BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — The mournful sound of a lone bagpiper playing “Amazing Grace” filled the air at City Hall on Friday, as police officers, firefighters, union members and other dignitaries paid tribute to the 28 workers killed in the L’Ambiance Plaza tragedy 29 years ago.
“This day is and always will be about the victims,” said U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4th District). “We owe it to their families … to say, again and again, we won’t forget.”
On April 23, 1987, L’Ambiance Plaza, a $17 million, 16-story apartment complex under construction not far from City Hall, collapsed, killing 28 men and injuring several others.
The project was being built using the lift-slab method, in which workers created the concrete floors on the ground and then lifted them into place. The method has never made a comeback in the United States since the L’Ambiance disaster.
Some of Friday’s speakers, including Himes and U.S. Sen Richard Blumenthal, said they believe the lift-slab method should have been banned well before the 1987 collapse. The tragedy shined a light on the way the country must protect its labor force from the forces of greed, speed and profit, they said.
“We need to (rededicate ourselves) to make sure the greed and failure of L’Ambiance never happen again,” Blumenthal said. “We mourn the dead, but we fight like hell for the living.
“I still think there should have been more prosecution, more action.”
Thomas Wilkinson, president of Local 371 and the Fairfield County Labor Council, AFL-CIO, called on the city to create an area in the public library where researchers and students could learn more about disaster and its aftermath.
Mayor Joe Ganim said he hoped to have that in place by the 30th anniversary next year.
The crowd followed the bagpiper to the L’Ambiance Plaza memorial on the corner of Lafayette Boulevard and Golden Hill Street. There, firefighter Lamont Jones rang a fire bell as the names of the dead were read.
“We can’t change the past,” said state Sen. Marilyn Moore, “but we must remember those people we lost that day.”
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