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Schumer Wants Tougher Bridge Trespassing Laws

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Sen. Charles Schumer wants a federal law to prohibit trespassing on high-profile structures after incidents involving people who scaled the Brooklyn Bridge and World Trade Center.

Schumer said Monday that his proposal would make trespassing on critical infrastructure like major bridges or important buildings punishable by up to five years in prison.

The law also could apply to such structures as the Statue of Liberty and the Indian Point nuclear power plant.

A Russian tourist was arrested last summer after climbing the Brooklyn Bridge.

Yaroslav Kolchin was seen walking back and forth on the landing, taking photos with his iPhone, police said. They said once a police aviation unit was hovering at an altitude next to the tower, Kolchin began to descend safely down the same way he had climbed up.

Yaroslav Kolchin brooklyn bridge climb
Yaroslav Kolchin climbed the Brooklyn Bridge on Aug. 24, 2014 (Credit: CBS 2)

He was met by police at the security gate, where he was taken into custody without further incident.

In September, Kolchin appeared in court where a prosecutor offered him a deal that involved 90 days in jail. But a judge did not like the idea of jail time and ordered the prosecutor to come up with a community service penalty.

Earlier in the summer, German artists claimed responsibility after the American flags atop the bridge were replaced with white ones.

Mysterious White Flags On Brooklyn Bridge
Emergency services officers remove a mysterious white flag from the Brooklyn Bridge on July 22, 2014. (credit: CBS 2)

Berlin-based Mischa Leinkauf and Mattias Wermke said they replaced the flags on top of the bridge with bleached-out versions as a tribute to public art.

The New York City Department of Transportation has since installed new barriers on the Brooklyn Bridge to prevent anyone from climbing to the top of the span.

In August, an activist group unfurled a Palestinian flag on the span of the Manhattan Bridge.

Manhattan Bridge Palestinian Flag
This Palestinian flag was unfurled on the span of the Manhattan Bridge during a protest march on Wednesday, Aug. 20. (Credit: L. Mazzei)

In another incident this spring, a teen climbed the World Trade Center's tower.

Justin Casquejo was sentenced to 23 days of service last month, a penalty set in a plea agreement this summer. He already completed the service – plus six extra days – and two sessions of youth counseling.

The 16-year-old admitted in July to breaking a city misdemeanor law against scaling tall buildings without permission.

About a week after his trade center climb, three extreme-skydiving fans were arrested in March for a leap off the tower last year.

Schumer said such actions can be dangerous to the perpetrators and for commuters and emergency crews who respond to the incidents.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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