TRIBECA, Manhattan — Residents who claim the stretch of bike path along West Street in Lower Manhattan set out to reclaim it Thursday evening — taking it back from the actions of an accused terrorist, in order to honor the eight people he allegedly mowed down with a truck earlier this week.
“When people were talking about our resiliency, I tended to think that people don’t give a s***," resident Lynn Walsh said. "It’s nice to know that people do. I’m really glad they’re doing something about this."
Walsh joined more than 100 mourners carrying candles at a vigil Thursday night as they walked on the promenade next to the route where suspect Sayfullo Saipov entered the bike path and drove for almost a mile before crashing into a school bus.
It was a sense of caring, bundled with a grim acceptance, that things are indeed changing, yet again, in Lower Manhattan, 16 years after 9/11.
This was also noted by actor and native New Yorker Dean Winters, who lives just a couple of blocks away, not far from where work crews are installing new barriers along the bike path.
“You don’t want it to be that way, but it is. It’s just, it becomes part of the fabric – you don’t want that to become part of the fabric – but it is,” Winters said.
Mike Novogratz, chairman of the board of Hudson River Park Friends, which organized the event, said the impetus to do the vigil came from board members, including one who was a neighbor of one the victims who was killed. He said the goal was to remember those who were lost, as well as reclaim the outdoor area from violence.
"It could have been any of us," he said of those who were killed. "We're not going to let a terrorist, a crazy man, ruin the space."
With the election just days away, Mayor Bill de Blasio, now full in full campaign mode, took time to visit the NYPD’s 1st precinct stationhouse with Police Commissioner James O’Neill and deliver remarks at Stuyvesant High School, at the intersection where police took down suspect Sayfullo Saipov.
“We’ve talked a lot the last couple of days about the strength and resiliency of New Yorkers – it was on display here powerfully,” said Mayor de Blasio.
So was bravery on that fateful afternoon.
It was William Harris, a U.S. Marine veteran and active volunteer firefighter, who confronted and then chased Saipov on foot, right up until the moment police intervened.
An amateur Snapchat video shows Harris on the ground, on all fours, he says, to let the officers know he was a ‘friendly’ – as they pounced on the suspect.
“He pointed the guns at me," Harris said. "So I tried to run him over with my truck. It feels good. Get to uh, stopping the bad guy, ya know. My father always taught me, help the people that can’t help themselves. Fight for those that can’t fight."
The 29-year-old Saipov faces federal terrorism charges that could carry the death penalty. Authorities accuse the Uzbek native of being inspired by the Islamic State group and plotting his attack over two months, choosing Halloween to carry it out because he assumed there would be more people on the streets.