Friday, September 14, 2007

Man Confronts Giuliani at Ground Zero Ceremony

Several witnesses at the ceremony to mark the sixth anniversary of 9/11 described a confrontation between a man and former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, whose attendance at the event stirred debate.

Sara Kugler of The Associated Press was covering the ceremony from the news media’s pool position at ground zero, which was at the top of the ramp that leads down into the seven-story pit at the World Trade Center site, and filed a pool report.

At the top of the ramp there were buckets of roses, all different colors, that families and others picked up as they walked by. At the foot of the ramp was a circular pool of about 20 feet in diameter, filled with about six inches of water. Inside that circular pool were two square pools — about six feet by six feet each — representing the two footprints of the towers.

An honor guard from the city’s Fire and Police Departments and the Port Authority police surrounded the circle. Family members walked down the ramp, around the circle, then back up. Many laid their flowers in the water, and some lingered to stop, pray and touch the ground.
Though details are sketchy, the pool report states:

After the ceremony had concluded, Giuliani walked over from the park to the ramp entrance, which was on Liberty Street. He walked slowly down the ramp, with his wife holding his arm. The rain had subsided for the moment, and they were not holding umbrellas overhead. The families around him did not seem to be taking much notice that they were walking with the former mayor.

Our pool position at the top of the ramp did not have a good view of the bottom, so it was not possible to see what he did down in the pit. He spent about 10 minutes among the crowd there, before slowly walking back up, his wife at his side. A few times along the way up, he stopped to shake hands with people in the line that was going down.

Mr. Giuliani declined several requests by reporters for comment, saying it was not the right time. As he was walking away, a young man and a woman from the line of family members began yelling and pushing and trying to get near him. Later, they said that security officers had kept them away from the former mayor.

As Mr. Giuliani walked away from the site, the young man yelled, “How could you walk away like that?” and “Scum! Scum!” He said later he was not a victims’ relative. He was also holding a video camera.

The woman with that man, Sabrina Rivera, said she was there mourning her ex-boyfriend’s father, Lt. Robert F. Wallace of the Fire Department.

“Because of Giuliani we never had closure,” Ms. Rivera said. “We never had closure because as soon as 9/11 happened he had all the remains shipped to Staten Island, in the dump, in the landfill. And we never had closure because of him.”

After the outburst, Ms. Rivera and the man who yelled at Mr. Giuliani were asked to keep walking and to leave the area.

The presence of Mr. Giuliani, who is running for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, had stirred debate from those not wanting to politicize these ceremonies, although the former mayor has attended 9/11 commemorations in Lower Manhattan all six years.

Update: Ms. Rivera was evidently the subject of a WNBC report in May after she and several other activists accosted Mr. Giuliani outside a fund-raiser in the Bronx. WNBC posted a video of the incident.


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