Families of 9/11 victims have renewed their call to have the unidentified remains of their loved ones removed from the newly opened Sept. 11 Memorial Museum after it was revealed it was the site of a exclusive party Tuesday night.
Five relatives spoke out Wednesday against the gathering, organized by the museum itself and included former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, calling it a sacrilege to the memory of those who died.
The family members, who also protested the idea of a gift shop and cafe in the space, said they were sickened by the thought of people eating, drinking and partying above the remains and said they need to be removed from the museum if these functions are going to be commonplace.
“Seeing what they’ve done with the gift shop and these parties means they think the remains mean nothing,” said Rosaleen Tallon at a news conferenceat the office of their attorney Norman Siegel. Tallon who lost her brother Sean in the terrorist attacks.
Reports said several first responders were asked to leave the museum early Tuesday because because the event was beginning at 6:30 p.m. Michael Frazier, a spokesman for the museum, said it closed early Tuesday to prepare for the public opening the next morning.
Families of 9/11 victims were invited to the reception along with donors and Conde Nast, which sponsored the free admission for the museum’s opening day Wednesday, according to Frazier.
“The small gathering was done respectfully and in recognition of our supporters, who helped to build this important institution,” he said in a statement.
Jim Riches, who lost his son at the World Trade Center, however, said having any type of function that takes place on top of the remains was anything but respectful.
“This was a huge smack in the face,” he said. “They have no conscience and don’t know what they are doing.”
The families also frowned on Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Groupopening a cafe in the museum this summer.
Sally Regenhard, who lost her son Christian in the attacks, said it made the museum more of a place for profit than a place of respect for the thousands who died that day.
“Let them do what they want, but I can tell you none of us families will go in there,” she said.
Frazier said the museum’s plans always included refreshments and Jee Won Park, a spokeswoman for Union Square Hospitality, said it will take the families’ concerns into its planning.
“We are working closely with museum to make sure it is constructed in a thoughtful manner,” Park said.