What's more important — personal safety or the freedom to go where you please?
It's a question that's at the heart of a lawsuit over the proposed security measures at the new World Trade Center in lower Manhattan.
The first of the newly designed buildings built at or near the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks opened this week. Additional skyscrapers, including the tallest building in America, will follow. But some residents who live near the World Trade Center claim that the New York Police Department is being excessive with the safety measures, The New York Times reports.
In an effort to keep the area secure, law enforcement has designed and is continuing to implement gates, fences and checkpoints. While the authorities argue that the security measures are necessary (the NYPD has called the new World Trade Center a potential target for terrorists), some locals who are finding their daily lives disrupted aren't so sure.
The Times reports that a group of 12 residents and one shop owner from the area near the World Trade Center are suing the NYPD in a complaint that is expected to be filed on Thursday.
Chief among the group's complaints are the NYPD's apparent secrecy regarding the reasoning behind the security plans.
From the Times:
The Police Department plans to close the streets in and around the trade center to normal through traffic. Vehicles would be screened before entering this zone, or “campus,” as the police call it. Some would be searched. Only those having demonstrable business at the trade center, or those previously certified as trustworthy, would be allowed in.
People who live in the area will be given the option of enrolling in a Trusted Access Program, according to the Times, similar to programs at airports that allow approved travelers to bypass security lines. However, that would entail having to prove one's identity in order to get home in a city known for its accessibility. How delivery vehicles and taxis will navigate the zone is also a concern.
After the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and killed 168 people, including 19 children, the federal government began implementing secure perimeters and barriers around other high-profile landmarks.
CBS News writes that the 1995 attack affected all Americans. "Blast barriers now surround many office and federal buildings; heavily armed security forces routinely patrol train stations and airports."
The U.S. General Services Administration published a study on how security features affect urban living. One problem addressed in the study: the unsightly appearance of barriers. That's something the new World Trade Center's security plans to address by keeping the architecture consistent, according to the Times.
What are your thoughts on public safety vs. public freedom? Is New York going too far to keep the World Trade Center safe, or are precautions justified? Please leave a comment below.