As background, I live in Jersey City. I was here more than 82 years ago. I have lived and traveled through much of the world. I am a political activist and student of local history. I am a Korean War veteran. I live an active life in local performing arts as an actor and singer. I own a business I started here 22 years ago.
My apartment has great views of the NYC skyline - specifically the WTC Towers then and their replacement now.
On 9/11, some time between 10am and 11am, after watching the 2b=nd plane hit and then seeing the towers fall, I left my apartment and walked to the nearest hospital - maybe two miles away - in an attempt to donate blood. But they were not set up for it. Most of the staff - I was told - had gone down to the waterfront to meet the victims arriving in the flotilla of small boats that were bring there there by the tens of thousands.
So I continued walking around town. I spent a part of my life as a journalist and I was curious to know how people were dealing with this. I did no formal interviews because I had no affiliation or outlet for reportage. But I listened to and spoke with hundreds. I saw tens of thousands lined up facing that horrific vista.
The area around Journal Square - where I live - is where most Middle Eastern people - both Muslim and Christians from that part of the world - live and work. Jersey City - as the second most diverse city of its size in the country - also has significant Indian, Korean, Filipino, African, and other populations. We live and work side by side without racial or religious tension.
The unique geography of our 350 year old city is that we have two general locations that offer spectacular views of the NYC skyline - especially Lower Manhattan - directly across the Hudson River.
Of course there are views of NYC from along the waterfront. But the best views are along the spine of the Hudson Palisades at least 20/25 stories higher than the river. The views to the east are spectacular all along Palisades Ave to the north and its southern alternative, Summit Ave - each named for obvious reference to their respective height and the views.
Due to buildings along streets to the west, no other north/south streets, even those just one block further west, that run parallel (with one minor exception of about 6 blocks) offer any views of the skyline from ground level such as the clear ones along Palisade and Summit Avenues.
I walked Palisade Ave and Summit Ave and some of those interior streets all through the day. Except for buying a sandwich (from a Muslim-owned shop) and occasional bottles of water during the day, I was on one or the other of those streets until just before sundown.
During that time, I saw victims come up from the waterfront to the heights to where they lived - or they came searching for transportation out of the area. Some had blood on their clothing. Some were covered in ash (the famous "ash lady" was one of them and she died only about a month or so ago of that exposure after years battling cancer).
I visited some of our fire houses after hearing of the toll of NYFD. The men were tense and on edge but those stations were crowded with men who were off-duty but who came to their home stations without being summoned and eager to help. I spoke to police stationed in front of mosques to deal with any actions against them. I spoke to the priest at an Egyptian Christian church (often confused with Muslims) who had tried to convince the police guard in front of the building that he was not needed.
If there were any celebrations by people watching the tragedy unfold across the river from those vantage points I would have seen (or heard) of them from the people standing there. I would have heard mention of them. I only heard - later that day - of the rumor (a rumor later proven false) of celebrations in Paterson.
Months later I even saw YouTube video that claimed to be of Paterson (which is pretty much Dominican anyway - with relatively few Middle Easterners) but which obviously was not shot there.
I doubt that Mr. Trump has ever been in Jersey City except to pass through the Holland Tunnel on his way to or from Newark Airport.
You will notice the shift in his language.
First he said he was "in Jersey City" and saw these "thousands" celebrating the fall of the towers. His next statement said he saw it on television.
But both claims are lies.
But none of us who live here in Jersey City saw anything remotely like what he claims. We are no more smart or dumb than anyone else. But this is a tough town and we do not suffer bullshit.
I doubt you will even find anyone here who saw Trump here on 9/11. Entrance to and from NYC was closed - expect by that flotilla of rescuers and victims. Will he now double-down and claim that's how he got here?
Trump is a liar.