By Caitlin Nolan and Tom Liddy
MANHATTAN — A Canadian man spent hours perched above Occupy Wall Street's Zuccotti Park camp Saturday morning in the statue demonstrators have come to call "the red thing," according to witnesses and officials.
The man, who sources said was Dylan Spoelstra, 24, climbed "Joie de Vivre," a 70-foot-tall sculpture at the Lower Manhattan encampment, near the World Trade Center, around 6 a.m. for reasons that were not immediately known, witnesses said.
Spoelstra could be seen laying down on the structure — which has been used as a meeting site for the group — and climbing and writing on it as tourists and demonstrators alike gawked at the spectacle.
At one point, witnesses said, he called for Mayor Michael Bloomberg to resign as well as for some cops who were stationed at the park to be removed.
Rescuers set up air bags under the sculpture in case Spoelstra fell. Cops tried to talk to him from the ground, but eventually they sent one of the officers up in a cherry picker to get him.
Spoelstra, whose affiliation, if any, with Occupy Wall Street was not clear, could be seen high-fiving the officer as they talked and laughed. At one point he retreated back into an inner portion of the structure, but soon emerged and surrendered, putting his arm around the cop just before 9:15 a.m.
He was put in an ambulance and taken to Bellevue Hospital for psychiatric evaluation, police sources said.
The move roiled many of the protesters, who had been hosting their families for a sleepover at the park.
“It was a reckless spectacle and taking away from the protest," said demonstrator Tim Barker, of Iowa. "Kids are here and that’s traumatizing to them."
"The red thing was used for public speaking and was an easy place to meet and now that’s gone," he added, noting the barricades that were erected around the structure in the wake of the incident.
Another protester, Mike Perry, 64, of West Virginia, agreed.
"This protest is made of intelligent people and it does no good to be irresponsible," he said.
Some protesters said that Spoelstra had only come to the park in recent days.
Victor Sheely, a paralegal, said that he told Spoelstra, who he met at a recent poetry reading, to get legal counsel.
“This is a silly thing that he did," Sheely said. “I apologize to the officers for this.”
Justin Lecea, 26, of Michigan, said that Spoelstra had been saying earlier in the day that he wanted to climb the sculpture.
“He was telling people he was going to do it and no one thought he was," he said.
“He tried climbing up the thing a day or two ago and no one noticed.”
While Spoelstra was not placed under arrest or issued summonses for the incident, sources said he claimed to investigators that he had received a summons for public urination earlier in the day. Cops were trying to verify if that was the case.
A woman who answered the phone at Spoelstra's home declined comment.
Mark di Suvero's "Joie de Vivre" was donated to the city by Agnes Gund, the president of the Museum of Modern Art, according to the plaza's owner, Brookfield Properties.
The sculpture, which originally stood at the exit for the Holland Tunnel, has been on display in Paris, at the Esplanade des Invalides and at the Storm King Center in upstate New York.
It was placed in its current location during an $8 million renovation of Zuccotti Park in 2006.