News / USA

New York Community Leaders Want 9/11 Trials Done Elsewhere

The residents, part of Community Board 1 in Manhattan, say the trials will bring added security concerns to the streets of downtown New York City.

Residents living in Lower Manhattan have urged the U.S. Justice Department to change its plans to bring the five accused plotters of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks to New York for trial in a civilian court.  The group believes holding the trial in their neighborhood will bring unwanted security concerns and will hurt local businesses.

Dozens of Lower Manhattan residents turned out for a Community Board meeting late Tuesday to express their concerns about the planned New York terror trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the admitted mastermind of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.  The trial would be held just blocks from where the World Trade Towers fell.

The residents, part of Community Board 1 in Manhattan, say the trials will bring added security concerns to the streets of downtown New York City.  Community Board members are appointed by the Borough President and make recommendations to government agencies about significant matters affecting the district.  Speaker after speaker blasted the decision.

"In what communities in the United States of America are children required to walk by military convoys and snipers on a daily basis on their way to school?," a resident asked.

New York City officials have estimated the cost of hold the trials in Manhattan federal court will top $200 million annually.  This will included added security throughout downtown - a clogged and busy area close to two major bridges.

The community board had originally recommended moving the trial to Governor's Island, a former military base about 700 meters from Manhattan.  But New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that was not an option.  Mayor Bloomberg, who has supported Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to hold the terror trials in downtown Manhattan, also says he would be amenable to moving them.

"It may very well be that there are other places that a trial could be held - a civil trial - if that's what the federal government wants to do," he said.  "In New York state, if that's where they want to hold it."

The Community Board resolution has some other suggestions for trial locations:  The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, a federal courthouse in nearby White Plains, and Stewart Air National Guard Base about 100 kilometers north of New York and a federal institution in Otisville in the northern part of New York State.

The resolution also asks Attorney General Holder to meet with the Community Board to discuss the options and residents' concerns.

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