The New York Daily News has identified Stephen Rogata as the climber who has been apprehended by the NYPD after an attempt to scale the 68-story Trump Tower Wednesday evening. Local ABC News affiliate WPIX reports that he was pulled through a window about three hours after beginning his attempt. They add that his climb up the south face of Trump Tower was undertaken using only ropes and suction cups.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the event, which commenced at approximately 4 p.m. eastern time, “led authorities to shut down East 56th Street between Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue. Large crowds gathered at intersections to observe the climb.”
Twitter user Will Black (@WillBlackWriter) shared a vine from Beatrice E. Peterson that shows a large panel of glass from the tower just missing Rogata as he continues his climb. The NYPD had knocked out a glass pane from the tower using window washing scaffolding on the 14th floor in their efforts to intercept the climber.
Throwing glass down on someone trying to climb a billionaire's tower is a perfect metaphor for rigged brutish USA https://t.co/EtUrbT5EDc
— Will Black (@WillBlackWriter) August 10, 2016
Stephen ignored requests from the police for him to cease; during this time airbags were placed on a 5th floor landing and at street level, should the climber have fallen.
Rogata, already known across several news outlets and social media as the “Trump Tower Climber,” is believed to be from Virginia, according to “police sources” cited by the New York Daily News. Nefarious intent was quickly ruled out, with one NYPD official telling ABC News,
“This is clearly a stunt guy. The guy doesn’t appear to be here to do anything evil.”
The report from ABC continues to detail public response, with audible cheers and gasps corresponding with Stephen’s attempt and slips respectively.
A tweet from @ReutersLive posted at 5:38 p.m. depicts Rogata being snatched into a 21st-story window by NYPD policemen.
— Reuters Live (@ReutersLive) August 10, 2016
Not much is known about Stephen Rogata. Heavy reported that he had been transported to Bellevue Hospital for a psychiatric assessment. Police stated in an earlier press conference that the 20-year-old had been staying at a local New York City hotel since Tuesday, when he arrived from his home state of Virginia. More mysteriously, the climber informed authorities that he had once used a different former name, which has not been released at this time.
The Trump Tower has a bit of a controversial history itself. Completed in 1984, Donald Trump drew scorn when he demolished the architecturally notable Fifth Avenue flagship store of Bonwit Teller, a now-defunct department store chain, to make way for his new building. Tonight’s controversial incident only draws additional attention to Trump’s current bid to win the 2016 presidential election.
The YouTube video featured above supposedly depicts Rogata, speaking astutely to Donald Trump. He asks that Trump “excuse his manner of appearance” and that he is an “independent researcher seeking a private audience with [Trump] to discuss an important matter.” He insists that people vote for Trump and continues,
“I guarantee it is in your interest to honor this request. Believe me if my purpose was not significant, I would not risk my life pursuing it. The reason I climbed your tower was to get your attention. If I had sought this by conventional means I would be much less likely to have success because you are a busy man with many responsibilities. I’ll get my contact information to your campaign so that if you are interested you can respond. As for anyone else who is watching, please help this video go viral so it gets to Mr. Trump and be sure to vote for Mr. Trump in the 2016 election.”
This type of stunt is definitely not without precedent. 1977 saw George Willig as the climber who ascended the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Dan Goodwin, known as “SpiderDan,” made headlines in the 1980s when he scaled the Willis (then Sears) Tower in Chicago; the North Tower of the World Trade Center; CN Tower in Toronto, Canada; and several others. Alain Roberts achieved international notoriety as recently as 2011 when he surmounted Burj Khalifa, a tower in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the world’s tallest which stands at 2,722 feet tall to its tip.
No, it is not the feat itself of this recent media sensation, Stephen Rogata, the “Trump Tower Climber” that is unique, but the political motivations of this climber that make the event noteworthy. While others endeavor to accomplish the challenge of scaling some of our tallest manmade structures as a personal achievement, Rogata seems to have the election on his mind. This story continues to develop; the results of the psychiatric evaluation performed on the failed climber will certainly provide additional insight.
[Photo by Julie Jacobson/AP Images]