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Senate GOP condemns 9/11 imagery used at climate event

Three state Senate Republicans.
New York NOW

A pair of Democrats in the State Senate have apologized after they posed with a banner in Albany on Tuesday that compared the impact of climate change to 9/11 terror attacks in New York City. The two lawmakers — Sen. Rachel May from the Syracuse area and Sen. Robert Jackson from Manhattan — both said they didn’t realize what was on the banner at the time.

The banner showed the words “climate change” written on an airplane that was headed toward two buildings that appeared to represent the iconic Twin Towers of the original World Trade Center, which was destroyed in the attacks.

Republicans in the State Senate questioned the circumstances around the photo late Tuesday. Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, said the lack of awareness from the pair of Democrats was “alarming.”

“It is very, very disappointing when this passes for political discourse, or scoring political points,” Ortt said.

In a statement, May said she didn’t see what was on the banner before she posed for it.

“I attended the rally today to support a significant investment in climate change in the state budget. I posed for numerous photos with activists, and did not see the content of the sign,” May said. “The imagery on the banner is unacceptable and I would never endorse such a cynical use of our state’s history to score cheap points. I apologize sincerely to all New Yorkers and call upon the organizers to similarly condemn this message.”

Jackson posted a similar statement to Twitter, apologizing for posing with the banner, and claiming not to have recognized its content.

“I did not note the details of the artwork and would never support anything that denigrates the memory of all who were impacted by 9/11. The artwork depicted is wrong and I fully reject it,” Jackson wrote. "As a NYC native who continues to be personally impacted by the events of that horrific day, I sincerely apologize to anyone who might be confused by any political ploy to mischaracterize my actions.”

NY Renews, the climate advocacy coalition that organized Tuesday’s event, said the banner wasn’t endorsed by the group's leaders and was removed after it was noticed.

“NY Renews did not invite or sanction this banner and we condemn the use of this imagery. When organizers became aware of the banner, the holder was asked to leave. It is completely unacceptable and has no place in NY Renews. We apologize to all New Yorkers,” the statement said.

Sen. Alexis Weik, a Republican from Suffolk County, said that as the wife and mother of members of law enforcement, the 9/11 tragedy shouldn’t be used to politicize climate change.

“And the number of my friends that I lost on 9/11. Classmates, loved ones that I lost on 9/11. The families that were affected in my community. My children’s friends who came to our house to play with my children, who were growing up without their father,” Weik said. “This is something we’ve been going on for 20 years about.”