'They're Making It a Tourist Attraction': Families Protest Plan to Move 9/11 Remains
Some relatives of 9/11 victims are protesting New York City plans to move the unidentified remains of those killed to a underground repository at the memorial museum.
Retired Deputy Fire Chief Jim Riches’ son, Jimmy, was a firefighter who died on September 11. He believes the remains should be entombed at the Memorial Plaza, not the National September 11 Memorial Museum.
This morning on America’s Newsroom, Riches sat down with Bill Hemmer to explain why he’s protesting the decision.
“It’s a non-profit organization running it, not a government organization, and these people are making huge salaries,” Riches said. “They’re going to charge $24 dollars to get in to the museum for people that are not family. So my son’s friends are going to have to pay $24 dollars to go in to a museum – a revenue-generating, tourist attraction is what they’re making it … with human remains in the basement.”
Riches was the deputy chief leading the search and recovery after the 9/11 terror attack. He said they picked up 21,000 body parts – 8,000 are still unidentified and over 1,000 families have never recovered anything.
“This is their cemetery. Cemeteries don’t charge money to get into, and their friends shouldn’t have to pay to get in to pay their respects,” Riches said.
He said in 2009, he and others met with museum experts and asked that next of kin be polled about where they would like the remains to be kept. Riches said that recommendation was ignored.
The families protesting have contacted President Obama, Governors Chris Christie (R-NJ) and Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“We need a politician who has some guts, who’s going to stand up and say let the families voices be heard,” Riches charged.
He pointed out that after Hurricane Sandy, the underground museum was flooded. Museum officials say they have consulted with families, but Riches said all 2,700 families should be polled. If they vote to keep the remains underground then so be it, Riches said, adding that he wants every family to have a say.
Riches said, “We want the museum to do well. We want it to tell the story, but we want everybody to see it. Not just the rich, we want the poor, all America, all the world to see the museum.”