Nyack, Nov 7 — The Tappan Zee Bridge was once again in the news on Monday, but for an entirely different and completely unexpected reason.
Former Rockland County Mental Health worker Michael Davitt, 54, suspended himself from the Tappan Zee Bridge for three hours on Monday displaying a sign critical of the Rockland County government. His protest — which began just before 11a — snarled traffic on the Hudson River crossing connecting Rockland and Westchester counties 20 miles North of New York City.
His banner read, “Rockland Executive Legislature Coverup Retaliation.” According to the Journal News and Patch.com, Davitt had been a fixture at Rockland County Legislature sessions to protest his 2008 firing. He had recently lost a small claims court case claiming that Rockland County Sheriff James Kralik had singled him out for harrassment.
After several hours of stand-off, police attempted to lower Davitt to the Hudson at about 2p. Before police could apprehend the Davitt, news reports say he jumped or fell into the river and began to swim away from the police. Davitt was subsequently hauled into a boat and brought to the Westchester Medical Center.
If Mr. Davitt wanted to get attention for his cause — he certainly did — but it may not have been the kind of attention he wanted to attract. The story was picked up by ABC News, CNN, the Associated Press and the Huffington Post — among other national outlets.
“The kook was tied to a van stopped on the bridge for hours,” wrote the NY Daily News.
“Davitt, admittedly, isn’t actually protesting greed and corruption the way the Wall Street occupiers are. No, he’s got a much more personal, and, it would seem, rather more crazy set of hobby-horses,” wrote Gawker.com.
“The sign says something about ROCKLAND EXECUTIVE LEGISLATURE COVER UP RETALIATION,” wrote The Gothamist. “There’s more text beneath that, but we can’t quite make it out (possibly something about the NSA’S POISONING OF TINFOIL HATS WITH MKULTRA CHEMICALS).”
Ron Levine, spokesman for Rockland County Executive Scott Vanderhoef, called Davitt’s behavior bizarre. “This is a very strange way of making a point,” said Levine.
“No word on whether he is directly connected to the Occupy New York Protest but his sign seems to point to his local legislature rather than big banks and Wall Street,” wrote AllVoices.com
Rockland County Sheriff James Kralik told WNBC-TV that his department had been keeping an eye on Davitt “to make sure he didn’t step over the line.” Although he had showed erratic behavior before, Tuesday’s antics took his protest to a whole new level. “Today he not only stepped over the line, he jumped over it,” Kralik said.
- Tappan Zee Protester Hangs for 3 Hours Before Falling into Water, NBCNewYork.com
- Protester on Tappan Zee Bridge plunges into Hudson River, Journal News
- Man Who Hung From T.Z. Bridge As A Protest Lost Small Claims Court Case Against Sheriff, Patch.com