It's mostly business as usual on Wall Street

Beefed-up security forces greet workers

traders `concerned but focused'

Threat Of Terrorism

August 03, 2004|By Susan Harrigan | Susan Harrigan,NEWSDAY

NEW YORK - They were urged by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to "go about their business" - and that's exactly what people who make their living on Wall Street say they will do.

One day after a government warning that the New York Stock Exchange is on a new list of possible terrorist targets, workers in the symbolic heart of global capitalism said yesterday that they weren't afraid to come into work.

"If you don't come in today, you might as well stay home for the rest of your life," David Lee, manager of trade processing at Morgan Stanley, said as he walked up Wall Street to his office.

"I'm not going to lose my life and freedom because of what happened" on Sept. 11, 2001, Lee said, adding that his determination stems from the loss of a mentor that day.

"I live my life," he said, "not just for me, but his family."

Each day that Bob Dolin shows up to work he's confronted with a vivid reminder of a much older terror attack inflicted upon Wall Street.

Just behind his newsstand across the street from the stock exchange is a limestone wall pocked with holes left by an explosion that occurred in 1920. Anarchists detonated a horse cart filled with dynamite outside the "House of Morgan," killing 36 people and leaving scores more wounded.

Yesterday, Dolin said that he wasn't worried "any more than usual" by the news that the exchange is one of five potential al-Qaida targets identified Sunday by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. "It's just a threat, and I ignore these threats," said Dolin, who was at work when the hijacked airliners crashed into the World Trade Center. He escaped from debris clouds by ducking into a friend's brokerage.

But for all the talk, it wasn't just another typical day on Wall Street. As workers arrived before the opening of trading, they were greeted by beefed-up security forces, including additional units of the city's Hercules Team, a special anti-terrorist unit wearing helmets and body armor and toting assault rifles.

Roadblocks of pickup trucks closed streets leading into the financial district, and police cars with flashing lights were parked on sidewalks. A police dog named Clipper, an expert at detecting weapons, according to his handler, focused on passers-by.

On adjacent streets, police stopped delivery vehicles, including a Coca-Cola truck, whose driver was ordered to roll up its bright red sides, revealing rows of bottles. A sport utility vehicle seeking to enter a garage under a tall building on Pine Street was checked by police while its driver fumed.

Offering a decidedly different perspective on Ridge's warning, Joel Meyers, a member of a group called No Police State Coalition held up a bright pink banner in front of Trinity Church that stated: "Bill of Rights under Attack, Repeal the USA Patriot Act."

"The anti-terrorist attack is a hoax," he shouted.

On the exchange's floor, members watched and listened as Bloomberg and New York Gov. George E. Pataki rang the opening bell before plunging into trading.

Traders were "concerned but focused," said floor broker Robert H. McCooey Jr. "Once people get in here, you just have to check your fear at the door."

A few blocks away late in the morning, Marina Stanislavsky, a worker at American International Group, took a cigarette break and told how she, too, had been caught in the Sept. 11 attack and walked home through the dust clouds.

"Whatever is going to happen is going to happen," said Stanislavsky, 24, of Staten Island.

While she isn't afraid, she said, "I told my fiancee, `I love you'" before going to work yesterday. "He said, `Oh, stop.'"

Newsday is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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