Return to Ground Zero

April 12, 2010 12:46:46 PM PDT
Family was in town this weekend, and when I realized that my two nieces had never been to Ground Zero, off we went, having to take the local subway because - bless the MTA - the express trains were shut down for repairs.

Which is a long way of saying the trip downtown was slow. I'm hoping they didn't mind and that they're not complaining as they head back upstate ("oh, yeah, great, Uncle Bill took us to Ground Zero!"). But I suspect they found the experience moving. Just as I did, on the umpteenth visit to the old World Trade Center site.

It's hard to not be moved. To think about all those people, trapped in the two towers, realizing there was no way out, smelling the noxious smoke, choking, in pain, and then, suddenly, lights out.

They say that Ground Zero remains a top tourist destination, but there's no question the place has changed. Giant cranes are now in place, buildings are set to be erected, and what was once a pit to be observed, is now a busy construction site. There's a 9-11 memorial office off-site, where visitors can relive through pictures and testimonials the horror of that Tuesday morning.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to not get emotional.

At one point, a tourist guide whom I knew in a different incarnation years ago came up to me and introduced me to his group. They were from Tennessee, and I couldn't help - this will not shock anyone who knows me - from saying a few words about that morning, about what once stood at the site, about the pain of the families of the victims and how, for them, it will stay in their every fiber until they die.

Never forget, is what the families say. And it's not hard to understand where they're coming from. Ironic, as well, that we visited on Holocaust Memorial Day, where the never forget theme still lives.

Another irony, perhaps, in terms of timing: We're learning details today of how Nazabullah Zazi and his pals planned to blow up several subway trains. With explosives strapped to their backs, authorities say they planned to hop on the 1, 2, 3 and 6 trains at Times Square and Grand Central, head to the middle of the pack, and let it fly. It's chilling to think about it. And I suppose a reminder of not just never forgetting what happened, but never forgetting that it could - and some say likely will - happen again.

We'll have the latest on the alleged terrorist subway plot, tonight at 11.

We're also following developments with the Mayor of White Plains, Adam Bradley. His domestic problems - involving allegations of harassment and witness tampering - are well documented and embarrassing, to say the least.

But now there are calls by his City Council for the Mayor to step down. He's scheduled to speak. Will he stay or will he go? We'll have the latest at 11.

And our investigative reporter Jim Hoffer tonight has the story of a local man, who was stopped and frisked by the NYPD, and was ticked off about it. So much so that he's now on something of a crusade. He videotapes cops stopping people - most are minorities - and frisking or searching them. Usually, with no evidence found and rarely with no crime committed.

Tonight, Jim analyzes the tape, along with an expert, to see whether the NYPD's "stop and frisk" policy is working.

Last year - a record number of stops and frisks - about 600,000, and, Jim discovers, less than 2% of the time did cops find a weapon or drugs. The stats, so alarming, that the Center for Constitutional Rights has sued New York City in federal court, claiming the stop and frisks are illegal.

Jim's fascinating story is on tonight at 11.

We're also taking a look at the terrible pollen in the air these days - fueled in part by the large amounts of snow and rain this past winter. Even people who haven't had allergy problems before are now sneezing and sniffling. Meteorologist Lee Goldberg and our reporter Lucy Yang are looking into explaining why pollen is so bad this year.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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