New York City Councilmembers Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island) and Justin Brannan (D-Brooklyn) have both said they are part of an effort in conjunction with NYC labor leaders to complete the "Tribute in Light" that had been canceled by the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.
The Museum announced late on Thursday that because of the risk of COVID-19 infection for the 40 or so workers it requires to install the lights each year, they would be canceling the display. Their announcement was met with disappointment and outrage; the Museum had already announced the cancellation of the annual reading of victim names, saying they would instead be using footage of the reading from prior years.
Most critics of the decision said the explanation of risk to the workers, who could easily wear the proper protective gear during installation, did not stack up.
"There's just no rhyme or reason here. Bad decisions like this seem completely arbitrary," Brannan said via Twitter. "At a time like this, rituals and touchstones are even more important for so many New Yorkers. If construction has resumed in New York City, how is this different?"
There's just no rhyme or reason here. Bad decisions like this seem completely arbitrary.— JustinBrannan (@JustinBrannan) August 14, 2020
At a time like this, rituals and touchstones are even more important for so many New Yorkers.
If construction has resumed in New York City, how is this different? https://t.co/7EqxyHnfTF
The councilman, who represents areas of south Brooklyn including residential neighborhoods Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights where the powerful memorial lights could easily be seen, explained later that he learned the lights were installed by an Italian company, which led him to a greater understanding of the choice.
"To be clear, this decision wasn't made by BdB or the Gov but by the 9/11 Museum. The lights are produced by an Italian co that sends a large crew to NYC every year to help with installation. This was a big part of why the Museum decided to pull the plug. I had no idea," he said.
When Townhall reached out to the Museum early on Friday, however, they did not confirm that explanation, only doubled down on the risk of infection due to people working in close proximity. They also said that the choice to cancel the memorial "underscore
Borelli called out the Museum and its boosters in a Friday morning tweet, saying it was within their power to complete the Tribute in Light as planned.
"There’s a lot of fancy names on the board of the 9/11 Museum with deep pockets, but it’s a shame they lack the creativity & will to live up to their mission. First the ceremony, now this," Borelli said. "An outdoor lighting crew can work without an elevated risk of Covid."
There’s a lot of fancy names on the board of the 9/11 Museum with deep pockets, but it’s a shame they lack the creativity & will to live up to their mission. First the ceremony, now this— Joe Borelli (@JoeBorelliNYC) August 14, 2020
An outdoor lighting crew can work without an elevated risk of Covid. https://t.co/IsQhxa9Ed9
A short time later, Borelli said he was in touch with the AFL-CIO NYC Central Labor Council and was actively working to salvage the canceled plans for the Tribute in Light and was challenging the Museum to "rethink their decision."
Update: I am coordinating with the head of the AFL-CIO NYC Central Labor Council. There are men and women who would be honored to do the work of presenting the Tribute in Lights at the World Trade Center. The @Sept11Memorial must rethink their decision. pic.twitter.com/wbTdSWJCSt— Joe Borelli (@JoeBorelliNYC) August 14, 2020
Brannan echoed Borelli's announcement and said that he, too had been working to involve the group of labor leaders to come through with willing volunteers to take the reins and get the display up and running.
To that end, me @JoeBorelliNYC & others are talking with AFL-CIO to see if we can salvage the Tribute this year as I am confident we can find the qualified local technicians, electricians and stagehands willing to help make this happen so the tradition will continue. Stay tuned!— JustinBrannan (@JustinBrannan) August 14, 2020
When reached for comment by Townhall, Borelli said they were also writing a letter to President Trump, urging him to support their cause. Borelli specifically called out the star-studded Board of Directors for the 9/11 museum, which includes actors Robert de Niro and Billy Crystal. The Chairman of the Board is former mayor, former presidential contender, and noted billionaire Michael Bloomberg
"It is too easy for the board members to sit on their hands and chalk this up as a loss," Borelli said. "There are too many New Yorkers willing to pitch in, and I will be coordinating with anyone I have to, from the White House to the labor movement, to see this through."
"We are sending a letter to POTUS for assistance," Borelli confirmed to Townhall.
Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean threw in her support for the councilmen, encouraging the museum to take them up on their offer and light the skies for the victims of 9/11.
Hi @Sept11Memorial please read this and take @JoeBorelliNYC up on his offer. The fact that you’ve also taken away the reading of the victims names is also a shame. At the very least please make an effort to get the lights up. https://t.co/N77B7QheWC— Janice Dean (@JaniceDean) August 14, 2020