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Environmental protesters arrested after rappelling from building

Source:  Copyright 2003, Associated Press
Date:  February 20, 2003
Byline:  ELIZABETH LeSURE, Associated Press Writer
Original URL: Status DEAD


NEW YORK -- Two environmental protesters dangled from a rooftop 10 stories above Lexington Avenue on Thursday and unfurled a banner before authorities pulled them up and took them into custody.

Hilary Hosta, 32, and Tim Keating, 42, both professional climbers volunteering for the Rainforest Action Network, rappelled from the roof of the YWCA building across from Citigroup's headquarters at about 11:30 a.m.

The charges were not immediately determined, but Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said criminal trespassing was an option.

The demonstration caused a brief traffic jam during lunch hour in midtown Manhattan, as authorities cordoned off the block and dozens of police officers and firefighters responded.

Hosta and Keating displayed their banner _ which read "Forest Destruction and Global Warming? We're banking on it! Citi: Ethically Bankrupt" _ for several minutes before it was pulled into a window.

Police lowered safety lines to a reluctant Hosta and Keating and hoisted them to the roof while a small crowd looked on.

"It's a peaceful protest, nonviolent civil disobedience in the tradition of Ghandi and Martin Luther King," said group spokeswoman Ilyse Hogue.

In its literature, the group accuses Citigroup of investing in logging, mining and oil exploration projects without "meaningful environmental standards of any kind."

Citigroup spokeswoman Christina Pretto said the company works with clients to "review carefully the environmental and social aspects of the projects and investments on which we advise and provide financing assistance."

Police said five protesters were arrested. The other three were support people who had been on the roof with Keating and Hosta, Hogue said.

A woman who answered the phone at the YWCA declined to give her name but said the group did not have permission for the demonstration. Hogue said the protesters had paid for day passes to the YWCA.

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