Why armed lockdown in Boston after the Marathon Bombings was a bad idea

"A large percent of the reaction in Boston has been security theater," writes Popehat. "'Four victims brutally killed' goes by other names in other cities. In Detroit, for example, they call it 'Tuesday.'...and Detroit does not shut down every time there are a few murders. 'But Clark,' I hear you say, 'this is different. This was a terrorist attack.'


  1. Three civilians dead is a tragedy; one dead cop is a regional emergency.  The same sort of thing happened in LA; thankfully, the Boston police were less trigger-happy, and they didn’t shoot any innocent civilians.  The logic behind the extended lockdown was that no cop wanted to be responsible for letting a cop-killer slip away.  Of course, he was discovered by a civilian almost as soon as the lockdown was lifted.

  2. As much as I think the “lock-down” was an overreaction, I cannot agree that it constituted martial law.  When you looked at the written statements by the Mayor and the Governor, it was a request only.  There was no indication that anyone who went out onto the street would be arrested or dragged back into their homes.  

    1. That’s a pretty fine distinction. “Requests” from the governor and mayor could end up trickling down to “orders” in the hands of the police. It worked out fine this time but that just helps to set the bad precedent.

      1. Hyperbole much? When the mayor requests that people reduce driving on a “Spare the Air” day, does your mind immediately go police confiscating lawn mowers and arresting people for driving? When an amber alert goes out from the government do you worry about being locked up being locked up for not reporting every bit of activity that could in any way be interpreted as suspicious?

          1. English has been moving in the direction of positional grammar for some time, and not necessarily to its detriment.  Sometimes verbing a noun is a good way for it to stretch its legs and meet the neighbours.

          2. Noun –> verb is one of the most common transitions in linguistic evolution.  For example using “contact” as a verb would make you a hypocrite on this point since “contact” was not considered acceptable as a verb until within the last few decades.

            Also, yes, hyperbole.  The cops were out in force and weren’t hassling any of the dozens of people wandering around outside.  I talked to a guy working at a convenience store who said they were asked to close but they must have been playing whack-a-mole on that score because I was able to find stores open all day.

          3. Well I was responding to you.  If you don’t like it I can only suggest that you shut yourself up preemptively.

          1.  How so?  Simply saying so and then saying “if you can’t see the difference…” isn’t an argument.

            As someone subject to the “order” in question I must say it seemed a lot like a friendly non-binding request to me.

        1. YOU are the one guilty of hyperbole here, not to mention comparing apples to watermelons. No one rolls in tanks for an Amber Alert. Some people ARE panicking a bit about this, but to not be concerned at all is just idiocy.

        2.  On “Spare teh Air Day” there are not swat teams going around door to door. And the Mossad isn’t present. So yes, I would say that I am rather relaxed about spare the air, but not so relaxed about the shut down of Boston on Friday. And BTW they caught the perp, due to a boat owner, not due to the massive city shut down and tanks and the police going door to door!

    2.  You know what cops are like. They talk about law and order, but underneath what they care about is order; as far as most cops are concerned, law is something that gets in their way.  And when push comes to shove what cops *really* care about is power.  If anyone had gone out the cops would have had them hogtied and pepper sprayed in no time, “request” be damned.  No way in hell would they have allowed some anarchist who thinks that a manhunt doesn’t trump the Constitution to have roamed around, distracting them.

      1. Cops may/do often suck, but there were people walking around my neighborhood – right by Watertown – and nobody got hogtied or pepper sprayed. 

          1. The whole area was under “lockdown,” but you’re right, I wasn’t in the middle of Watertown. Do you have any reports of cops actually pepper spraying or hogtying? This would certainly change my opinion of the police response.

          2. Where the hell were you? I live right next to the suspect’s house, FBI armored cars, bomb disposal trucks and helicopters were all around, and I walked and biked and no one was hog-tying anyone.

      2. No. I’m trying to be polite here, but this is nothing like what actually happened. Lots of people “roamed around,” including my wife. (I was obsessively refreshing Twitter all day.) She did not report any hogtying. If you look at the news footage of Watertown, you can verify this for yourself: people on bicycles, people on foot, people being interviewed on the street by reporters.

