Far below earth where twin towers once stood, powerful artifacts in place at Sept. 11 Museum
by Associated Press
NEW YORK — Far below the earth where the twin towers once stood, a cavernous museum on hallowed ground is finally nearing completion.
Amid the construction machinery and the dust, powerful artifacts of death and destruction have assumed their final resting places inside the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
A vast space that travels down to the bedrock upon which the towers were built, the museum winds its way deeper and deeper underground, taking visitors on a journey to the very bottom.
Already on display are several pieces of mangled steel and metal recovered from the World Trade Center towers, each one telling a different story of the terror attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
The first relics that visitors will see are two massive pieces of structural steel that rose from the base of the North Tower. Now the rusty red columns soar above ground into the sunlit glass atrium that encloses the entrance to the museum.
“They're so large — about 70 feet tall — that we built the museum around them,” explained Joseph Daniels, president of the memorial and museum.
Down a long ramp, visitors will peer down to glimpse the last piece of steel removed from ground zero in 2002, which sits inside a gaping silvery chamber that drops to the lowest level of the museum.
Further down the ramp, visitors will discover a mangled and twisted piece of steel that Daniels calls “impact steel.” That's because this piece of the building was actually destroyed by the impact of Flight 11 slamming into the North Tower.
“You can see how, at the bottom, the columns are bent back,” Daniels said. “That's because Flight 11's nose, when it pierced the building, it bent steel like that.”
Perhaps the most chilling part of the museum, in its current form, is a battered staircase that leads down to bedrock, where the exhibits will be displayed. Sandwiched between an escalator and a staircase that will be used by museum visitors, the “survivor's stairs” provided an escape route for hundreds of people who fled from the towers on Sept. 11, 2001.
“You're literally following the same pathway that hundreds followed on 9/11 to survival, to safety,” said museum director Alice Greenwald. “In some respects, what we're saying to our visitors is, we all live in a world now that was defined by this event. And in that sense, we're all survivors of 9/11.”
There are more relics, some of them shrouded in plastic or white drapery, awaiting their public debut:
The “flag steel” shaped like a ribbon that resembled a flag blowing in the breeze. The T-shaped steel column and crossbeam that became known as the “World Trade Center cross,” a piece of the rubble that became a symbol of hope to hundreds of recovery workers.
The fire truck from Engine Company 21, whose cab was destroyed while the rest of the truck remained intact.
When completed in the spring, the museum will transport people through time from events leading to the 9/11 attacks all the way to the current events of today. And even when its doors open, the museum will always remain a work in progress.
“This is a museum, I like to say, that's not about answers,” Greenwald said. “It's a museum about questions. And we end with questions, and we then invite the public to participate in that dialogue.”
Press Conference Divides Community Leaders
by Dave Lucas
What was intended to be a press conference about a report on African Americans and community policing turned racially divisive as it morphed into a forum of heavy criticism of the Albany County District Attorney.
The Center for Law and Justice in Albany held the press conference Thursday to promote a report card on Albany Police Chief Steven Krokoff's performance over the past three years as head of the APD, but a reporter's query concerning the recent drug arrest of deputy Albany County Executive Christine Quinn tipped the mood in a very different direction. Times Union court reporter Robert Gavin:
Gavin says there were more questions; the situation became darker and darker, as Albany NAACP President Bernard Bryan went on a rant. Gavin noted that Soares did not respond to requests for comment - but Pastor Charlie Muller decided to call the press together again Friday afternoon for a conference of his own.
Bernard Bryan's caustic comments caught reporter Gavin by surprise. Bryan responded to a request for comment by email, which in part says, "I did not intend any criticism of Pastor Charlie as he and his ministries are doing an excellent job of assisting communities of color in meeting their many challenges. I was lamenting the fact that an African American official has such poor relations with folks who are from the same cultural background as he, that he needs the intervention of someone from another race in order to connect with communities of color..." Mueller accuses Bryan of using bullying tactics.
Alice Green, the executive director of the Center for Law and Justice, says the turn of events at the press conference is not what was hoped for – she affirms that community policing is an important issue and hopes people will read the report and use the information in it to promote understanding.
