Sept. 11 families to protest placing victim remains in Ground Zero museum

(L-R) 9/11 victim family members Rosemary Cain, Sally (L-R) 9/11 victim family members Rosemary Cain, Sally Regenhard and Jim Riches attend a news conference near Ground Zero in which they called on Mayor Bill de Blasio and President Barack Obama to prevent the placement of the unidentified remains of Sept. 11 victims 70 feet below ground inside of the 9/11 museum. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Families of those killed in the 9/11 attacks who oppose placing unidentified remains of victims inside the National September 11 Memorial & Museum said they will protest Saturday's transfer from the medical examiner's office.

"This is how I am going to spend my Mother's Day weekend," said Rosemary Cain, of Massapequa, who wept Thursday as she talked about the loss of her son George Cain, 35, an FDNY firefighter who died in the collapse of the Twin Towers. "On Mother's Day I will be thinking about my precious son who will be brought to the bowels of this museum. It's so unfair. I am tired and bitterly disappointed."

Norman Siegel, a lawyer for relatives of 9/11 victims, said a survey of 300 families asking about putting remains in the museum showed that 94.6 percent were against it.

They said "that human remains should be in a place of reverence," Siegel said, during a news conference Thursday at the 1010 FDNY firehouse at Ground Zero attended by several victims' families. "The museum is a commercial venture not a cemetery."

Saturday morning, unidentified remains will be carried in a procession by NYPD, FDNY and Port Authority vehicles from the medical examiner's office, where they have been since the attacks, to the museum. Opponents said they will picket nearby as the procession arrives.

An opponents' letter to President Barack Obama asked him to intervene and persuade Mayor Bill de Blasio to poll all 9/11 families as to whether the museum is an appropriate resting place.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

A spokesman for de Blasio said the mayor has no plans to stop the placing of the remains in the museum.

"The de Blasio Administration is implementing the remains transfer plan it inherited from the previous Administration," de Blasio press secretary Phil Walzak said in a statement. "Our administration has engaged the community of 9/11 families continuously since entering office four months ago."

The city maintains the remains need to be placed at the museum because a medical examiner's office will be installed in the basement to continue identification efforts. The office will be fully staffed and operational with DNA testing equipment, Walzak said.

Follow Newsday on social media

Monica Iken-Murphy, whose husband, Michael, died in the south tower, said that because the museum will house the identification office and is at Ground Zero, it is an appropriate location. After the remains can no longer be identified she supports having them placed on the memorial plaza, which opponents support.

Retired FDNY Chief Jim Riches, whose son, Jim, died in the collapsed towers, said the remains should be "at the plaza where it will be open and free for the public to pay their respects."