9/11 families denounce Giuliani - Hizzoner isn’t presidential timber, they declare during Bklyn appearance .
Inside the Bay Ridge Manor, smiling supporters may have been toasting former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani with a bit of the bubbly and nibbling on slices of birthday cake. But, it was a vastly different scene outside. Penned beyond metal barricades, across the street from the catering hall, which is located at 476 76th Street, protesters holding signs were making it crystal clear that they had little truck with “hizzoner,” who currently is running for the Republican presidential nomination and whose fundraiser was in full swing beyond the building’s brick façade. Their purpose in protesting was directly tied to Giuliani’s presidential aspirations. As he tries to make his way to the White House, he is attempting to capitalize on his image as the hero of 9/11.
That, the protesters say, is a distinct mischaracterization. They contend that Giuliani’s role in 9/11 was not heroic. Rather, they assert, he was not prepared for the disaster, and actually ran away from the scene of the devastation.
“We’re here because we hold Giuliani responsible for some of the events that happened that day,” said protester Daniel Khasin. Andrew Ansbro, a firefighter with Engine 58 in Harlem, said he came to the protest because, “Rudy Giuliani is running for president on a 9/11 record that’s an entire lie.
Everything he had a hand in that day went wrong. Ask yourself what he did right, that day, and you’ll come up with nothing.” Ansbro, whose literal baptism by fire as a firefighter was at the World Trade Center, delivered a searing indictment of Giuliani. He said that Giuliani had let down both city residents and emergency workers because he, “Failed to enact any of the recommendations after the 1993 bombing (of the World Trade Center).
“He pretended he was a leader on 9/11 and he ran, and then failed to provide the workers (at Ground Zero) with adequate protection from respiratory disease,” Ansbro charged. ”If he’s so prepared for terrorism, how come it took him a week to get basic respirators for the people that down there?
And there was no enforcement on wearing them whatsoever.” Sally Regenhart, whose firefighter son died at the World Trade Center, contended that one of the reasons so many firefighters died on 9/11 was the inadequacy of the radios they carried – a situation for which she blamed Giuliani. “He was a probie, just like so many of the families here today,” Regenhart recalled. “He died because of the failures of the Giuliani administration – numerous failures but the most glaring one that contributed to his death was no radios. The radios they was given, he had no idea that they didn’t work.
He had no idea that they were the same ones that didn’t work in 1993. He had no idea that he couldn’t communicate with anyone in the World Trade Center.” Jimmy Riches, whose firefighter son also died on 9/11, concurred. After new radios ordered but never properly tested turned out not to work, the FDNY, he said, “Had to go back to the radios they had before.” As a result, Riches went on, when the orders were given to evacuate the north tower, a full hour before it went down, “They didn’t hear them because the radios didn’t work. One hundred and twenty one firefighters in the north tower died that day.
Giuliani now says he was a hero. But, all he did was run, that day.” Ansbro, too, said he got no advance warning to make his escape. He remembers getting out of the Marriott Hotel just before one of the twin towers collapsed upon it. “I was one of the few firefighters to make it out of the Marriott Hotel before the south tower landed on it and killed most of the people inside,” he recalled.
“The cops had a five-minute head start. They received word that the south tower was going to come down and none of us did. I was looking up. The first warning I got was when the sky turned black. Five seconds later, the room exploded.” Norman Siegel, an attorney representing the 9/11 firefighters and families, and the former director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, was also at the protest -- to make sure those who wanted to were able to make their voices heard, he said, and also because of his concerns that Giuliani, should he become president, would negatively impact civil liberties.
“I think they (the protesters) have a First Amendment right to protest,” explained Siegel. “The police, in my opinion, curtailed their right by putting them across the street. Perhaps, if I weren’t here, they may have put them down the block. “I support the premise that Rudy Giuliani should not be president of the United States,” Siegel went on. “We love America, and we need to inform our fellow Americans about the truth of Rudy Giuliani when he was mayor of New York City.
“In addition to challenging the premise that he was a great American hero, because of what he did on 9/11 and post-9/11, when Giuliani was mayor he was an authoritarian and repressive figure trampling on people’s right to dissent and protest,” Siegel contended. “I’m troubled by what could happen if he becomes president of the United States, with regard to civil rights and civil liberties.”