New York City

NYC pols seek increased penalties for bridge, infrastructure trespassing

Fed up with tourists climbing on the Brooklyn Bridge

November 18, 2014 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Officials gathered in a freezing wind on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade on Tuesday to announce legislation to increase penalties for trespassing on the city’s critical infrastructure, including bridges, government facilities and high-profile structures like the World Trade Center.

“What we’re saying is this: If you come to New York and walk on the walkway, you will have a great vacation. But if you trespass on the structure, you’re going to have a longer incarceration,” said Borough President Eric Adams.

Bill sponsors State Sen. Daniel Squadron and Assemblymember Joseph Lentol joined Adams for the press conference.

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The announcement came after the third incident since July involving tourists climbing the Brooklyn Bridge. On Sunday, Nov. 16, 23-year-old French tourist Yonathan Souid climbed over a fence on the pedestrian walkway to take photos. He has been charged with reckless endangerment and criminal trespass.

In July, German artists stole the two American flags from the towers, replacing them with white ones. In August, a Russian tourist climbed to the top of the bridge to take pictures.

“This legislation will change all cases of trespassing on high profile structures such as bridges, tunnels or other critical infrastructure not intended for public access to criminal trespass in the second degree, a Class A Misdemeanor, that carries no more than one year in jail and a thousand dollar fine,” Adams said.

Sen. Daniel Squadron, who will be introducing the bill in the Senate, said the incidents were no joke.

“If you look at the police presence that’s been necessary on the Brooklyn Bridge since these incidents have started, you see the cost to the city. Those are counter terrorism officials that should and could be deployed elsewhere if these folks simply stopped with these pranks that are not simply a joke or a small lark.”

Squadron pointed out that his district includes the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, the Williamsburg Bridge, the World Trade Center site and any number of transit centers.

“Trespassing at One World Trade Center, at the Brooklyn Bridge and any of our other critical infrastructure creates fear, creates the need for enormous resources, and must be treated as a more serious crime than simple trespassing,” he said.

Assemblymember Joe Lentol, the Assembly sponsor of the bill, credited Adams for coming up with the idea of increasing penalties.

“If you trespass on a bridge, you’re endangering people’s lives. Our primary job in office is to protect people – life and property. If you’re on a bridge trespassing, you’re not only endangering you own life, you’re endangering other lives, especially the first responders who have to put their lives in jeopardy in order to get you down in case you get stuck on the bridge,” Lentol said. “Secondly, you’re endangering the lives of many pedestrians. What happens if you fall?”

Sen. Charles Schumer is introducing similar legislation on the federal level. In a statement, he applauded the proposed state legislation.

The proposed legislation, called the Critical Infrastructure Safety Act, would apply the same definition of critical infrastructure as used by the Department of Homeland Security, a spokesperson for Sen. Squadron told the Brooklyn Eagle. Examples might include bridges, hospitals, water treatment plants, government facilities, systems and assets vital to the city and the state, he said.

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