SpiderDan takes the stand to take a stand on skyscraper security 

Daniel Dale Goodwin climbed a 58-story building in downtown San Francisco in order to make a statement. His current soapbox: The City’s justice system.

The 55-year-old Goodwin, aka “SpiderDan,” was in court Thursday fighting trespassing and public nuisance charges stemming from the daring Sept. 6 climb in which he used suction cups to scale the Millennium Tower in the South of Market neighborhood.

The stunt shut down a major transit corridor for four hours and lured dozens of police and fire personnel to the building at 301 Mission St. Goodwin said he made the climb to decry the lack of security in America’s skyscrapers.

Though Goodwin fully admits to climbing the building, he pleaded not guilty to the charges. His jury trial began Thursday.



During his opening statement, Assistant District Attorney Michael Maffei said the stunt put people’s lives at risk and on hold.

“We have a fundamental right to protest, but with those rights come responsibility,” Maffei said, paraphrasing the most famous line from the movie “Spider-Man.”

But Herman Holland, the attorney for “SpiderDan,” called Goodwin’s stunt a “thoughtful act,” noting how Goodwin exposed safety problems in city skyscrapers by pointing out that a San Francisco fire truck ladder only went as high as the seventh floor.

Holland grilled the building security manager on the stand on why a bolt cutter was needed to help fire crews gain access to the roof on the day of the climb. The security manager said the key had been lost at the time.

Outside the courtroom, Goodwin was frank about why he took the case to a jury trial: It is “for the cause,” he said. Goodwin cited 9/11 as an example of how people can become trapped in skyscrapers.

“Every day, there are millions of people living and working in these skyscrapers,” Goodwin said. “They don’t have any clue that there is no plan in place.”

Goodwin said he has climbed about 10 skyscrapers and has never been convicted of a crime, although he was charged for climbing the John Hancock Center in Chicago in 1981.

After he reached the 59th floor of the Millennium Tower, firefighters shook hands with Goodwin in support of his climb, Holland said. They helped him tape an American flag to the top of the building, he said.

Maffei said rescue crews only pretended to support him to ensure he would complete his stunt without further incident.

Also, Judge Teri Jackson granted Goodwin the right to testify in his trial, thus allowing him the soapbox he so desires. However, Jackson said he cannot use his cause as a defense against the charges he faces.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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