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To 9/11 Families, Saudi-Backed Golf Event Is ‘Another Atrocity’

BEDMINSTER, NJ — A somber and tearful group of protesters stood between two American flags behind a public library, in stark distinction to the festivities at a golf match three miles down the highway. They made their statements and promoted their trigger, however declined to take the battle to the gates of Trump National Golf Club Bedminster.

“We are happy that persons are refocusing consideration on this situation,” mentioned Jay Winuk, one of many protest’s organizers. “There is not any motive to go over to the scene the place one more atrocity is happening.”

The group, a band of members of the family of victims of the 9/11 terrorist assaults, spoke vehemently towards the Saudi-backed LIV Golf match being held this weekend on the membership owned by a former president, Donald J. Trump.

The group, 9/11 Justice, seeks to carry Saudi Arabian authorities officers, whom they assert supported the terrorists, to judgment. They are infuriated that Trump as soon as agreed that the Saudi authorities was accountable, however has modified his tune, they mentioned, to money in on Saudi efforts to sanitize the nation’s international picture by means of sports activities.

“How a lot cash does it take to show your again in your nation, on the American folks?” mentioned Juliette Scauso, who was 4 years outdated when her father, the firefighter Dennis Scauso, perished within the assaults.

For days, the LIV golfers and Trump have defended their selections to align with the breakaway tour and settle for thousands and thousands of {dollars} from the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, which is overseen by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Critics of the tour say it’s one other instance of the Saudis “sportswashing” atrocities attributed to them — supporting the 9/11 terrorists, killing the journalist Jamal Khashoggi and oppressing girls and members of the LGBTQ group.

Trump, who as a presidential candidate in 2016 blamed the Saudis for the 9/11 assaults, mentioned on Thursday that “no one’s gotten to the underside of 9/11, sadly.”

On Friday, the protesters had their probability to reply to each Trump and the golfers. Many accused the golfers of cowardice for proclaiming sympathy with their trigger whereas nonetheless accepting LIV Golf’s cash.

“You are taking a stand that you simply agree with the actions of Saudi Arabia or, simply as dangerous, that you’re so extremely grasping and callous that you simply actually do not care about these atrocities,” Scauso mentioned.

The organizers got here to the protest armed with copies of declassified FBI paperwork, which they are saying set up a transparent connection between 12 Saudi authorities officers and the terrorists within the months main as much as the assaults.

“It’s easy,” mentioned Tim Frolich, who was within the South Tower on 9/11. “The Saudis did it. They plotted it, they funded it, and now they’re attempting to distract each a type of issues with a golf match 50 miles away from floor zero. It’s deplorable.”

The group urged golf followers to boycott LIV Golf and requested golfers and anybody doing enterprise with the Saudis, together with broadcasters, to rethink. On Friday morning, at a close-by Marriott serving as headquarters for the tour on its Bedminster cease, members of the group approached David Feherty, the previous CBS and NBC golf analyst who has defected to hitch the tour despite the fact that it has no American broadcast tv contract but.

Brett Eagleson, the president of 9/11 Justice, requested Feherty if he would pay attention and maybe converse to the golfers concerning the decisions they’re making.

“He was truly actually receptive,” Eagleson mentioned. “He was actually open to working with us and having a partnership with us, versus being combative. I’m hopeful.”

But Eagleson was far much less conciliatory about Trump, who he mentioned was extra responsible than the golfers, as a result of, as the previous commander in chief, he ought to know higher. Eagleson was a part of a bunch that met with Trump on the White House on Sept. 11, 2019. They say Trump urged them to proceed their work, which they did with vigor on Friday.

Eagleson mentioned Trump’s declare that “no one’s gotten to the underside of 9/11” outraged the members of the family of victims past their already simmering anger.

“Our family members are the heroes,” he mentioned, “and the golfers and the previous president are cowards.”

As the protesters spoke, a number of passing vehicles honked horns in help, however just a few drivers yelled out in help of Trump and one yelled on the members of the family to go dwelling.

Winuk, whose brother, Glenn Winuk, a volunteer firefighter, died within the assaults, referred to as the Saudi funds “blood cash” and warned that anybody taking it will carry the “stench” of it endlessly.

“LIV Golf?” he mentioned. “For me and so many extra of us, it is extra like demise golf.”

Several members of the group, together with former Trump supporters, took turns on the lectern lambasting the Saudis, the golfers and the previous president. When requested what else the group had deliberate, Eagleson broke down whereas explaining the exhaustion he and others within the group felt.

“I’m bored with combating,” he mentioned by means of tears.

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