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Anti-abortion activist arrested after climbing Arizona's 40-story Chase Tower to raise money

Detained by Phoenix PD after climbing to the top of the now vacant Chase building, "Pro-Life Spider-Man" draws more public safety concern ahead of Super Bowl weekend

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Maison DesChamps, also known as "Pro-Life Spider-Man," reaching the top of the 40-story Chase Tower, where two people are waiting for him in downtown Phoenix on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.

An anti-abortion activist was taken into custody by the Phoenix Police Department Tuesday morning after scaling the now vacant 40-story, 483-foot Chase Tower in downtown Phoenix, just a few blocks away from ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus. He faces criminal trespassing and nuisance charges. 

The 23-year-old man, Maison DesChamps, also known as "Pro-Life Spider-Man," free-climbed the tower around 9:45 a.m. bringing awareness for an anti-abortion charity that raises money for its efforts to persuade people not to have an abortion. 

This isn't the first time DesChamps climbed a building on behalf of an anti-abortion organization — he's scaled buildings in New York City, Oklahoma City, San Francisco and other major cities. 

On social media, before his identity and cause were later reported, people joked that Philadelphia Eagles fans, known for climbing poles after a win, had finally arrived in Phoenix ahead of the team's Super Bowl appearance on Sunday

In a press conference after the climb, Phoenix Fire Department Captain Todd Keller said DesChamps made it to the top of the three-foot wide channel on the tower where he was immediately detained. DesChamps is a junior studying finance at UNLV.

According to DesChamps' website, all funds raised from the climb raising awareness for the organization Let Them Live will go toward a woman named Hope, who the site says is 22 weeks pregnant and scheduled for a late-term abortion on Feb. 10. 

Hope isn't listed as a current recipient of fundraising on the Let Them Live website. The first woman on the site the charity is raising money for is named Lisa, who the site says is a young mother of five and is scheduled for an abortion on Feb. 11.

As of Tuesday, the organization had raised just over $6,000 for Lisa, with a goal of $25,000 to go toward housing, transportation, pregnancy and job counseling, past-due rent and more. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, parents can expect to spend approximately $292,000 raising a child from birth to 17 — or between $15,438 and $17,375 per year. 

Keller said the department's priority was to ensure DesChamps was safely removed from the scene. By the time crews had arrived, DesChamps had already climbed to the 15th floor. 

"We were constantly communicating with this individual the whole time," Keller said. "... Every floor he went up, we're asking how he's doing, how he's feeling."

Keller urged the public not to do similar risky publicity stunts for safety reasons. He said there are plenty of places in and around Phoenix where residents and visitors can free climb — a variety of climbing that uses no ropes or harnesses. 

"Don't do it," Keller said. "... You put not only yourself, but you put firefighters in danger, and anybody else below or anybody around this incident."

If DesChamps needed rescue help, Keller said his crew would have had to rappel down from the top of the building because a vent shaft separated the firefighters inside Chase Tower from DesChamps. 

Kristin Turner, executive director of Pro-Life San Francisco, met DesChamps after he climbed the city's highest skyscraper, which was over 1,000 feet tall. According to Turner, a prayer vigil was held Tuesday moments before DesChamps' ascent. She was one of a few speakers attending the rally on behalf of DesChamps.

Turner, along with approximately a dozen other anti-abortion activists were cheering on DesChamps from the bottom of the building. "Thank you for doing this," one activist screamed into a megaphone, as another strummed on a guitar.

Mary Ryan, a Let Them Live supporter and anti-abortion activist was also at the rally in support of the "Pro-Life Spider-Man."

"He's literally climbing for life," Ryan said. "He's willing to do something radical so that that child can live and know how important they are."

Editor's note: This is a developing story and may be updated. 

Edited by Piper Hansen and Greta Forslund.

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Angelina SteelExecutive Editor

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Alexis Heichman leads the Multimedia Department of the State Press. She is a student studying at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU.

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