        Don’t let narrative trump reality.

      3. A guy went out for a bike ride in my neighborhood in Cambridge during the lockdown.  You know what bad thing happened to him?  I thought “asshole” in his general direction as he rode off.

      1.  No, that’s exactly right.  Cops were not hassling people or ordering them back to their homes.

    3. Except for the elderly man who dared in the first few hours of the lockdown to defy the governor’s “request” and was promptly tackled by an officer who imagined that he saw a “dead man’s switch” in the man’s hand.

      He was held at riflepoint in handcuffs, in the middle of the street, for around two hours until several robots were called in to remove his jacket, at which point they discovered… nothing. I’m sure his story (or lawsuit) is just around the corner.

      So yeah, I’d say that sent a pretty clear message that anyone who went into the street ran the risk of being arrested.

    4. Laura, I have to disagree.  People were arrested for being out of their homes, and others were dragged OUT (not back into) their homes, with their hands on their heads, at gunpoint as the police conducted warrant-less (if not “illegal”) searches of their homes.  Perhaps you have not seen the video footage of these actions on YouTube.

    5.  Except for all the rifles pointed directly at people!

      I don’t know what YOU define Martial Law is…

    6.  The was just a high risk they might be assaulted, including being thrown to the ground, kicked whilst down there, attacked with chemical weapons, electrocuted and possibly after all that shot because they feared being prosecuted for what they had done.
      YEP, just look how empty the streets were, all cowards have learnt their lessons well. They have seen protesters, ‘PUNISHED’, with false arrests often enough, to know exactly what will happen to them in the land of slaves and the fearful.

  3. As someone living within basically a mile of all the events in Cambridge, I wasn’t too upset about the “lockdown”.  They had someone they were looking for, so keeping people off the streets enabled the cops to get around a bit better and kept a lot of soft targets in their homes.  

    Now, if they didn’t have someone they were looking for, the lockdown would have been a waste.  And there wasn’t going to be a second day of lockdown – that just wouldn’t have flown particularly well.  When a devastating storm comes, we have some time to prepare, unlike with this event.  Everyone would have ignored it.

    And I can’t imagine I was the only person to think,”Hey, all the cops are in Watertown today, good time to knock over a bank.”  (Note to NSA: I didn’t knock over anything, promise).  So keeping everything closed, while overkill, probably wasn’t the worst solution.

    that being said, it’s not like I stayed in the house cowering – there was a small “lockdown” party that was quite nice.  

    1. And I can’t imagine I was the only person to think,”Hey, all the cops are in Watertown today, good time to knock over a bank.” 

      Breaking into a heavily-alarmed building and trying to crack a high-security safe when the only ones that would be on the street are the cops and you? Good luck with that. 

  4. I think it’s saying day-to-day crime in Detroit is the same as a terrorist attack at an international sporting event is a false equivalency. Also, the shelter-in-place request came *not* in response to the attack itself, but to the mayhem that happened Thursday night in Watertown. The surviving suspect had unknown quantities of explosives and guns/ammunition, they didn’t know where he was, and he’d already shown indifference to human life. 

    1. Even more:

      “Third, keeping citizens off the street meant that 99% of the eyes and
      brains that might solve a crime were being wasted. Eric S Raymond
      famously said that “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow”. It was thousands of citizen photographs that helped break this case, and it was a citizen who found the second bomber. Yes, that’s right – it wasn’t until the stupid lock-down was ended that a citizen found the second murderer:…”

      So…it’s okay to risk an average citizen’s life to find a gunman on the loose instead of letting trained (at least somewhat, depending on which branch you’re talking about) professionals who *volunteered for the job* and *were being paid to risk their lives* do it?

      As for the citizen photographs from Monday…those citizens who happened to be there were showing up for a scheduled event that they were likely to want to photograph. How lucky. There was no warning that they could potentially die or lose a limb or two in the bargain. On Friday, it was well known that the second bomber was on the loose, and that he was out to harm people. There’s just no comparison between the two instances.

