New York Post
September 22, 2005

POLICE UNION WANTS FREEDOM CENTER BUSTED

By TOM TOPOUSIS in N.Y. and IAN BISHOP in D.C.

  Patrick Lynch
  PBA President Patrick Lynch

See also today's editorial

Police-union leaders have joined the battle to scuttle plans for the controversial International Freedom Center at Ground Zero — a site they say should be treated with the same reverence as Pearl Harbor.

"The World Trade Center is not a place for domestic or international politics," Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch wrote in a letter sent yesterday to World Trade Center Memorial Foundation Director Gretchen Dykstra.

"It is not a place for inappropriate art or entertainment and programming which trivializes or ignores the history of the site," Lynch's letter continued.

The PBA joins the city's firefighters union in opposing the center.

Relatives of 9/11 victims have blasted plans to put the center on the same site as a memorial to the 2,974 people who died, over fears it could include anti-American exhibits.

Lynch said any use of the site should be focused only on 9/11 and the lives that were lost at the World Trade Center. Among those killed were 23 city cops and 343 firefighters.

"We have active and retired members who participated in the largest rescue in this nation's history, and they want that site respected for what it is," Lynch told The Post.

"This is a call for the people of the City of New York who lived through that tragedy . . . to stand up and say no."

Meanwhile, three New York Republican congressmen opposed to the IFC are giving the project's backers until tomorrow to scrap the plan, or they'll be hauled before Congress.

"We've decided it's time for us to take a stand," said Saratoga-based Rep. John Sweeney, who joined Reps. Peter King (L.I.) and Vito Fossella (S.I.) in throwing down the gauntlet.

Still, the Freedom Center appears to be planning to try to remain at Ground Zero, it was reported today.

The center's officials had been told by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. to come up with a satisfactory report by tomorrow, or risk losing the site.

The center's chairman, Tom Bernstein, told The New York Times, "You could not put it someplace else."

The IFC's report says the center will name five new board members, including former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, the paper said.

But there was no indication it will include a pledge to ban anti-American exhibits and programs unrelated to the terror attacks.