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A Bad Idea Dies

Public pressure and the threat of legal action scuttles the multicultural fire department memorial.

7:30 PM, Jan 18, 2002 • By BETH HENARY
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YESTERDAY New York City developer Forest City Ratner abandoned the design of a September 11 memorial it commissioned after the project brought outcries from firefighters and the public. Forest City Ratner, which manages fire department headquarters where a memorial will eventually stand, expressed a desire for the memorial to be a respected object in the community, a reality that clearly wasn't coming to pass with the proposed statue.

What the new memorial will look like is not known, but Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta stated that he would work with Forest City Ratner to "ensure a fitting memorial."

At the request of the New York fire department, a monument inspired by the now famous September 11 photo taken by Thomas Franklin of the Record was altered to satisfy politically correct sensibilities. The three firefighters--all Caucasian--captured in the photograph were replaced in the model with three unidentified firefighters of different races.

Both the Record and the three firefighters in the photograph retained legal representation to try to halt the project. The Record claimed Forest City Ratner was violating the paper's copyright, and the firefighters claimed rights to their images. Attorney Bill Kelly, representing both the firefighters and the Record, sent letters to Forest City Ratner and the FDNY demanding that they cease construction of the memorial. Kelly gave them a deadline that expired today; after that he planned to pursue litigation to obtain an injunction.

But persistent media exposure and dissent from all corners caused Forest City Ratner--which earlier in the week had reiterated its desire to proceed with the multicultural version of the memorial--to reconsider.

Beth Henary is an editorial assistant at The Weekly Standard.