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Anti-abortion protester arrested after climbing Arizona's tallest building

The protester, known online as Pro-life Spiderman, was seen climbing the building early Tuesday morning.

PHOENIX — An anti-abortion protestor is in police custody after climbing the outer south side of the former Chase Tower in downtown Phoenix.

Maison DesChamps, known on social media as Pro-life Spiderman, said in a live stream that the climb was to raise money.

Authorities said that the call came in around 9:45 a.m., and rescue crews were on the scene minutes later. Technical rescue teams were staged on the roof and around the ground floor of the building.

"On the other side of this channel is a stairwell of ventilation. So we had crews going up every single floor constantly communicating with this individual, ask him how he's doing and what his plan is," Phoenix Fire Department Captain Todd Keller said. 

Video of the scene shows DesChamps climbing a three-foot-wide external ventilation shaft as he made his way to the top where law enforcement and technical rescue crews were waiting. 

As DesChamps crested the top of the building, he was quickly taken into custody. Officials said the climb took roughly an hour.

Authorities on scene said that their priority was to make sure DesChamps was taken down from the tower safely, and strongly condemned the stunt.

"This is not the place or the time to do this," said Keller. "This is extremely dangerous."

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Former Chase Tower building

The 40-story former Chase Tower is the tallest building in Arizona. Authorities said that there was no way to stage a catch operation at the bottom, and rescue crews would have had to rappel down the side of the building to reach DesChamps.

The building is currently empty, having gone to foreclosure in 2018. In 2021, Chase moved its employees to an office campus in Tempe.

DesChamps, 23, live streamed parts of the climb to his Instagram page.

Credit: Maison DesChamps
DesChamps has been livestreaming the climb.

'Pro-Life Spiderman'

This isn't the first time DesChamps has pulled a stunt like this.  He calls himself Pro-Life Spiderman on social media and appears to live stream or record all of his climbs.

In 2021, he posted as he climbed the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas during a protest for Nevada's COVID-19 restrictions.

And in 2022, he posted that he climbed the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, The New York Times Building, the Renaissance Center in Detroit, the Devon Tower in Oklahoma City and the Ritz Carlton in Los Angeles - all for his pro-life cause.

In most of those cases, local and national media reports say he was arrested for some form of trespassing but was ultimately released.

On his website, DesChamps himself claims his climbs aren’t illegal, despite his numerous arrests.

Climbing concrete

But climbing concrete comes with a lot of gray area according to Mark Mendoza, a law partner and criminal defense attorney with MayesTelles in Phoenix.

"There’s not something that really addresses this specific issue or specific conduct," Mendoza said.

After he reached the top of the former Chase Tower in Phoenix, DesChamps was taken into custody – and police said he’d be booked in jail on trespassing and criminal nuisance charges.

"We're talking about an individual scaling up the side, the outside of the building so there really is a question about does the trespassing law really fit this set of circumstances or not because it’s unique and something we’ve never really seen before," Mendoza said.

Not to mention, the public safety scare an attempt like this can cause.

"Don't do it. This is a stupid stupid move," Keller added, stressing that if anything went wrong, it could have been fatal.

'Let Them Live'

 The organization DesChamps claims he’s helping, Let Them Live, is a registered nonprofit according to tax records from 2019 and 2020, although it’s not clear exactly how their money is used or where it goes.

The founder told 12News their organization pays directly to women in need in an effort to prevent abortion procedures.

"Today, he's climbing for a mom named Hope. Who is 22 weeks pregnant and has an abortion scheduled for Friday," Emily Berning, the President and Co-Founder of Let Them Live said. "We're just trying to basically show her what we can do for her and how we can help her and then hope that she, you know, cancels her abortion." 

Despite the danger of the climb up 40 stories, supporters believe he's drawing attention to a larger issue. 

"A lot of people are afraid because he's risking his life. But like, think about it this way. There's millions of babies like Ayla, for example, who are being aborted every single day," Berning said.

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