Mailbag: A few readers say they're with Trump on 9/11 celebrations

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump appeared by phone on ABC's "This Week" on Nov. 22, 2015.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump appeared by phone on ABC's "This Week" on Nov. 22, 2015.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump recently attracted criticism and controversy for saying, "I watched in Jersey City, N.J., where thousands and thousands of people were cheering" as the World Trade Center collapsed.

Trump initially made the claim in a speech in Birmingham, Ala., and then doubled down on it during an interview with host George Stephanopoulos on ABC This Week.

We found were a couple of news articles that described rumors of celebrations that were either debunked or unproven. There’s no evidence there were celebrations by "thousands and thousands" of cheering people.  We rated his Birmingham claim Pants on Fire.

But that doesn’t mean everyone agreed with our analysis. We received a dozen emails from readers who swear they saw such celebratory behavior, typically in television news coverage at the time.

We aren’t changing our rating, because we’ve been unable to independently verify that footage of people celebrating in the United States actually exists. We noted in our fact-check that there was footage recorded and broadcast of people in other countries celebrating.

But we thought we’d share some of the comments from readers who say they’re certain they’ve seen footage that support’s Trump’s point -- even if they aren’t generally supporters of him as a candidate. The comments include a wide variety of extra details, many of them divergent from what others said. The emails have been edited for length and clarity, and as is our usual policy for mailbag articles, we are not publishing the readers’ names.

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"I lived in Fredericksburg, Va., on 9/11, and the video I saw was from Dearborn, Mich. They were in the streets across the metro area cheering and celebrating. I’m sure Channel 4 Detroit and Fox News had this footage. I assume this is the footage Mr. Trump saw but didn’t identify the city correctly."

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"Respectfully -- and I'm a pretty liberal Democrat -- Donald Trump is correct about seeing cheering youth driving around on the evening of 9/11 on TV waving what appeared to be PLO flags. In fact, at the time the video was broadcast, there was a black newscaster who was so incensed as this footage was shown that he suggested that some kind of ‘street justice’ would be appropriate. My impression was that this occurred in Manhattan or Brooklyn.  I'll never forget this footage any more than I would forget watching the buildings come down."

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"I saw the same thing on TV, although I can't remember what channel I was watching. Muslims in Paterson, N.J., were shown on the news waving flags and celebrating in the streets on 9/11. Not something I'm going to forget!"

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"There were two news clips that were played immediately after 9/11 in New Jersey with Arab celebrations, and one was played several times. One, to this day, I recall -- an Arab woman with a red headpiece celebrating with others on a rooftop which I believe was in Paterson, N.J. The second was a group of juveniles riding bikes and standing on a sidewalk celebrating, also, I believe, in Paterson. It was not thousands. But it did occur."

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"I heard what happened in New Jersey the next day, on the streets, after 9/11.  I heard the stories about the Dunkin Donuts in Little Falls, N.J., and that little party the mid-eastern types had in the store. Also, the celebration on the streets of Paterson that night."

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"I cannot vouch for thousands in Jersey City cheering. I can say that I was standing in a largely Muslim crowd at the J.C. Motor Vehicle Building and 100 or more cheered at my location when the first tower fell and then again. I've written about this event multiple times over the years and its profound impact on me. Three of the terrorists lived three blocks from my loft. I am a Clinton Democrat who detests Donald Trump and what he stands for. I am very involved with women's rights in the Arab world and America, and I have many Muslim friends. Hearing the cheering on Sept. 11 made me more of an internationalist and not an isolationist. I suspect if you add up all the 50-100 small crowds along the river who cheered, The Donald is right on this one. And there is something wrong with our politically correct gone wild country that we can't talk about the real event that did happen."

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"On Main Ave. near Crooks Ave. between Clifton and Paterson is one area where the cheering took place on 9/11 -- all the locals and merchants are aware. Of course the mayor, police chief and governor are going to deny it -- what do you expect? They don't want New Jersey to look bad. Don't expect anyone to come out of the woodwork to acknowledge it and lose their life because of it now. There are a lot of reporters in the New York-New Jersey area that do remember, but it is politically advantageous to say they have no recollection because they don't like Trump. And there it lies. The media trying to control the elections."

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"Let me start by saying you won't find this information by googling it anymore. Just like the propaganda that came out of Germany during the Second World War, the media now has this hidden from plain view. Let me tell you unequivocally from someone who is NOT a Trump supporter that I saw it on the news as well. The same news channels that now make this a story to follow originally aired the segment of Muslims in the street cheering and yelling. I distinctly remember one in particular with a woman in the forefront screeching like an animal. If you live in New York or New Jersey and saw 9/11 with your own eyes and on television watching people cheer it afterwards, it was something you will never forget. Please go out and get your feet dirty, and I'll bet you find proof."

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"I was in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on 9/11. There were numerous televised news reports of individuals in Cairo, Damascus and other cities celebrating the collapse of the World Trade Center. These reports were televised at the time. These reports, more likely than not, were what Trump remembers. Unfortunately, you didn't mention that in your article. Celebrations? Yes. Celebrations in the U.S.? No. Interestingly enough, there were four Israelis who were arrested after they were seen celebrating in New Jersey. Why the men were celebrating and who they were was never really explained. It is likely that Trump confused all of these events and remembers them wrongly. It was, after all, a confusing time."