      As for the guy who discovered the kid hiding in the boat, that was just plain luck. I think nobody would have looked as closely at that boat and noticed something amiss besides the owner himself. I’m sure there’s many a policeman, fireman, or war vet who can tell you how easy it is to miss stuff when you’ve been on the job for more than 12 hours straight. Gimme a break.

    2. Nonetheless, the lockdown request was a bullshit request. It added zero to security and added inordinately to authority’s sense of power over everybody. Terrible things happen in the world and they always will, but that’s no reason to stop living. Before Britain drank the security Kool Aid, post-Thatcher, they adamantly (and proudly) went about their “business as usual” during the height of the IRA bombings in the 1970s. WTF is wrong with people?! You are more at risk from driving than from terrorism. Hell, you’re more at risk from bacon. You are more likely to die falling out of bed than as a victim of terrorism. And I say all this with no intent to belittle the tragic loss of life in Boston. You live in a violent country… but even if terrorists killed 100,000 Americans a year, it would take 3,000 years to wipe you all out. Get some perspective, or at least get a sense of probability and statistics, for chrissakes!

      1. This, a thousand times this.  And to add injury to insult, imagine the next time somebody (say, an alienated, disaffected teenager who decides to maybe go out with a splash), for whatever reason motivates either actual political or religious-based terrorism, or apolitical mass homicides, decides to arm himself and go out in a blaze of glory.  Suppose this guy doesn’t content himself with taking a few guns and magazines to school or his workplace.  Suppose the guy thinks to himself, “If I just whip a quick IED on a relatively crowded public venue… I could shut the whole city down..”

        This was an astonishingly bad precedent.

        1. The IEDs did not shut the city down. The city didn’t shut down until the Tsarnaevs’ Wild Ride down Mount Auburn, lobbing multiple explosives and firing hundreds of rounds from assault weapons. That’s not the same as “whipping a quick IED”.

          Try to keep that in your head, please. We had three days of perfect normalcy before things went nuts.

      2. We went calmly and happily about our business after the bombings. It was only after the Tsarnaevs careened from Cambridge to Watertown in a stolen car, throwing bombs out the windows and firing “long guns” at pursuing cops, that the authorities asked us to take a snow day and stay inside — unless, you know, you need to pick someone up from work, or you’re out of diapers. This was not day-to-day living in fear of terrorism; this was one specific, desperate dude hiding in a small suburb with an unknown quantity of explosives and assault weapons.

        So, yes, for twelve hours out of our lives we stayed inside — not because we were scared, at least for my part, but because we wanted this asshole caught, and turning the area around him into a ghost town while a few thousand cops combed through it was likely to do that. Yes, it turned out he was grievously wounded and hiding in a boat, but if he’d been hale and hearty and running around town he’d’ve stuck out like a sore thumb. We can discuss the extent of the shutdown — I don’t think there was any reason to extend it as far as they did — but the principle was fine.

        I don’t know where you’re sitting to do your from-a-distance high-horsing right now, but if you don’t live in Boston step the fuck off. We caught the fucker, and we caught him alive.

        1. ..if you don’t live in Boston step the fuck off. We caught the fucker, and we caught him alive.

          You’re not a war hero because a criminal was caught in your town.

          1. No, I’m a war hero because I didn’t spend all those years playing Dungeons and Dragons without learning a little something about courage.

      3.  Chases are dangerous.  Bombs are dangerous.  They were chasing dudes with an unknown quantity of bombs.  It certainly made sense to issue a shelter in place order (can we please stop calling it “lockdown”?  That’s the bullshit media narrative but it doesn’t bear much resemblance to reality) for Watertown and Cambridge — and at first that’s as far as the order went.  After a few hours of this nonsense they issued the order for the city of Boston as well which wasn’t even a big deal since the subway was already shut down which means many people couldn’t get to work anyway.

        The Boston metro area is also quite small geographically — much smaller than Detroit or all the other metro areas that are being compared in terms of crime.  The comparisons don’t make sense.  We’re a city of a half-million people living in about 100 sq miles.  Of course we don’t have as much crime as NYC or DC or Detroit.

