Two CNN producers were arrested after trying to breach security at the World Trade Center building site, failing where one 16-year-old, three parachutists, and their lookout had previously succeeded.
Yonatan Pomrenze, 35, and Connor Fieldman Boals, 26, face charges of trespassing, disorderly conduct and obstruction of governmental administration. The two were spotted repeatedly trying to enter the off-limits premises in the middle of the day, video camera, tripod and strap-on camera in tow. The two appeared to be chasing a story — check out how easy it is to break into the WTC! — when they were stopped by authorities and nabbed. The New York Times reports:
The men first tried going through a gate at Vesey and Washington Streets, where they were stopped by a Port Authority Police Department officer.
When they were stopped by police, they made their pitch:
[Port Authority spokesman Joseph] Pentangelo said the men explained to the officer, in effect, that “if a 16-year-old could get on the site, they should also be able to get in.”
And persevered on, as dogged journalists must:
The men then continued along Vesey Street where a police officer observed Mr. Boals twice trying to climb the fence, Mr. Pentangelo said. “He’s then told to stop doing that,” he said.
But eventually were caught, perhaps showing that the conceit of their piece was off-base:
They were arrested at 2:08 p.m., at an electronic gate at Vesey and Church Streets, he said. “There’s a sign that says no trespassing and there’s a manifest that says who is allowed in there,” Mr. Pentangelo said. “It’s clearly marked.”
CNN quickly distanced itself from the incident, saying the two had been "in the surrounding area to do a story about the recent incidents at the W.T.C. and other sites — and the notion that daredevils are being drawn to them," but not to explicitly break the law.
The CNN crew was obviously inspired by the viral video that came out this week of three BASE jumpers leaping from the top of the 104-story tower at 1 World Trade Center in the middle of the night. That also followed another disturbing report of dismal security on the WTC site, after a New Jersey teenager climbed to the top of the same building last week. They have all been arrested. The BASE jumpers and their accomplice even turned themselves in willingly.
Hopefully, the arrest on this latest stunt means that security has been ramped up at the WTC site. But unlike the CNN producers, the trespassers who got away with snuck onto the grounds under the cover of darkness instead of right after lunch. Which apparently is not the best time to try to break into a construction site.