Chief Krokoff and DA David Soares did not respond to requests for comment.
O'Malley pledges training standards for public safety workers after death of Maryland man
by John Wagner and Theresa Vargas
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley pledged Thursday to respond to the case of a man with Down syndrome who died in the custody of Frederick County sheriff's deputies by developing statewide training standards for law enforcement officers and first responders on how to interact with people who have disabilities.
The governor made the promise during a meeting in Annapolis with the family of Robert Ethan Saylor, 26, who died in January after three off-duty deputies attempted to remove him from a theater when he tried to watch a second showing of a movie without buying another ticket.
Takirra Winfield, a spokeswoman for O'Malley, did not discuss details of the meeting but confirmed late Thursday afternoon that “in the coming days, we will announce actions aimed at improving training for law enforcement personnel and other first responders so that we can do everything we can to ensure this never happens again.”
After emerging from the meeting, Patti Saylor, the man's mother, said that she and disability advocates urged the governor to act. She said that O'Malley (D) told her he would issue an executive order establishing a commission to develop standards that would apply to interactions with people who have disabilities.
“I told him I want good training, state of the art, best practices, not something that just gets checked off,” Saylor said. “He assured me that he understood and that it would be good. I think those were his words: ‘It will be good.' ”
Saylor family members and the disability advocates who accompanied them were not successful, however, in getting O'Malley to commit to launching an independent investigation of the circumstances surrounding Ethan Saylor's death.
Relatives presented the governor with three boxes full of petitions which they said contained more than 340,000 signatures from people across the country asking O'Malley to use his powers to investigate.
The chief medical examiner's office in Baltimore ruled Saylor's death a homicide as a result of asphyxia , but a Frederick County grand jury determined in March that no charges were warranted against the deputies. The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating whether the civil rights of Saylor were violated.
Winfield said that although O'Malley is still considering a state-level investigation, “he is more focused on forward-looking strategies to protect the safety and rights of all people, including those with intellectual or developmental disabilities, and promoting a better understanding of all our neighbors.”
Patti Saylor said that although she was grateful the governor met with the family, she felt “a bit frustrated and discouraged” that an independent investigation might not happen.
She said O'Malley told her that he initially was not inclined to open another investigation but said that he would give the issue further thought. Saylor said O'Malley told her that he has not called for an investigation in other in-custody deaths during his nearly seven years in office.
“We want the details, no matter the outcome,” Saylor told reporters at a news conference outside the statehouse before her meeting with O'Malley. “There's been no accounting for what occurred.”
Both Patti Saylor and Emma Saylor, the man's sister, said they would continue pushing for a full investigation.
“We're not finished,” Patti Saylor said.
Advocates for people with disabilities say that if law enforcement personnel are not properly trained on how to deal with this population, they might misinterpret, and even escalate, a situation.
Saylor had been watching “Zero Dark Thirty” at a movie theater and, as soon as it ended, wanted to watch it again. When he refused to leave, a theater employee called three off-duty county sheriff's deputies who were working a security job at the Westview Promenade shopping center and told them that Saylor either needed to buy another ticket or be removed.
A spokeswoman for the sheriff's office has said that Saylor cursed at the deputies, who weren't wearing uniforms, and began hitting and kicking them. The deputies restrained him by using three sets of handcuffs linked together and escorted him from the theater. At some point, Saylor ended up on the ground and began showing signs of medical distress. A short time later, he was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
The case has attracted national attention and drawn scrutiny from disability advocates across the country.
A representative of Change.org, which coordinated the petition, said that about 10,000 of the 340,000 signatures came from Maryland.
Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D-Montgomery), who is running for governor next year, has been among those calling for an independent investigation. She joined the Saylor family at Thursday's news conference and accompanied the family into the statehouse.
“Ethan's death was tragic, it was avoidable, and it was a wake-up call for this entire state,” Mizeur said.
Mizeur said that if O'Malley did not come up with statewide standards for interacting with people with disabilities, she was prepared to introduce legislation with that aim.