “how much money the state is spending on this with a budget deficit” and accused the district attorney’s office of “trying to silence me.”

Goodwin is expected to take the stand when the trial continues Monday morning.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)

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