Thursday, May 05, 2011

The President Comes To NYC To Commemorate Bin Laden's Death

President Barack Obama will be in New York City to make his way to Ground Zero to commemorate the death of Osama bin Laden nearly 10 years after the deadly 9/11 attacks. Walking through the gauntlet around Ground Zero this morning, I noticed something unusual, which was that there were a whole lot fewer people than usual milling about and winding their way through the streets to get to work. I guess quite a few people who normally work in the area are staying home (working from home) rather than deal with the President's visit and all the security cordons/frozen zones it brings). Lots of security present around Ground Zero, particularly along Vesey by the PATH.

Media outlets have been pushed back on Church to Barclay, which makes a whole lot of sense from a crowd control standpoint, but if you're over there - there isn't much point to actually being at a live remote. You aren't able to use Ground Zero as a backdrop, especially when they're on the wrong side of the street to have any chance of a view.

The best views aren't actually along Church, but at the World Financial Center, which is where Fox5 was filming this morning for their morning live show. One other vantage point would be the plaza in front of 7WTC or the park on the south side of Ground Zero near Liberty.

Other networks in NYC were simply reporting from their usual locations. That will probably change once the President is in town and starts making his rounds - first to the Broadway firehouse, then to NYPD Precinct 1, and then to Ground Zero to meet with families and to lay wreaths at the memorial.

Reports indicate that Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Senators Kristen Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Bloomberg, George Pataki, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (who was a New York Senator at the time of the attacks) will all be in attendance. That necessarily requires a heightened police presence.

If you're in the NYC metro area today and plan on using PATH to/from WTC, prepare for delays and a suspension of service from about noon onwards. Service is to be suspended for about an hour when the President is in/near Ground Zero, and will resume thereafter. Also expect bus service along Church and Broadway to come to a halt along with other frozen zones around the city as the President moves around Manhattan.

Still other local leaders joining with the President today include Rep. Peter King (R) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D).

President Obama is currently visiting FDNY's Broadway firehouse.
On a wall at the firehouse, located at 8th Avenue and 48th Street, are the 15 photos of the brave men who gave their lives to save others on 9/11.
“Every day when I wake up and I see my own family, I think about them. Every day I come to work, I look at the memorial on the wall and I think about them,” Venditto said.
“It’s never far from your thoughts here in this house. I mean, the moment you walk through the door, you see the pictures,” firefighter Andrew Sforza said.
It has been a decade since Maureen Santora buried her son Chris’ remains. That day, she was the very picture of heartbreak, but on Monday she was elated.
“I’m just filled with joy that my son is up in heaven, screaming and yelling and saying ‘we got him, we got him ma,’” she told CBS 2′s Don Dahler.
Firefighter John Fila was more somber, knowing that he could have been killed that day. He was supposed to be working, but switched shifts with Chris Santora.

From Ground Zero:

Crowds on Vesey Street before it was closed to traffic

Security atop the Post Office building

Looking down at the memorial and the crowd gathered for the memorial

Crowds gathered along Church Street in front of the Hilton
The NY Times liveblogged the President's visit to Ground Zero.

UPDATE: reports that someone in the crowd near Ground Zero was arrested after suspected of pulling a gun out of a backpack near Church and Vesey:

Authorities apprehended a man who witnesses say may have pulled a gun out of a backpack as President Barack Obama's motorcade passed today in New York.

The man, who wore a blue hat, had dark curly hair and appeared to be in his 20s, was wearing a backpack. New York Police Department officers and Secret Service agents shouted, "Get down, get down," and tackled the man at the corner of Church and Vessey Streets in lower Manhattan.

Obama had just left the World Trade Center site and his motorcade was turning from Vessey Street to Church Street when the incident occurred in front of the Church Street Station Post Office.
May turn out to be nothing (like someone getting a camera out of their bag and someone overreacting).

All I can say is that it wasn't me (I was in the crowd, but left before the motorcade went past so I missed out on the commotion). The photo was included in a story by Fox5 NY.

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