Getty Images/Spencer Platt
Rick Lazio speaks after being endorsed for governor of the state of New York by former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani during a news conference December 22, 2009 in New York.
Republican Gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio hasn’t been shy about his opposition to the proposed Islamic Center and mosque near Ground Zero. Lazio has been the most vocal of the current slate of candidates in expressing any opinion about the project.
But Lazio’s latest ad about the proposed mosque and Islamic cultural center is ruffling some feathers with New York's first responders.
Lazio recently released a two-minute video that is a collage of various opinions from people filmed near Ground Zero. The video also features images taken on September 11, 2001, depicting firefighters running into the debris of the former World Trade Center Towers.
The Uniformed Fire Officers Association and the NYPD's Sergeants Benevolent Association have sent Lazio’s letters denouncing the use of the 9/11 footage.
“We have always been opposed to the use of images from the attack on the World Trade Center in political advertising. Virtually every candidate for public office has honored that sentiment to date. So it was with a mix of surprise and disappointment to see your new video that seeks to capture the attention of the viewer with graphic images of Ground Zero that day,” read a letter to Lazio signed by UFOA President Alexander Hagan.
Hagan has asked Lazio to take down the video immediately.
“For someone whose argument against the mosque is that it is insensitive to those who lost loved ones on that day, it is unconscionable that he would display similar insensitivity by evoking these painful memories for his own political purposes,” wrote Sergeant’s Benevolent Association President Edward Mullins in a separate letter to Lazio.
Mullins also expressed his displeasure at Lazio’s actions saying that the candidate’s actions are, “as irresponsible as they are reprehensible.”
The SBA president also made a note that he hoped that Lazio did the right thing and apologize for his use of the footage.
“It is both outrageous and offensive that Rick Lazio has chosen to exploit the tragedy of 9/11 by using graphic images from that day in his campaign,” added Mullins.
In a statement, Lazio spokesman David James said, “9/11 is a painful memory for all New Yorkers, especially for the first responders and families who lost loved ones, which is precisely why this Mosque should not be built in this location. Had Andrew Cuomo done his job on July 7th when Rick Lazio stood with victims’ family groups and called on the Attorney General to lift the curtain on who was backing the Cordoba Mosque, we may have avoided this divisive debate."
You can see the video below -- warning: some of the images may be disturbing.