Disrespect of 9/11 memorials not uncommon, says father of fallen firefighter

Posted at 10:36 PM, Jul 02, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-02 22:36:14-04

(NEW YORK CITY) – Suddenly life has become real at Bravo TV.

The network has capitalized on reality programming in recent years.   It has also garnered criticism for what many have alleged to be more staged programming than reality.

What they have now is a real controversy.

“To the families of the 9/11 community, it’s very disrespectful, it’s very sad, and very hurtful,” said Jim Riches to PIX 11 News on Tuesday afternoon

The Retired FDNY Deputy Chief was referring to the disrespectful scene of Princesses: Long Island. A scene in which the show holds an impromptu photo shoot with beer around a firefighter statue in Great Neck Plaza.  The firefighter is Jonathan Ielpi, who died on 9/11.  The park is named after him.

We showed the controversial scene to Riches in the shadows of his son’s plaque at the Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance and Tribute Walk in Coney Island.  Unfortunately, disrespect at various 9/11 memorials is nothing new for Riches who serves as the Chairman of the 9/11 Parents and Families of Firefighters, “In Lower Manhattan they have scratched on the graffiti on some of the writings on some of the walls over there where the names are. Why would you do something like that?”

Princesses: Long Island star poses for offensive video with 9/11 memorial statue

Ray Goffio is the Director of the Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance and Tribute Walk.  He knows these faces and their stories too well.

Goffio says that the wall, which is located on the facade of the Brooklyn Cyclones Stadium, has had only one questionable incident in nearly ten years.

Meanwhile, at the “Postcards” 9/11 Memorial on Staten Island it’s been a different story.  Plaques have been damaged three times since its unveiling in 2004.  The last case coming over a two-week stretch in April.

Then of course there is the 9/11 Memorial where the World Trade Center towers once stood. Various cases of littering and scratchiti has been an issue the park according to law enforcement but what irks Riches the most is how people act at the 9/11 Memorial.  As he conveyed, no one smiles and poses for a picture at a cemetery, so why do they do it there?

Gioffi’s reasoning? “I mean what will you see in New York, you’ll see the best and you’ll see the worst of people.”

Bravo’s communications team was in crisis management mode over the insensitive episode.  A spokeswoman for the show emailing PIX 11 News a statement late Tuesday afternoon, “We are extremely sorry for any distress we caused the family of Jonathan Ielpi and other firefighters.  As soon as we were alerted that this was a memorial statue, Bravo immediately removed the footage from any future airings.  Again, we deeply regret this.”