Plans to bury more than 9,000 unidentified remains of people killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks at a National Memorial Museum have met opposition from a group of families who complain they were not consulted.
The group of 17 families of victims said on Thursday they had made a request under the Freedom Of Information Law (FOIL) for a full list of next of kin of the 2,749 people killed in or around the Twin Towers to inform them and allow them to voice their views on the ceremonial burial.
Under the current plans, the remains are to be buried beneath the National September 11 Memorial Museum which opens on the 10th anniversary of the 2001 attack.
The families say they were neither notified nor consulted.
“Our goal … is to inform the families and ask what they’d like to see,” said Sally Regenhard, whose son was killed in the attacks. “We want a democratic process and right now it’s a dictatorship. If the majority of people come back and say it’s fine, then that’s okay.”
The group want to send letters to notify families and seek their input over the plans.
“They (the memorial planners) could have easily sent consultation letters, but they refused,” said Rosemary Cain, whose 35-year old son George, a firefighter, was killed in the attacks. “We have the right to decide where they (those killed) will spend eternity.”
An attorney for the group, Norman Siegel, said that only 5 percent of victims were discovered intact, meaning that the 9,000 body parts held by the medical examiner could potentially correspond to 95 percent of victims.
Michael Frazier, a spokesman for the memorial, denied that the families were excluded from planning.
“The families of 9/11 victims guided the decision to return the unidentified and unclaimed remains to the World Trade Center site,” he said. “Families … were consulted during public and private meetings with officials … and they have repeatedly stated it is essential the remains return to the sacred bedrock of the site.”
The New York City Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit has to respond to freedom of information requests within five business days. It is a state law, distinct from the Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).