Monday, November 5, 2001

NEW YORK (AP) The city fire officers’ union president surrendered to police yesterday to face a trespassing charge, the second union leader arrested for a scuffle with police during a firefighters rally last week.
“I’m outraged. I don’t think I’m guilty of anything,” Capt. Peter Gorman said before turning himself in.
Kevin Gallagher, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, was charged with trespassing late Saturday for trying to cross a police barrier at a rally at the World Trade Center site.
Union officials said the arrests of Capt. Gorman and Mr. Gallagher came after police detectives reviewed videotape of Friday’s rally. Police refused to comment.
Hundreds of firefighters came out to protest a change in city policy that limits the number of fire department members helping to recover the remains of the World Trade Center attack victims.
Firefighters tangled with police as they tried to march past a barricade near the trade center. Five police officers were injured.
Twelve firefighters were arrested Friday, although prosecutors reduced or dropped the charges against them Saturday. Union officials said yesterday that city officials and police commanders are now targeting their leaders.
“The only reason that Captain Gorman is being arrested is because he had the temerity to criticize the mayor,” said Steven Rabinowitz, an attorney for the Uniformed Fire Officers Association.
Mr. Rabinowitz said Capt. Gorman was approached by police after he held a news conference Saturday afternoon to protest the arrests of firefighters at the rally.
“In the mayor’s view, these men are heroes as long as they shut up and do what they’re told,” Mr. Rabinowitz said.
Firefighters have taken issue with a new policy that restricts to 25 the number of firefighters and police officers at the scene from each department. At times, the number had been as large as 150.
City officials said there were safety and health hazards in having large numbers of firefighters searching through debris in the midst of cranes and excavation equipment.
Firefighters fear the new policy will turn the recovery effort into one of construction essentially. Of the 343 firefighters lost in the trade center in the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, more than 200 of them, along with thousands of civilians and other uniformed officers, are still buried in the rubble.

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