On the evening of September 10, 2001, New York Police Officer Adam Hernandez was on patrol in his Greenwich Village precinct when he saw a man smashing car windows with a hammer. It was a random act of violence by an apparently mentally unstable person.
Officer Hernandez went about handling the situation. . Exiting his vehicle he walked over to the man, put his arm on the man’s shoulder and disarmed him, telling him he was under arrest. Without any difficulty or resistance, he put the man in handcuffs as required by police policy, put him into the back of his squad car, and drove him to the station to book him for destruction of property.
The problem came when he had to bring him before a judge for arraignment. The man had no identification and refused to give his name. This led to a long wait while the arraignment judge decided what to do. Adam tried talking with the man, trying to coax a name or Social Security number or some other method of establishing his identity to see if he had any kind of record. Nothing was working. The tired officer was at the end of an eight-hour shift at the time he made the arrest, but it was four hours before he finally got a last name out of the man and was able to head home on the subway to the apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side where he lived in a two-room apartment with his mother.
I knew Officer Hernandez, because my wife and I had moved into the same 11th floor of the building on W102 Street when Adam was only two. Because his mother, an Argentine woman, had run away from an abusive husband before Adam was born, and there was no father in his life, I became a kind of unofficial “godfather” male figure to Adam, who related this 9/11 story to me.
Arriving home at 5 a.m. September 11, Adam said he was so exhausted that he tiptoed through the kitchen and living/dining room where his mother was sleeping on the sofa, pulled the wire out of the phone so it wouldn’t wake him, and collapsed into a deep sleep on his bed in the other room, leaving a note for his mother on the refrigerator saying he’d gotten home late and not to wake him for breakfast.
Marta Hernandez headed out at 7 a.m. to her job as personal secretary to Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes.
At 8:45, the first jet hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. Of course, in no time, the news was all over town and Marta knew what had happened. It was shocking, but planes had struck tall buildings in Manhattan before, including a passenger plane that hit the top of the Empire State Building, so this being New York City, life went on…
For the rest of this article by DAVE LINDORFF, please go to The Edge, a publication of the Ithaca College Park Center on Independent Media.