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Mayor Calls Move of 9/11 Trials To Governors Island 'Dumb', Chinatown Says Current Plan 'Dumber'

By DNAinfo Staff on January 22, 2010 3:58pm  | Updated on January 22, 2010 4:15pm

Chinatown residents working on a resolution to move the 9/11 terror trials at Community Board 1's executive meeting on Jan. 20, 2010.
Chinatown residents working on a resolution to move the 9/11 terror trials at Community Board 1's executive meeting on Jan. 20, 2010.
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DNAinfo/Suzanne Ma

By Suzanne Ma

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN — Chinatown residents are firing back at Mayor Michael Bloomberg after he called the proposal to move the 9/11 trials to Governors Island "dumb."

The mayor made his comments during a meeting with newspaper publishers at Gracie Mansion on Thursday morning, according to the Downtown Express.

Outraged New Yorkers fired back on Friday.

"We wonder how [Mayor Bloomberg] or President Obama would feel if the trials were located in front of their own homes?" wrote Chinatown resident Jeanie Chin, in a statement released to the press.

"The dumbest idea is to house some of the most dangerous terrorists of the decade in the midst of Lower Manhattan’s dense residential area and in Chinatown, one of Manhattan's major tourist attractions."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
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AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams

Local politicians were also quick to respond.

In a joint statement, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, State Senator Daniel Squadron and City Councilmember Margaret Chin said Bloomberg's comment was a "callous dismissal" that proved the mayor's "lack of sensitivity and understanding for the significant toll the trial may exact on the residents and small businesses of Lower Manhattan."

“We were extremely disappointed by Mayor Bloomberg’s callous dismissal yesterday," the statement read.

"We must work with the residents and businesses of Lower Manhattan to incorporate their concerns into a plan that will not be an extreme burden on a community that is still suffering the physical, emotional and economic consequences of the September 11th attacks."

The trials, which are expected to last several years, will lock down parts of Chinatown and lower Manhattan and cut the neighborhood into security zones bordered by metal barriers and armed guards.

The tightest security zone would heavily restrict pedestrian and vehicle traffic along Worth Street in the north, Pearl Street in the east, Madison Street in the south, and west along Centre Street.

Chinatown residents living steps away from the Pearl Street courthouse say the trials will destroy local businesses and wreak havoc on their day-to-day lives.

It's estimated the security measures will cost more than $200 million each year.

NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly had briefly considered Thursday moving the upcoming terror trials to Governors Island, a day after Community Board 1 voted unanimously to oppose holding the trials in the federal courthouse on Pearl Street.

A spokesman for the mayor told DNAinfo that the NYPD had concluded that it would be impractical to hold the trials on the island.

"Governor’s Island lacks modern systems and is not equipped with the proper facilities to accommodate a trial," the spokesman said.