9/11 families appeal court decision

A bouquet of roses lies at the World Trade Center Memorial in New York.

Story highlights

  • The 9/11 Memorial Museum plans to keep unidentified remains in a repository underground
  • Some families of World Trade Center victims object, saying they were never consulted
  • They want unidentified remains above ground, similar to DC's Tomb of the Unknowns
  • They are in court to get a full list of victims' families to seek their input
Seventeen family members of people killed in the September 11, 2001, World Trade Center attacks are appealing a court decision that ultimately will decide where unidentified victims' remains will rest.
The appeal comes in a New York court decision of a lawsuit brought after the 9/11 Memorial Museum decided to keep the unidentified remains of ground zero victims underground near the museum. According to the 9/11 Memorial's website, the repository will be located between the footprints of the two towers and will be accessed, operated, and maintained solely by the city's office of the chief medical examiner.
The 9/11 Memorial and Museum received "overwhelming feedback" from families that led to the decision to house the remains in a repository "on the sacred ground of the site," according to the website.
But the plan has sparked opposition, with some families saying in a statement, "The families of those who were killed were neither meaningfully notified nor consulted about this plan, and many have objected to it."
Jim Riches, chairman of the Families and Parents of Firefighters and WTC Victims, told CNN that one of his group's members polled families on a list of about 1,000 e-mail addresses. "Of the 350 families who responded, 95% said they wanted the remains to be above ground like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier," Riches said, referring to the Washington site dedicated to U.S. service members whose remains were not identified.
Those families filed a petition requesting contact information for the 2,749 family members of 9/11 victims. On October 25, the New York trial court denied the petition on the grounds that releasing that information would violate privacy laws. On Friday, the 17 families filed an appeal in New York County Supreme Court.
The goal of the appeal is to have the city release a list of family members to "(seek) their input regarding the City's current plan to place the unidentified human remains in the Museum." The 17 family members that are appealing believe the state's Freedom of Information Law should allow them access to the list of names.
"The city has already given the names and addresses to the 9/11 Memorial Museum," Riches said. "You can't pick and choose who you give the names to. Let the family members pick where they want the remains to be put. They're not letting us have any say."
Lauren Passalacqua, a spokeswoman for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said, ""The city will review the appeal."