        The small area also helps to justify the order.  Boston’s probably about the size of some neighborhoods in Chicago.

    3. Well, elevating the tragic and brutal deaths of 3 Americans to celebrity status while the US government does this on a daily basis in (insert the name of your chosen country here) is a bit of overkill and copyrighted American exceptionalism, dontchathink?

  5. A lot of the people outside of Boston interpreted the lockdown as some kind of fascist police action.  From here, it felt like cooperative public safety.  No one ordered anyone to do anything.  If you wanted to go out, you could.  If you wanted to drive somewhere (except with a specific 20-block radius), you could.  People stayed home so that we could all be safer, and so that the bombers could be caught (and remember we didn’t know then how many there were, how many bombs there were, what else might be coming).

    1. Sorry, from someone who’s seen a lot worse crime and violence in many urban areas of the US over the past 50 years, this completely over-the-wall reaction by the cops, law enforcement, Obama, the media, is fascism 21st century style.  Telling people to “get back inside” from armed cops is not a fucking “request.”  Murdering a suspect and revoking Miranda rights and convicting in the media prior to trial is not democracy, it’s totalitarian, authoritarian fascism.  We now live in a police state, in large part because of fucking ass-kissing Americans who kowtow to the continuing erosion of civil rights and constitutionally guaranteed individual and collective rights, lame-ass materialism junkies who could care less about the intrinsic rights of human beings so long as they have their Dungeons and Dragons and endless array of electronic toys and mindless entertainment drivel.

      Anyone who champions the police-state tactics of the past week and across America over the past several decades is a fascist collaborator and facilitator.  Hope you’re on the front lines with your video games in hand when the real revolution comes a-callin.’

  6. Horseshit. Utter horseshit.  There were three events in the last six months that shut down public transit and required people to stay in place. Two involved the weather.

    Fucking Californians. If a snowstorm hit LA or the Bay Area it would kill you all.

    1. Bwah ha, and when you east coasters come out west you die from the sun. Literally, every year there are at least 10 that die from the sun.

      1. Because it explains why they issued that request and why us Massholes complied with it. This winter there was a blizzard, and the governor issued a blanket “GTF off the road” order (order, not a request) in order to get the plowing and utility repairs done as quickly as possible. And people complied, because we wanted the plowing and line work done as quickly as possible. 

        This shelter-in-place thing kept us from our normal activities, which meant it kept us from getting into the usual level of trouble requiring police assistance: road accidents, traffic, et cetera. So I spent that day listening to my town’s police depart race around to address calls in neighboring towns so those neighboring towns could send their cops to do this manhunt, and scour Boston for possible remaining bombs.


    2. The bay area doesn’t get snow; of course it’s not equipped to deal with
      it. But pretty much anywhere on the East Coast is screwed in the case of
      a decent-sized earthquake, so….? Us Californians living in the mountains where we can and do get six feet of snow over a weekend always seem to manage, and they never seem to shut down all the roads and transportation. How apropos of nothing.

  7. Martial law? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2y8Sx4B2Sk
    I’m sorry, I’d be willing to keep off the streets if someone who was known  to blow up people, murder people in their cars, carjack vehicles, have running gun battles, run down siblings and engage grenade fights was very likely still in the area.

    People want to fit this into the security theatre narrative. I dislike security theatre as much as the next guy, but there are genuine dangerous situations out there. I cannot see how the police asking people to voluntarily stay inside in this case is unjust.

    1.  Agreed.

      To paraphrase: “The suspects are intent on harming citizens…”

      I remember this phrase was repeated often on Friday, and it was true.

