Move terror trials
The proposed 9/11 terror trials will impose too heavy a burden on Lower Manhattan, so other alternatives must be seriously studied immediately.
Two months ago, when we supported the decision to hold the trial in Lower Manhattan’s federal courthouse, we emphasized the need for financial support for New York’s law enforcement and for the local businesses that will be hurt by the security closures. Since then, the initial guess as to the security figure has tripled from $75 million to over $200 million per year and there has been virtually no discussion on the federal level of providing any help to stores in and near the sprawling security zone. Sufficient help from Washington is a fantasy.
Community Board 1 members and others have suggested some good alternative sites including Governors Island, which is minutes away from Lower Manhattan and refutes the NIMBY counter-argument. Last Thursday, the same day Police Commissioner Ray Kelly suggested the island was worth studying, he pulled back some after we reported on our Web site that Mayor Bloomberg thought it was a dumb idea.
We’re pleased the mayor finally is supporting moving the trial and we hope he reconsiders his rejection of the island, since it’s clear that a real study has not been done yet.
We are not talking about building a large prison, but guarding five suspects on a 173-acre island. The U.S. military, federal law enforcement and the N.Y.P.D. will be able to secure the island much easier and with much less disruption to the public (perhaps none) than there would be in Lower Manhattan.
The other suggestions of C.B. 1 chairperson Julie Menin are outside the city and include Stewart National Guard Base, West Point and the federal prison in Otisville. We think Sing Sing prison in Ossining is worth looking at too. These and Governors Island are all in New York’s Southern District, a prerequisite for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, although we’re not convinced that’s legally required since the 9/11 crime also occurred in Washington. The Southern District has successfully prosecuted terrorists before and civilian courts are ideal when possible.
The mayor should encourage a legitimate feasibility study of the island. All of the alternatives look like they could be better than Pearl St. and only one has to be feasible.
Like so many in the Downtown community, we were deeply saddened to learn last week of the death of Albert Capsouto, who did so much in the last three decades to help build this community, and left us at far too young an age.
The gentle, French pronunciation of his name (“Al-bear” not “Al-burt”) was so fitting for this quiet, soft-spoken man who accomplished a lot with his easy manner. We don’t ever remember hearing him toot his horn about serving free food to 9/11 rescue workers in his Capsouto Frères restaurant, or citing the accolades he received for making the case for Downtown small businesses in need of help. There are lots of people who did much less and said much more about their post-9/11 experiences.
In addition to opening the restaurant with his brothers 30 years ago, Albert served for two decades on Community Board 1, helping make Tribeca and Lower Manhattan a better place. His views always commanded respect, because his points were always thoughtful, and even when unpopular, they were made in an amiable way. The spirit of the romantic, yet casual restaurant lives on with Jacques and Sammy Capsouto, so stop on by, raise a glass, order a soufflé and remember that friendly man who seemed to have a kind word for everyone.