Kelly GunningFriday,19 April 2013

The Snap:

Boston, MA, is in lockdown. Police have issued an advisory that residents are not to leave their houses nor are they to open their doors to anyone other than uniformed Boston Police officers.

The Download:

The massive manhunt for suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev is now nearing 24 hours in the Metro Boston area.  Since 8am this morning, in Watertown, Cambridge, Waltham, Belmont, Newton, Brookline, and the entire city of Boston, there has been an order to ‘shelter in place’ by authorities, strongly advising against leaving their homes, with specific zones of the cities completely blocked off and forbidden for entry.  Police are actively rerouting the little traffic there is in several areas due to these zones.

The city itself is strangely quiet — more quiet than on any other day, including September 11th, as all branches of law enforcement, from the ATF to the National Guard to local police departments are involved in this expansive search for a single 19 year old terrorist suspect.

Earlier this week, we residents of the metro-Boston area were gung-ho about not letting ‘the terrorists defeat us.’  Now we’re virtually trapped in our homes out of fear.  No information has been provided by any law enforcement agency stating that the suspect is still even in the areas affected by the shelter order.  No information has been provided about any intel regarding additional potential terrorist actions today.  And yet Amtrak has stopped running trains north of NYC ‘indefinitely.’

Since this morning, there have been no major developments in the progress to catch the suspect, nor have there been any additional bombings or even shootings.  Everything is stagnant, hanging as heavily over us all as the humid air preceding the rain we’re scheduled to get tonight.

I want to know WHY.  Why this order?  Why the strict mandate about staying indoors?  Why do all these cities have to grind to a halt because of this one teenager?  Does law enforcement not trust us to be able to identify and report the suspect if someone sees him?  Do they expect us to flock to the lock down zones to await the potential explosions?  Do they think we’re complete idiots?

I can see only two explanations:  either a) the answer is ‘yes’ to that last question or b) they have intel that there is additional major terrorist activity that may be acted upon during a rush hour or at a heavily populated location sometime today.

But they haven’t said anything along those lines.  And one would expect they’d give at least an indication of that.

Two things burn me about the way this is being handled:  a) that the government thinks we’re idiots; b) so much for all the ‘Boston Will Kick Your Ass’ bravado.  It’s bullshit and it shows off the falsehood of Boston’s toughness. It shows that it’s all a front for a bunch of scared people who believe they need the government to keep them safe from a single 19 year old.

Many years ago, I lived in London.  At one point during my years there, the IRA resumed their bombings, most notably with Canary Wharf.  Part of that siege on the city included a member of the IRA bringing a bomb on to a double decker bus and having the bomb go off just outside Trafalgar Square before he managed to get off, killing himself and two other people. Scotland Yard closed down a portion of Central London for the investigation and to ensure no other explosives were set to go off that night.

That wave of terror by the IRA lasted a couple of weeks and included multiple civilian deaths. Yet during those weeks, at no point did the city shut down. My local tube station was closed intermittently for bomb scares, but the Underground kept running. Homes across the city were raided, with suspects hauled off for interrogations, but the neighborhoods in which those homes were situated weren’t on lockdown. People were told to carry on with their daily lives. To change their behavior based on the actions of terrorists would be to hand over a victory to the terrorists themselves.

Now, here in Boston, we’ve done just that:  handed over a victory to the terrorists themselves by restricting our freedom of movement. The MBTA transit system here has been closed — all buses, trains, trolleys, subways — since this morning. For thousands of people, this also means the loss of their ability to earn their income.

In my village of the city, the town center is empty: all shop fronts are dark. No one is out. The only traffic that’s on the roads consists of a few passenger cars, work trucks, and a steady stream of BPD patrol cars. It’s the same, if not worse, in the other villages of the city. Shops everywhere are dark, with no commerce taking place. The economic impact of this one day will be substantial — not only to the employees who can’t get to their jobs or to the small businesses that have been forced to close due to this shelter order, but to the state for the loss of tax revenue.

We here in Boston have altered our entire lives today over the elusiveness of a single 19 year old boy who is suspected of being a terrorist behind the Monday bombings. We here in Boston have shown our true colors — not the black and gold of the board smashing Bruins or the blue and red of the skull crushing Patriots, but the yellow underbellies of cowards who let fear control their lives.

Post Script:

As of Saturday morning, we in Boston were informed that the critical evidence leading to the apprehension of the suspect, namely the owner of the boat in which the suspect was hiding’s discovery of a blood trail to his boat, only came to light after the shelter order was lifted and the boat owner was allowed to leave his home.

It makes me wonder how much sooner the blood trail might have been found had the shelter order not been in place…


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