[guest post by Dana]
Tribute in Light, the world’s beloved twin beams of light, will not shine over lower Manhattan as part of this year’s 9/11 commemoration. This incredibly difficult decision was reached in consultation with our partners after concluding the health risks during the pandemic were far too great for the large crew required to produce the annual Tribute in Light. We hope to resume this iconic tribute for the 20th anniversary. In a spirit of unity and remembrance, the city will come together for a “Tribute in Lights” initiative to inspire the world and honor the promise to never forget.
After further inquiry, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum elaborated:
Due to impacts of COVID-19, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum and Michael Ahern Production Services (MAPS) made the very difficult decision to not move forward with Tribute in Light this year. This year’s cancellation stems from health and safety concerns and underscores the far-reaching consequences of the global health crisis.
As the pandemic continues to surge throughout the country, it was necessary to consider the health and safety of the nearly 40 stagehands who work in close proximity to produce Tribute in Light. For multiple weeks in August and September, crew members work hours-long shifts at Battery Parking Garage to prepare for the production on the night of September 11. The facilities and the complex installation which requires stagehands to work closely together do not align with recommended COVID-19 health and safety precautions.
Unfortunately, the decision to cancel has resulted in a petition at Change.org, that calls on New Yorkers to congregate together in peaceful protest at Ground Zero with flashlights in hand:
There is No Reason to not have the lights as a tribute to those who lost their lives or Loved ones on that Horrible September Morning. The nonsense about Covid safety is just that NONSENSE! Why don’t we just consider it a peaceful protest against radical Islam!!! Bring your masks and Flashlights!!! This Year On September 11th Ground Zero will have lights with or without your Support!
After months of witnessing mass protests throughout the streets of NYC, and with bowling alleys, gyms, museums, and cultural institutions set to reopen next week, it seems odd that the preparation to assemble lights on a building is a bridge too far.
And where is Mayor DeBlasio on this? Has he urged organizers to continue with the tribute on behalf of the city and the victims of the attacks? Well, I can’t find a comment from him specifically addressing the issue, but this was his take this week on why enormous protests during the pandemic should be treated differently than other events or issues during a pandemic:
“The protests were an entirely different reality,” de Blasio said recently, claiming it is “apples and oranges” to say New York City is engaging in a double standard by giving anti-police activists free rein around the city while also imposing strict lockdown measures on businesses.
He added, “A national phenomenon that was not something that the government could just say, you know, go away, something that really came from the grassroots. And, obviously, it had profound meaning, and we’re all acting on the meaning of those protests.”
Even earlier than that, a reporter asked de Blasio whether there is “one set of rules for protesters and another for everyone else.”
You bet, said the mayor.
“When you see a nation, an entire nation, simultaneously grappling with an extraordinary crisis seeded in 400 years of American racism,” de Blasio said, “I’m sorry, that is not the same question as the understandably aggrieved store owner or devout religious person who wants to go back to services.”
Priorities, people. No wonder people are fleeing the city in droves.