New York City - Protect the Children of Lower Manhattan with Improved School Safety
- Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio
- United States of America
Tourists often stop outside the yard of PS 89 to read the plaque that hangs on the corner column: “On September 11, 2001, our beloved and brave children witnessed the worst of humanity. We honor the heroic and compassionate principals, teachers and staff of PS 89 and IS 289 who brought them to safety, of both body and spirit.” In the first week of November, that plaque was joined by a new banner: “The Battery Park Community thanks PS 89, IS 289, Manhattan Youth, NYPD & FDNY for their professionalism, strength & caring.”
On October 31, 2017, the children of PS 89 and IS 289 again saw the worst of humanity. At dismissal time, shortly after 3:00 pm, a man drove a rented truck down the Hudson River bike path, killing eight people during his drive. Two of these people died right outside of Stuyvesant High School, across the street from hundreds of children and parents leaving PS 89 and IS 289. He then ran his truck into a school bus with children on board, within feet of the gathered students and parents. He jumped out of his truck waving imitation guns until he was shot by a New York City Police officer who was in the area responding to another call.
PS 89 and IS 289, along with Stuyvesant High School and IS/PS 276 to the south, sit on land owned by the State of New York. In many ways, Battery Park City is an ideal neighborhood. The close-knit community enjoys bucolic parks, ball fields, shopping malls, a movie theater, restaurants, basketball courts, playgrounds. Many of the residents, along with tens of thousands of other NYC-metro residents, work in the financial institutions and other large corporations located in the neighborhood.
Needless to say, Battery Park City is not only enjoyed by the 14,000 residents and the thousands who work there, it is a frequent tourist destination and potential terrorist target. No trip to New York is complete without a walk along the Battery Park City Esplanade with its pristine landscaping, public artwork, and view of Lady Liberty. Of course, these splendid views sit adjacent to the site of New York’s largest terrorist attack. As a symbol of New York’s resiliency in the face of terror, the World Trade Center site, like many other sites around the world, embodies the juxtaposition of a tourist attraction and a terrorist target. ISIS inspired propaganda and selfie photographs continue to be posted regularly identifying the WTC, its museum and memorial as a target.
Even with the tens of thousands of people who pass through the neighborhood daily, and the proximity to terrorist targets, police presence in the neighborhood is minimal because crime is low. At a recent Community Board 1 meeting, a representative from the First Precinct explained to concerned parents that the First Precinct did not have the resources to assign patrols to such a low crime neighborhood, but a temporary patrol would be assigned to the fifty-seven (57) schools in Lower Manhattan until Governor’s Island re-opens in May.
Along similar lines, in assessing school safety, the DOE does not currently use proximity to terrorist targets as a criteria and is unwilling to discuss the changes to facilities and procedures with concerned parents.
We the undersigned, call on Mayor de Blasio with an urgent request to protect the students of lower Manhattan. As you are well aware, the terrorist attack of October 31 culminated at the street outside PS89/IS289 schools. The location of these schools, directly on the West Side Highway, blocks from the World Trade Center, and surrounded by financial institutions, make them uniquely vulnerable to such threats. We, the undersigned, ask that you:
1. Facilitate coordination of the NYPD and DOE to update policies/procedures and assess facilities that failed on October 31;
2. Advocate for parent input on school safety and communication with the authorities (DOE and NYPD) who govern it;
3. Provide funding to the DOE to upgrade any necessary changes to the facilities; and
4. Reinstate funding and re-enlist officers to the 1st Precinct to add regular police presence around the schools.
Terrorist attacks do not happen every day. They do not happen in every neighborhood. Three terrorist attacks have happened within a few blocks of PS 89 and IS 289. Threats to our neighborhood continue through ISIS propaganda. Please provide the assistance to protect the children in these public schools.
The New York City - Protect the Children of Lower Manhattan with Improved School Safety petition to Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio was written by Ellora DeCarlo and is in the category Students' Rights at GoPetition.