Dan Goodwin, also known as "SpiderDan," used suction cups to climb up the side of the Millennium Tower in the city's South of Market neighborhood.
Goodwin was arrested after reaching a 59th floor balcony on top of the building. He was charged with being a public nuisance, trespassing, and delaying or obstructing arrest, and has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Goodwin said he climbed the tower to draw attention to the vulnerability of skyscrapers to major emergencies and terrorist attacks.
During a break in his San Francisco Superior Court trial today, Goodwin told reporters he is "fighting the charges but at the same time making a statement."
His attorney, Herman Holland, pointed out during the trial that firefighters trying to access the locked door to the roof of the Millennium Tower were delayed because they needed the building's security manager to provide bolt cutters, and the fire department's tallest ladder only reached the seventh or eighth floor.
Holland said skyscrapers are "a reflection of the boundless nature of human innovation," but emergency response technology has yet to catch up. Prosecutor Michael Maffei said that regardless of the substance of Goodwin's message, his method of publicizing it was illegal.
"As citizens we have a fundamental right to protest, but with those rights come responsibility," Maffei said in a nod to a well-known quote from the "Spiderman" comics.
The trial continued this afternoon with statements from witnesses at the building that day, including emergency responders.