Family member says she was unfairly tossed from 9/11 ceremony

Every Sept. 11, Alicia Ceballos would wait for a special moment that happened at the World Trade Center site — 2,500 miles away from her home in Colombia.

“I watched the ceremony on television every year waiting for my father’s name to be read,” said Ceballos, a 37-year-old dancer whose father, Juan Armando Ceballos Rivera, was killed in the 2001 terrorist attack.

Ceballos long planned to be in Manhattan in 2021 at the ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of her father’s death. She received her ticket from the 9/11 Memorial Museum and brought a small speaker to play his favorite Andean music from his native Chile.

“I wanted to play the music as they read his name,” Ceballos told The Post in Spanish.

She did not get the chance. Instead she was hauled out of the memorial by cops and taken for a psychiatric evaluation.

A photographer captured the moment Ceballos was taken away, an NYPD officer on one side and a Port Authority cop on the other. The defiant Ceballos was seen trying to knee one of the cops.

She wore a homemade T-shirt with her father’s name that said “9/11 They Should Be Alive Truth and Justice”

Alicia Ceballos Mejia standing in a park at Woodside.
Helayne Seidman

“I have watched a lot of documentaries and read a lot about that day, but I’m not a conspiracy theorist. My purpose was to honor my f ather,” she said.

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Her dad was a 47-year-old deliveryman who was at the World Trade Center making his rounds on the morning of 9/11. He had come to the US in the 1970s and his daughter — who was born here — was living in Chile, going to high school.

Ceballos said the trouble at Saturday’s ceremony started when, to ease her stress, she lit a cigarette. She said a police officer told her to move to a back area near reporters where she started to dance.

“This was the way I wanted to express my terrible grief and I started to do a little dance to honor my father,” she said.

Juan Carlos Ceballos was killed on a delivery in the World Trade Center.
Juan Carlos Ceballos was killed on a delivery in the World Trade Center.
Helayne Seidman

Then a cop grabbed her arm and said “Get out of here,” she recounted.

“I told him that I was the daughter of a victim. They started to grab me and I fought back. I resisted, but more police officers arrived,” she said. “With all my strength, I resisted.”

Ceballos was taken to Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation and then released, according to a document she provided to The Post showing she was cleared to go back to the ceremony.

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But it was too late — she had missed the reading of her father’s name.

“They treated me like a criminal,” she said of the police.

The Port Authority contended Ceballos was being disruptive.

“Port Authority police responded to the individual’s exhibited behavior, which was causing a disturbance. She was not arrested, but was transported to a local hospital for further observation,” PA spokesman Amber Greene said.

Ceballos said she did eventually find comfort when she returned to the memorial and struck up a conversation with a woman, who also spoke Spanish, who was 19 when her boyfriend was killed in the attack.

“We cried together and hugged,” she said. “I have goosebumps about how we met and were able to console each other.”

Additional reporting by Dean Balsamini

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