Arizona Senate Panel Votes to Remove Some Messages on Sept. 11 Memorial

PHOENIX -- A state Senate committee on Tuesday voted along party lines in favor of legislation to remove some inscription panels from the state's Sept. 11 memorial.

A Republican legislator proposing the measure said some of the inscriptions are offensive and detract from the memorial's intended purpose of honoring those killed and injured in the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York.

"This is a memorial. This is like a gravestone. It shouldn't have controversy," said the sponsor, Rep. John Kavanagh of Fountain Hills. "It divides us and it needs to be put to an end."

The 11 inscriptions that would be removed include ones that say "Foreign-born Americans afraid," "Must bomb back" and "You don't win battles of terrorism with more battles."

Democratic Rep. Steve Farley of Tucson appealed unsuccessfully to the Senate panel to reject the measure.

"Please don't transform our monument to 9-11 into a monument for censorship," he said.

The state commission that raised private funding for the memorial and chose its design replaced two other inscriptions several years ago in response to criticism.

The inscriptions, which were submitted by commission members and the public, are etched into a steel visor that partially circles the memorial located at Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza near the Capitol.

The memorial was dedicated in 2006 on the fifth anniversary of the attacks.

The House in 2008 passed a bill to remove all of the inscriptions and replace them with a timeline of events on Sept. 11, 2001. The 2008 bill died in the Senate.

The Appropriations Committee's 8-4 vote Tuesday sends the current bill to the full Senate.

Senate passage would send it to the House.