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Crowds assembled last night on the eastern side of the site where the World Trade Center once stood, at the perimeter of what is referred to since the 9/11 terrorist attack as "Ground Zero".
The site has become a kind of tourists destination with vendors selling wares: from postcards, to flags, to T-shirts, and, finally, photos of the twin towers on fire. The trinket shops are repugnant to New Yorkers - who had been adults during 9/11 and who had witnessed people falling from the sky or the towers falling. They are a kind of creepy simulation of a genuine horror and tragedy.
I was told by several people, that crowds last night totaled several thousand. They assembled along the entire Eastern side of the site earlier in the evening.
By the time I arrived the crowd was at one intersection and made up mostly of young twenty-somethings.
One of the most interesting aspects last night was that there seemed to be two groups of people. One group was cheering and chanting, breaking out into songs, and the others were bystanders, quietly taking photographs. There were media cameras and journalist of all types.
There was not a large presence of FDNY (firemen) or NYPD (police) except those appointed to cordon off the streets from traffic. Those that were down there, were reserved. Many of them over by the gate to the site, saying prayers, standing quietly, or leaving flowers.
People shouted obscenities, "USA," "We are the Champions," and "Yes we did," wrapped themselves in flags, and one man was even seen smoking a cigar. The environment had the feel of a sporting event or a carnival.
What I took away from the experience more than anything else, and perhaps what shocked me most, was how young the people there were. So young, that they could scarcely have been pre-teens when 9/11 happened.
I think I should also note, that the images give the appearance that there were even more people than actually were assembled. They all congregated on one intersection, with blocks empty of people outside of that intersection.
Please forgive me for using the word "protest" in the first video. I think having covered MENA protests since January, and a general state of exhaustion, words were just coming out of my mouth. Also my inability to pronounce the word bystanders, again, general tiredness.
Here are some videos.
More videos available here