The New York Dept. of Education has launched an investigation over reports that a group of middle school students were caught throwing trash into the reflecting pools of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum during a recent school field trip.
Students from Junior High School 292 in East New York were accused of treating the reflecting pools “like a garbage dump,” the New York Daily News reported.
Memorial spokesman Michael Frazier confirmed to the newspaper that the students were booted from the memorial for tossing refuse into the reflecting pools.
In addition, one of the students reportedly tried to bring firearm ammunition into the site. Police said they found three .33-caliber rounds in a plastic bin in the security area.
“It really is so sad that anyone would disrespect the souls that were lost in the terrorist attacks back on 9/11,” said Al Hagan, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association. “One can only hope that these children do not become lost and that they learn from their mistakes.”
But that’s not likely.
One student told the newspaper that “no one was disrespecting. It was nothing like that. Everyone was kind of bored and it was just like something to do.”
Eyewitnesses told the Daily News that the kids threw empty soda bottles and baseballs into the pools — marking the original footprints of the World Trade Center towers.
“They were making jokes and throwing stuff in the fountain,” said another student. “It didn’t seem like a big deal.”
But other visitors were outraged by their behavior.
“That is an absolute disgrace,” Sharon Hooks told the newspaper. “I don’t care if these children were too young to remember the events of that day. They need to be taught to be respectful.
“It’s a memorial,” Rene LaRosa told the Daily News. “They showed an absolute lack of respect.”