By Kimberly Peterson and Greg D'Avis
Arizona Daily Wildcat
A 22-year-old man climbed to the top of the Student Union's clock tower yesterday, promising to come down when the UA backs out of the Mount Graham telescope project.
But University of Arizona administrators said his actions will not halt development on the project.
Abel Duffy, a student at Western New Mexico University in Silver City, N.M., scaled the tower at around 3 a.m.
He then hung banners from the building saying "University of Extinction" and "No Scopes."
And Duffy, a member of the Southwest Student Environmental Action Coalition, said he is prepared to stay atop the tower for about two weeks.
"I'm doing this to get my message out about Mount Graham," Duffy said.
Still, Michael Cusanovich, UA research vice president, did not express any concern over the move.
"Nothing is going to happen as far as I'm concerned," Cusanovich said. "We expect that people will do this from time to time."
The UA Police Department first received the report about Duffy around 8 a.m., said UAPD Sgt. Brian Seastone.
The police and fire departments then tried to negotiate with Duffy.
"They said if I came down (at first), they wouldn't arrest me," Duffy said. "But I declined. I'll stay until I feel like I've accomplished what I came to do."
Duffy said he is ready to face arrest on charges of trespassing when he does come down.
"Jail doesn't scare me," he said.
Duffy was previously arrested on Sept.18 for obstructing a roadway in a protest near the Mount Graham International
Fellow local SEAC members set up a booth on the Mall yesterday, posting a sign that said "We love you Abel."
Still, not all students were sympathetic to Duffy's
"It's stupid," said Kirk Thomsen, a sophomore pre-med major. "He's just going to get arrested. One square of land on top of a mountain isn't going to make a difference."
Duffy's friends said they had no idea he would do this.
"I rode up with Abel from New Mexico, and he didn't say anything about doing this," said Chad Richins of Safford.
Duffy arrived in Tucson from New Mexico about two days ago, Richins said.
"I have no idea what goes on in my brother's head," said Ann Duffy, Abel's sister. "He's not very structured. He just does what interests him."
UAPD had not taken any direct action against Duffy by yesterday evening, but did place barricades on the ground surrounding the tower.
"Before any action is taken, we want to ensure that the gentleman's safety is ensured," Seastone said.
As temperatures dropped, Duffy put on heavier clothes.
The UA will continue to keep Duffy under 24-hour watch, said Steve Holland, director of risk management and safety.
"I think now the decision is to give him the opportunity to come down whenever he's ready," Holland said.
SEAC member David Hodges climbed the tower in April 1991 in a similar protest.
Hodges stayed atop the tower for 38 hours.
"It was a hell of a lot hotter then," Hodges said. "[Duffy] should be able to stay up there for a long time."
If Duffy does get arrested, SEAC will do everything possible to get him out of jail, said Anne Carl, an environmental education graduate student.
"He's one of the most down-to-earth, genuine people," Carl said. "If they touch a hair on his head, I won't be so non-violent anymore."
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