By Suzanne Ma
CHINATOWN —Chinatown residents and business owners say they will be living under "unbearable" conditions after NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly announced plans to lock down a portion of Chinatown with metal barriers and armed guards during the trials of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other terror suspects.
Locals are furious with the Commissioner's plans, which will install snipers on rooftops, block off streets and force locals to go through police check points every day.
"It is clear that our government does not give a damn about its citizens," said Chinatown resident Jeanie Chin. "This is the beginning of the end for Chinatown as we know it."
Kelly, speaking at a New York Press Club event on Tuesday, said the security measures are necessary during the trials, which are expected to last several years.
"We are very much aware of and sensitive to … the challenges that present itself for the Chinatown community," Kelly told DNAinfo. "We simply have no other choice."
Kelly outlined plans to create a tight security zone that would heavily restrict pedestrian and vehicle traffic will be along the north side of Worth Street, Pearl Street in the East, Madison Street in the South, and West along Centre Street.
The zone would protect the federal courthouse, the state courthouse on Centre Street, the U.S. attorney's office, police headquarters, St. Andrews Church on Cardinal Hayes Place and Chatham Towers, residential co-ops on Park Row with an underground parking garage.
The city has estimated that the security measures will cost $215 million in the first year and $200 the following year.
Local politicians like District 1 Council Member Margaret Chin, former District 1 Council Member Alan Gerson and former Community Board 1 chair Julie Menin have said that the trials should be moved to another location that would be cheaper and would not put Manhattanites at risk.
Both Menin and Gerson have suggested Governors Island as an alternative.
Newly-elected District 1 Council Member Margaret Chin told DNAinfo that while Governors Island is a possible alternative, the suspects may still have to be held in a Lower Manhattan detention center.
"The issue is where are these people [the accused terrorists] going to be locked up?" Chin said. "If they're still down here, we're still involved."
Chinatown residents will be speaking out at Community Board 1's Executive Committee meeting on Wednesday starting at 6 p.m.
The meeting will be held at 250 Broadway on the 19th floor.