NEW YORK (AP) The fire department is exploring other options for a memorial to the September 11 attacks after being criticized for a proposed statue that some said represented political correctness run amok.
The department’s first choice was a statue that would have been based on a photograph of three firefighters raising a U.S. flag, but would have changed the firefighters’ ethnicities.
The three men in the photograph taken by Tom Franklin of the Record of Hackensack, N.J. are white. The statue depicts firefighters who are black, white and Hispanic.
Whether the revised work would exactly replicate the photo or whether a different image would be used was not mentioned in a statement issued Thursday by Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta.
The property-management company that owns the fire department headquarters building in Brooklyn had already commissioned the work inspired by the photograph.
Commissioner Scoppetta said he will work with the property owner to discuss and explore other ideas to “ensure a fitting memorial.” Property owner Bruce Ratner said in the statement that he would support the fire department’s decision.
Bill Kelly, a lawyer who represents the three firefighters, said he is encouraged by the FDNY statement.
“I think that the fire department and [the property management company] have finally heard the voice of the people in this city and around the country,” he said. “Moments such as this should not be used to make political statements.”
In a statement, the Record said: “It is our hope that FDNY will still consider a correct depiction of the photo as part of its final memorial.”
The department initially said the statue more accurately represented the 343 department members killed.
Of the city’s 11,500 firefighters, 2.7 percent are black and 3.2 percent Hispanic. Twelve of the firefighters who died were black; another 12 were Hispanic.