    2. At the risk of sounding like a swingin’ sackful of misplaced testosterone and internet bravado, I think this was an incredibly bad idea.  “Unjust,” no, not really.  Far as I could tell from California, it was phrased as a request.  The image of the door-to-door house searches was certainly not something we looked forward to seeing in this century, and I have an uncomfortable feeling that, had I been resident in Boston at the time, I’d be currently locked up for, I dunno, whatever they’d call it when I wasn’t sufficiently cooperative.  And yeah, a bunch of ya would think I had that coming for being such a goddamned nuisance in the face of a public menace.  Lives at stake and all that.
      But I don’t know what your cops are like.  I have a bit of a sense of what mine are, out here in L.A.  Last time we had a big-ass manhunt, not after a 19-year-old amateur but after a former cop who also happened to be a decorated Navy rifle marksman and pistol expert, our fine gentlemen in blue fired 100 rounds into the truck of two ladies on a paper route.  And the Torrance team did the same to some hapless surfer.

      Maybe that’s a good argument for staying inside when the cops have somebody out there they’d like to catch.  Maybe they just fire everything they’ve got into all directions at once and then hope that The Bad Guy is among the things that fall down in the aftermath.  But I’ve lost interest in making their jobs easier, since they have trouble succeeding at making my life safer.  Or even trying.

      I wanna know what was the motivation behind the Tsarnaevs’ actions.  I’ll be supremely disappointed if it turns out to be garden-variety religious extremism.  But whatever their point was supposed to be, it’s kinda lost behind the fact that now that we’ve had two ostensibly ordinary dudes who very possibly had no military training whatsoever, and who were able to cobble together two moderately destructive devices and managed to place them and successfully detonate them where civilian casualties resulted, resulting eventually in the paralysis of the 21st largest city in the U.S. and the mobilization of what appeared to be the entire state’s complement of peace officers… now that their acts of violence succeeded so spectacularly well at drawing attention and gripping a proud city in a paroxysm of fear and uncertainty, you can bet your last donut holes that some other jackasses will pull this kind of stunt in the future.  Be they suicidal religious fanatics or secular psychopaths who desire a spotlight for their mayhem, they now know that we’re gonna hunker down under our beds and let our ordered day get knocked completely out of whack until Johnny Law or the National Guard or Chuck Norris finds these villains and cleans their clocks for us.

      Jesus.  You think nobody’s ever gonna fuck with us again since one of these losers got shot and run over and the other one got shot up and arrested?  Don’t we all realize that we let these guys succeed at whatever the fuck they were trying to accomplish?  And that we’ve shown just how easy it is for anyone with a tool shed, an internet connection, and a grudge to kick Uncle Sam square in the nuts?

      1. Once again, some people said, “No, you may not search our house; he is not here” and they were fine. We actually like our cops in Boston.

      2. It doesn’t make sense to me, Donald, to argue that terrorism is rare in this country and the odds that the citizenry will be asked for its cooperation on a city-wide scale are very low — AND — that it makes sense to refuse cooperation with the authorities in that event, because it *might* set an ugly precedent.

        It’s been awhile since I took logic, but your argument seems to me to be a ‘rolling stone’ fallacy.  From what I’ve seen making the news, it isn’t all that hard to earn or pay for a lot of media attention.  Very few among the millions of people (and billions of opportunities) do harm or cross the line to mass murder to achieve a goal.  We’re as safe as we ever were, maybe safer, and if asked to stay in my house during a manhunt, I will.  I have no interest in make the police’s job any harder and more dangerous, by refusing and striking a blow for the freedoms I already have, to prove a point that hasn’t been challenged.

        1. I never took a logic class, and I’m having trouble finding a reference to a “rolling stone” fallacy on the internet, so I’m not sure what you mean.  I’m not saying that everyone oughta tell the cops to go sit & spin when they’re ostensibly out there risking life & limb on behalf of us innocent taxpayers.  People wanna cooperate, god bless ’em, just as long as they realize that they’re gonna have to get used to this.  Because my overall point was that Boston reacted exactly as the Tsarnaevs would have hoped in their wildest dreams of terror optimism.  I don’t believe Londoners reacted thus to IRA bombings in the 1970s, did they?  So I find it more than plausible that, in a socio-political climate that includes suicide bombers and mass murderers who do not intend to surrender alive, we have shown that a maximum of terror can pretty easily be achieved with a minimum of training, effort, and resources.

