After an embarrassing ceremony filled with flubs that angered many of the attendees, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio made a startling admission: his staff had forgotten to even plan the event and had thrown together a slapdash effort at a memorial only after the mass murder at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.
On October 31, 2017, an Islamist terrorist plowed a rented truck into numerous pedestrians and bicyclists on the Hudson River Park bike path. Eight people were killed in the attack and a dozen more were injured before the attacker crashed the truck into a school bus and was then shot by New York Police. The suspect survived the shooting and is expected to face trial next year on multiple charges of murder and terrorism.
The attack was the deadliest attack in New York City since 9/11.
What happened at the memorial?
New York City held a memorial for the one year anniversary, and by all accounts it was a slipshod mess. Family members of the victims were not notified that a memorial was even going to take place until the day before in some cases, and the ceremony was disjointed and obviously not well coordinated. Perhaps most embarrassingly, de Blasio forgot to even mention the names of the victims until he stepped down from the podium, and one of the mourners asked him if he didn't plan to read off a list of names of the victims.
A shamefaced de Blasio returned to the podium and announced, "I want to apologize. This should have been part of the gathering, to read the names."
Afterwards, de Blasio made a surprisingly frank admission: he and his aides completely forgot to plan the memorial until the last minute. "The problem was the event was put together way too late. It was not originally planned," de Blasio told WCBS.
According to WCBS, de Blasio said that it did not even occur to NYC officials to hold a memorial until after the mass murder at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. "The idea really emanated from what happened the week before because it focused everyone’s attention on the fact that we went through another type of attack.. So there was an effort to put together an appropriate memorial, but it wasn’t handled right."
Some friend and family members of the victims told WCBS that they did not accept the mayor's apology. A man named Hugh Hales-Tooke attended the ceremony on behalf of the only local victim, Nicholas Cleves, because Cleves' mother could not attend due to the fact that she was not notified of the ceremony until 4:00 pm on October 30th. Mr. Hales-Tooke was furious and refused to shake de Blasio's hand after the ceremony, telling WCBS that he was incredibly angry that the victim's mother could not attend due to the city's poor planning.
Many in New York City claimed that this is just another instance of de Blasio ignoring local problems of the city in favor of his national ambitions. De Blasio is widely expected to run for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.