At first glance, it’s a scene that happens often at the New York State Capitol: A pair of Democratic state senators posing for a photo with an activist and a large banner after a rally.

But this banner – captured in a photo circulating after a climate change rally Tuesday in Albany – was different.

In warning of the looming threat of a warming planet, the banner included imagery of a plane headed for what appear to be the twin towers of the World Trade Center, evoking the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in Lower Manhattan. It immediately spurred criticism from Republicans who said it was an unacceptable homage.

State Sens. Robert Jackson of Manhattan and Rachel May of Syracuse were shown holding the banner up in the photo alongside an unidentified activist. A Politico reporter posted the image on Twitter Tuesday afternoon, causing it to ricochet around Albany social media circles.

Senate Republicans called on their Democratic colleagues to disavow and condemn the imagery on the banner, which included the words “climate change” on the plane headed for the towers. Further down the banner, a tagline read “Wake up America, 2050 is too late!” – a reference to the state’s plan to cut greenhouse-gas emissions 80% by 2050.

“You have two senators […] who have either a total failure to appreciate the significance of those events 20 years ago, or who are so out of touch that they don’t see the problem of standing behind that banner,” said Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, a Republican from western New York.

The two Democratic senators quickly apologized. Both said they were unaware of what the banner depicted despite posing for a photo with it.

In a series of Twitter posts, Jackson said he “would never support anything that denigrates the memory of all who were impacted by 9/11.”

“As a NYC native who continues to be personally impacted by the events of that horrific day, I sincerely apologize to anyone who might be confused by any political ploy to mischaracterize my actions,” Jackson tweeted.

May took to Twitter to say she posed for “numerous photos with activists” and never saw the “content of the sign.”

Jackson and May were among the several lawmakers who attended the rally outside the Capitol, which was intended to push lawmakers to include $15 billion in climate-related funding in their state budget proposals, which are due later this week.

The rally was organized by NY Renews, a coalition of labor unions, community organizations and other groups committed to fighting climate change.

In a statement posted to Twitter, the coalition denied responsibility for the banner, which served as the backdrop for much of the rally, as shown in various video clips of the event.

“Unfortunately, during our rally, a banner depicting 9/11 was used,” the coalition’s tweet reads. “NY Renews *did not* sanction this image and condemns the use of this image. We apologize to all New Yorkers.”