New York City will drop most charges against protesting firefighters, and a dozen people who claimed they needed help because of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks have been charged with stealing money from the American Red Cross.
Charges to Be Dropped Against Most Protesting Firefighters
N E W Y O R K, Nov. 10 — Authorities are dropping charges against all but one of the 18 firefighters arrested after a raucous protest at the World Trade Center site, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said today. The firefighters were arrested after five police officers were injured during a Nov. 2 rally, in which firefighters protested their numbers being reduced at the site. The one case that will not be dropped involved a firefighter accused of hitting a police officer, Giuliani said at a late-afternoon City Hall press conference. That firefighter's identity was not immediately known. The other cases mostly involved criminal trespassing and harassment, the mayor said. Giuliani said he came to the decision in part after meeting with some families of firefighters killed in the disaster. "What happened at ground zero . . . is unacceptable. I am very, very hopeful it will not happen again," said Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor who said he is generally opposed to dropping charges in criminal cases. "But we want to be able to put this behind us, so we can move ahead." Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said the charges would be dismissed and would not appear on the firefighters' records. Morganthau said he made the decision "in light of the extraordinary heroism of the firefighters and police department members at ground zero, and the stress on the families, particularly on the widows and children." The charges are expected to be dropped on Tuesday; courts are closed Monday because of the Veterans Day holiday. Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who had been incensed over the scene of firefighters clashing with police officers, took a conciliatory tone on today. "We saw firefighters and police officers working side by side day and night and they have been doing so for several weeks in an attempt to either rescue or recover members of our respective departments," he said, standing alongside Giuliani, Morgenthau and Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen. "We should really work on continuing that camaraderie and working together and so I think this may be a solution to getting them back on track, relieving some of the emotional issues." Citing safety concerns, Giuliani had sought to scale back the number of firefighters working at ground zero to 25, angering rank-and-file still traumatized by the loss of 343 colleagues on Sept. 11. Many of the firefighters' bodies still have not been recovered. The number of firefighters working there was increased to 50 on Thursday. "This time, this eight weeks has really caught up to a lot of people," Von Essen said. "I'm just glad that the police and the district attorney and the mayor have agreed to at least make these go away and start trying to get this situation back to normal." Tom Butler, a spokesman for the Uniformed Firefighters Association, said the union supported the move. "We do feel the dropping of charges is the right thing to do," he said. —The Associated Press
12 N.Y. Port Workers Charged With Cheating Red Cross