NEW YORK (PIX11)—A soccer field planned for Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba has many New Yorkers up in arms after learning they would be funding it -- while their own neighborhoods are sorely lacking quality facilities.
Congressman Peter King, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said Wednesday, "It's wrong to be spending that kind of money on terrorists."
Earlier this month, the military revealed the new $750,000 soccer field at Guntanamo funded by taxpayer dollars. There are no goals on it yet, in fact PIX 11 News attained images from members of the Arkansas National Guard's 188th Fighter Wing putting the final touches on another goal in December 2009.
The controversial field is for detainees from Camp 6 at Guantanamo -- alleged terrorists from 9/11 as well as those tracked down in the years since.
"I've been there. I've seen these people on the soccer court and spitting at guards. It's a bad seed," says King, who adds, "To me it's an extravagance."
The military has indicated the field is for highly compliant Al-Qaeda jailbirds. The new field is being rolled out nearly a year after Seal Team 6 commandos tracked down Osama Bin Laden away in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Many believe the luxury of a new soccer field being provided to the prisoners is indefensible.
To put it simply, the hoodlums have better athletic facilities that some of the nation's top high school athletes in our own backyard.
"We are forgotten right here in Brooklyn, no one remembers us," says Dr. Michael Wiltshire the principal at Medgar Evers College Prepatory School in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. The school strives for excellence in the classroom and beyond. The girls track team has done both. They are one of the fastest squads in the country ranked in the top six in the nation.
They also have no athletic facilities.
"This is our hallway and this is where we normally practice. This is what we use as our facilities. This is it," said Co-Head Coach Nicola Martial.
Yet at Guantanamo, a new soccer field for the prisoners?
The juxtaposition for Dr. Wiltshire is disturbing, "That's really a shame that so much benefits are going to them, when we lack these basic facilities, like an athletic field, like a gym, like an auditorium."
Even more disturbing? The very reason the prisoners are at Guantanamo is due to the actions that took place just miles away from the school on the morning of 9/11.
"Right, that is indeed disturbing. That is indeed disturbing. It's shocking. It's appalling, that they're getting those benefits that we so well deserve," said Dr. Wiltshire, and added, "How can I appeal to them to give us something similar? We really should have something similar to what they have."
Stunned at how poorly those at home are being taken care of and the message being sent, Martial made a simple yet poignant statement, "That is something. I hope that they can give us the same time in New York City to spend some on these kids because we do need it."