Protester hangs from New York's Tappan Zee Bridge for hours

Story highlights

  • The man used a rope and a harness to suspend himself
  • Police eventually lowered him into the water, and he was taken into custody
  • The man carried a sign protesting local county officials
A protester dangled off the Tappan Zee Bridge using a rope and harness for several hours Monday before police lowered him into the Hudson River and took him into custody.
Around 10:30 a.m. Monday, a man police later identified as Michael Davitt lowered himself from the bridge span to a spot about halfway between the deck of the bridge and the water, according to Rockland County, New York, Sheriff James Kralik.
He carried a sign, part of which could be read in video shot by news helicopters. It said: "Rockland Executive Legislature Coverup Retaliation." The bottom part of the sign was not legible in video.
After three hours, New York state police ended the protest by lowering the man on his own rope into the Hudson River according to Kralik.
As he was being lowered, the man removed his pants and "jumped into the water at the last possible minute," Kralik said.
He attempted to swim away but then gave up. "I'm guessing that the cold water got his attention," Kralik said.
Davitt was dismissed from his job as a substance-abuse counselor at the county's department of mental health in 2008, according to Ron Levine, a spokesman for the Rockland County Executive.
"He wasn't able to perform essential job functions," Levine said Monday.
Davitt regularly protested his firing in front of government buildings and at open meetings of the county legislature, local officials said.
"He has come to numerous meetings and will often really raise his voice and yell about his situation," Rockland County legislator Connie Coker said.
Davitt "made enough of a commotion" at the meetings that legislators requested to have a security guard attend them, Kralik said.
"You couldn't help but be concerned for him because he was just so unhappy," Coker said.
The Tappan Zee Bridge, about 30 miles north of New York City, links Rockland County to Westchester County in southern New York state
Traffic continued moving across the bridge during the protest.
It was not immediately clear what charges Davitt would face.