          Now municipal police forces will think it reasonable to bring an entire state’s complement of sworn officers and all the military-grade hardware they can buy with what used to be the Parks and Libraries budgets, and conduct house-to-house searches while all SWATted up in their anti-terror gear looking for the next loser who managed to kill more than one person with something other than an NRA-approved projectile weapon.

          I sure do hope I’m wrong about this.  After spending a few hours watching the news the morning of 9/11/01, I went ahead and went to work.  Of course, I was about the only one who showed up that day, but I really didn’t want to spend the day locked to the tube, watching the world change and mourning our lost innocence and all that.  I really just wanted to hurry up and get to the point where we acknowledged what had happened and got on with life.  Because as far as I could see, the world hadn’t changed.  Our perception of it had.  And so then we, Americans, we changed the world.  And not for the better, not by a long way.

          1. One Tsarnaev is dead and the other can’t speak.  When did we start assigning both their wildest terrorist dreams?  I don’t know what they’re motives were  — do you?  And I’m not willing to let the media tell me, to sell news print and fill air time.  I’m not even willing to let an old friend tell me.  I’m waiting and seeing.  When he finally tells us, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be lame.  He’s nineteen.

            We were sitting in a bar watching the hunt on t.v., when the dogs starts to bay; they had him treed.  I was really hoping he’d commit suicide; he had plenty of opportunities, but he didn’t.  That failure alone tells me how really young he is and how little the two of them thought through what was going to happen after detonating those bombs. I doubt if they considered the glory of shutting down an entire city, with authorities hunting their punk asses.  I sat back and thought of little else but how thoroughly and utterly fucked that kid’s life would be, the moment the police got him into custody. Do you remember being nineteen?  How completely could you have worked out in advance all the consequences for such an act?

            The information for building an IED has been on the internet for many years, and our country has many people living here who are angry with our government and its policies  Instead of worrying about what will inevitably happen next, why not take comfort in what hasn’t happened for the many years up until Boston, and assume nothing much has changed?

          2. I’m disgusted by the monstrous effort by society and the media to turn this (and every other incident) into an epic narrative in which everyone is assigned to the role of villain or hero.

          3. I read what you had to say and still agree with your “friend” Donald of the Peterson Clan. He has temporarily won me as his sock puppet for the off the reasons of him being right. Our ideals of Patriotism are didifferent if you want to tackle Terrorism, figure outwhy these bum holes are here in the first place. But i leave that for another day as you seem not to be ready for handling information outside your comfort zone.

          4.  I have been unable to figure out if this is a rant or a sudden stroke of genius but Garsh Darn if I don’t fully agree with this Donald of the Peterson Clan.  As an Iraq Vet, this lock down was completely unnecessary.   We dealt with bigger bombs and greater threats and never, ever had a population cower like the citizens of Boston did.   Most Terrorist understand that when they pull something like this, the gubament is surely going to over react, spend more money, enact more laws, steal more civil liberties all in the name of pretending to do something about it.  It blows out the foundations of American “Freedom”  and is causing the philosophy of this nation to implode before our eyes.   So yes, I agree with Donald they succeeded in terrorizing the city of Boston, which is ironically the objective of a “terrorist”.  Now that you know other murderers are out and about in your city, maybe you guys can take another week off work or something. 

          5. Are you aware, one off commenter, that we have a low opinion here on BB of sock puppets?

            I’m going to go with ‘rant’ to characterize your reply.  You’re accusing the city of Boston of cowardice for their complicity; their only motive must have been fear.  It couldn’t have been patriotism, a sense of civic responsibility, maturity, a desire to do the right thing in the absence of skills that would lend themselves to the capture instead of just getting in the way, or having the skills but not wanting to come off as a vigilantes, or how about just controlled and righteous anger?  Where is your evidence that the city of Boston was cringing in fear?  Where is your evidence that that was the motive of these two alledged bombers?  Let’s wait for due process, martech909, and for the surviving Tsarnaev to make some kind of statement, before painting the tragedy to suit one’s own cynical view of our country and its people.

