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MFD remains neutral in New York conflict

By By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Nov. 4, 2001
NEW YORK, N.Y. Meridian firefighters who left for New York on Friday the same day fights broke out between their New York counterparts and police officers said they won't take part in the disagreement, but they are willing to pick up shovels and dig when they arrive at Ground Zero on Sunday.
The goal of the Meridian team, composed of Partridge, firefighter Gerald Mabry and public education officer Jimmy Hoffer, is to deliver nearly $25,000 in donations to the families of fallen New York firefighters.
Mabry echoed Partridge's comments, but added if given the choice, he would side with firefighters.
A dozen firefighters were arrested and five police officers were injured at Ground Zero when firefighters angrily protested Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani's decision to cut back the number of rescue workers to 75.
According to the New York Times, a demonstration by several hundred firefighters escalated into punches between firefighters and police officers. The protest concluded at City Hall, where helmeted officers held back firefighters who demanded the right to retrieve the remains of their "brothers."
Of the 343 firefighters killed when the World Trade Center collapsed, 250 are still buried in the rubble. Mabry said he wants to help, but he's not sure the city will accept more volunteers since Giuliani made the decision based on health hazards at the scene.
Partridge said 65 firefighters with his department volunteered during the week following the terrorist attacks to work at the scene or man New York fire stations.
Instead, firefighters began raising money at home.
Hoffer said he is not prepared for the magnitude of destruction he is about to see.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3236, or e-mail her at mtodd@themeridianstar.com.

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