NEW YORK (AP) — A group of Sept. 11 family members vowed Thursday to protest when the unidentified remains of those killed at the World Trade Center are moved to a repository at the site this weekend.
The relatives said the plan to house the remains underground in the same building as the National September 11 Memorial Museum is disrespectful and that they would rather see the remains entombed above ground on the adjacent memorial plaza.
JEMS: 9/11 Victims’ Remains Interred at Ground Zero
"Let us have a voice! Let us have a say!" said retired firefighter Jim Riches, who lost his son, also a firefighter, in the 2001 terrorist attacks. "We are outraged and we will never rest until our loved ones, America's heroes, rest in peace."
Sally Regenhard, who also lost her firefighter son at the trade center, said family members dread the opening of the museum on May 21.
"It's a day of sadness and a day of outrage," she said.
The unidentified remains will be moved on Saturday from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner on Manhattan's East Side to the memorial site. City officials say that once there, the remains will be placed in a custom-designed repository at bedrock level in the same building as the museum.
The repository will be overseen by the medical examiner with hopes that improvements in technology could eventually help identify the 7,930 separate body parts.
City officials have said that family members were consulted about the plan, but the opponents say all relatives should have polled.
"The city won't do a survey because they know we're right, that the majority of family members would say no," said Norman Siegel, a civil rights lawyer who is representing family members opposed to the city's plans.
Phil Walzak, a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio, said de Blasio's administration "has engaged the community of 9/11 families continuously since entering office four months ago. This includes talking with and listening to families who have questions about this plan — as well as many families who are supportive and comfortable with this plan."
The remains will be moved in a solemn procession led by police and fire department vehicles.
Police Commissioner William Bratton and Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano said their departments are honored to take part.
Bratton said he hoped the transfer and continued efforts to identify the remains would advance "the journey to peace and closure for their loved ones."
Forty-one percent of the 2,753 people reported missing at the World Trade Center have not been identified.
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