This is an excellent video of three BASE jumpers who sneaked into the Freedom Tower (the asymmetrical architectural abortion that is replacing the Twin Towers at the glacial pace of Bloomberg-era NYC) and parachuted off September 30th. We’ve cued up the video to two minutes in, so you’ll miss most of the nerving-up phase and only see the last half minute and the actual jumps.
The jumps were seen by Port Authority brass as deeply insulting, but Port Authority police, who failed to secure the site — the jumpers came through a hole in the fence that had been plugged for weeks by a loose canvas tarp — didn’t have the investigative ability to determine who the jumpers were. The case was assigned to the NYPD, and New York police and prosecutors dropped dozens of violent-crime investigations cold in a Javertesque quest to nail the jumpers.
In the end, pervasive surveillance and unlimited police manpower bagged the jumpers, when the identity of every car moving in the area that night was investigated, uncovering the jumpers’ pick-up ride.
Once the three jumpers and their lookout arrested this week and charged with multiple felonies each, two of them posted videos. Here’s the second one, which is only 43 second long and just shows the jump (we think it’s the first jumper, chronologically, but we’re not sure).
The videos are fascinating, and we watched them over and over. You can hear the signals of apprehension, or at least heightened awareness, in the respiration and voice pitch of the jumpers. One jumper seems to open while facing towards the building, but quickly turns away. As you can imagine, an opening while your canopy is aimed towards a building (or cliff face) is a Very Bad Thing in BASE jumping, and often figures in reports of fatalities. (BASE jumping is arguably the most deadly of all sports).
These young men had a great deal of nerve to do this thing, and they don’t deserve to go to prison or be branded felons for it. Just as no one in Port Authority security was held responsible or suffered a career setback for the 1993 or 9/11 attacks, and the PA cop who was dozing when a youth slipped past and explored the building recently wasn’t held accountable, it’s a safe bet that no one will be held accountable for the lax security that let the harmless jumpers into the site last September.
And no one will be held accountable for the next security breach that the sleeping PA Police permit. And absolutely no one will be held accountable for the murders, rapes and robberies to be committed by those felons the NYPD wasn’t seeking while they were committing all resources to breaking the Case of the Three Jumpers.