Not in My Neighborhood! Lower Manhattan Residents Fuming Over Terror Trial

By Pei-Sze Cheng
|  Wednesday, Jan 20, 2010  |  Updated 11:30 PM EDT
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Residents Want 9/11 Trials Moved to Governor's Island

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5. Feds rule 9/11 trials will be held in NYC. Insult to Injury: In November, after 8 years of waiting by the American public, Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama Administration annoucned the decision to try the 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-conspirators in Manhattan federal court, bringing out criticism from all sides.

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Residents in Lower Manhattan, so outraged by the Obama administration’s decision to try five of the highest profile accused terrorists in their neighborhood, are fighting back.

“If President Obama thinks it’s such a good idea, then he should have the terror trial near his family, not mine,” said Howard Levy, a resident of Lower Manhattan.  “We’ve already had enough on 9-11.”

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has said the trial would raise the threat level of the city and would cost the city upwards of 200 million dollars a year to secure.  Residents are not comfortable with the idea that the terror trial could make their neighborhood a target.  In the immediate vicinity of the federal courthouse, there are high rise apartments and a children’s playground.

“It only takes a lapse in human judgment to jeopardize our lives,” said Lower Manhattan resident Georgia Tom.
 
A subcommittee of Community Board 1 voted for a resolution to draft a letter to President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, urging them to move the terror trial half a mile away from the tip of Manhattan to Governor’s Island.

“I think it’s a far superior site,” said Community Board 1 chairwoman Julie Menin.  “It would cost significantly less. There are no residents, there are few office workers.  There’s no subway there's no train.  So you have a very different situation than housing it in the fourth largest commercial business district in the country."

Residents argue the trial of accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other accused terrorists will also destroy the local economy.  Heightened security could lead to blocked roads and that could hurt traffic flow and business.

Longtime Chinatown resident Jan Lee said, “"Its businesses will be lost, insurance rates will cause people to flee their apartments and for those who have no choice but to stay, their quality of life will be greatly diminished.”

One resident Jeanie Chan pleaded with the community board, “Please do not throw Chinatown under the terror trial's truck.  We deserve to feel safe and secure as well.” 

The committee’s resolution must be approved by the full board.  They are scheduled to vote on this next Tuesday.
 

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