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Michael Okwu: N.Y. firefighters remain bitter

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A confrontation between New York firefighters and police at the World Trade Center site resulted in charges being filed against 10 firefighters over the weekend.

Some of those charges have been dropped and others reduced, but the dispute continues to simmer over a decision to limit the number of police and firefighters involved in the recovery effort.

CNN's Michael Okwu reported Monday on the tension at the disaster site.

OKWU: We are told that the firefighters are still very, very bitter about Mayor Rudy Giuliani's decision to scale back the numbers here, so we're waiting to see what might develop. On Sunday the president of the union representing fire officers was charged with criminal trespass. That came one day after the head of the firefighters' union was arrested on the same charge.

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All of this stems from a very emotional protest on Friday. Some 12 firefighters were arrested and five police officers were injured in a scuffle when firefighters stormed past a police barricade. Most of those charges have been dropped. These were felony charges of assault and inciting riot.

The mayor has said emphatically that he made this decision because of safety reasons. There were so many people milling around Ground Zero, and there were so many close calls over the past few weeks. He has called the actions of the firefighters on Friday completely unacceptable, and the police department says that it will not tolerate any violence.

There are still some 3,933 people missing, some of them firefighters. Their colleagues say they want to be intimately involved in the recovery effort because they know so many of their fallen brethren, which is why they would like to be here when their remains are found and so that they can pay their proper respects.


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