Bridges

Ex-Government Employee Stages Protest by Jumping Off A Bridge

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The spirit of Occupy Wall Street has reached the suburbs of New York City.

Michael Davitt, a 54-year-old man apparently distraught over losing his government job three years ago as a substance abuse counselor, stopped his van on the Tappan Zee Bridge, tied a harness to the van, then jumped over the bridge's railing.

He hung from the bridge for several hours, resting on a huge banner that read in part: "ROCKLAND EXECUTIVE LEGISLATURE COVER UP RETALIATION." After hanging for nearly four hours, he was safely lowered to a rescue boat, where he was placed in custody.

From New City, NY's Patch.com:

According to the Rockland County Executive's Office, the protestor, Michael Davitt, "was separated from County service in 2008 because he was no longer able to perform his essential job functions as a Substance Abuse Counselor 1. He subsequently applied for and received a disability retirement from New York State.

County spokesman Ron Levine said county officials do not know what Davitt's problem is with the county executive or the Legislature.

"This is certainly not the way you go about getting heard," Levine said. "We're totally taken aback that he decided to do this today. He put himself at risk and put all the emergency workers at risk."

Davitt, 54, was employed by the county's Department of Mental Health in Pomona from 1991 to 2008. 

Sheriff's Department Capt. William Barbera said Davitt has been escorted off county property several times involving his one-man protests in New City. However, Barbera said those incidents did not lead to any arrests.

While there is no indication that Davitt has anything to do with the OWS movement, the audacity of his protest might owe something to the worldwide attention garnered by the Occupiers, many of whom would likely envy his government-funded "disability retirement" package.