            And before you stick your nose into a back pages debate between friends on this forum,  please be sure what you have to offer is in fact supportive.  You didn’t do Donald any favor.  He’s by far the best strategist here.

  8. Well, this is the place that considers LEDs to be explosive. I’d be surprised if they didn’t over-react.

      1. LED was not a typo. Daemonworks was referring to this – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Boston_bomb_scare

  9. Since the outcome of the crakcdown was successful, it will be looked at as the model reaction for future incidents. There’s no turning back now.

    1. It wasn’t actually successful in finding the guy, though. But as others have pointed out, this wasn’t some sort of martial law.

      1. I wonder what would’ve happened if Tsarnaev hadn’t been wounded and suffering massive blood loss. He made it (just) outside the cordon as it was, and there were police radio reports that he was running south, toward the river, behind the Arsenal Mall. If he’d swum the Charles and made it into my neighborhood, keeping the streets clearish and the MBTA shut down could’ve made a real difference.

        On the other hand, I spent the afternoon convinced that he’d stolen a car, and the owner hadn’t reported it because they were staying inside all day and hadn’t had a chance to check on it.

  10. What I’d like to see to ‘determine’ (for myself) whether this was a good idea or not is a map, with the search area being searched by police indicated as well as the entire area that was ‘locked down’. The way I see it (not being there) is akin to shutting down ALL of Toronto while searching for a suspect in Scarborough. I certainly would not stand for that…
    (Scarborough being a suburb of the city of Toronto)

    1. Map

      I don’t know exactly what the area swept by police was but you can see Watertown just west of Cambridge.  Public transit extends into Cambridge/Somerville in the north (both abutting Watertown) and west all the way into Newton (just south of Watertown).  Boston is a small city and they weren’t much more than a 30 minute drive from downtown.  Also note the shelter in place order didn’t extend to the city of Boston until like noon or so.  I assumed the police had lost track of where the guys were and in such a case there was a real risk they’d get into the city.

  11. Exactly. We live less than a mile from the area of the shootout and manhunt. My wife had a folk dance weekend to get to, so she went for a drive before the shelter-in-place was lifted. Plenty of people were out biking, walking around, driving, and police weren’t harassing anybody.

    New Englanders are pragmatic, and we respect first responders. The cops said they needed clear streets for a few hours; most of us said, “Yeah, sure.” For the week between the bombings and the actual firefight, everybody went about their business.

    (Intended to be a reply to Kevin Foley.)

  12. On Friday there was a mass murderer at large in Boston with an unknown inventory of bombs and guns.  As such, police requested that people stay off the streets, and Bostonians willingly did. 

    There’s a difference between that very specific and situational REQUEST and a requirement that you go around in your sock feet right now because somewhere in the world, someone may or may not want to someday somehow attack this beacon of freedom.

    This is not a trivial difference. 

    Threat profile on Friday in Boston-
    Who: Dzhokar Tsarnaev
    What:  Shoots people or blows them up
    How:  With an unknown number of guns and what seems like a limitless supply of bombs and grenades
    Where:  The streets of Boston 
    What to do:  We ASK that you stay off those streets until we get him

    Threat profile everyday at the airport-
    Who: Someone (maybe you!). Or not.
    What:  Some kind of attack, or not
    How:  With underwear or box-cutters or guns or alarm clocks or something or not
    Where:  Anywhere.  Or nowhere.  Maybe here!  But maybe not.
    What to do:  Take off your shoes or you will be detained.

  13. It is common in the military for those in authority to phrase orders as requests out of courtesy. They remain orders. It is unclear to me whether orders-phrased-as-requests by the civil authorities remain orders. I suspect that they do.

    1. In this instance, though, it was a request. I walked around in my neighborhood, many others did the same. People were driving around, there were people out with their dogs. I live less than a mile from Watertown, and the police saw this and didn’t care. I don’t trust cops very much as a general rule, but here they were not ordering people off the streets or into their homes. 

      1. Yep. I know people within the cordon who told the cops who knocked on their door not to come in, because they’d already searched their house themselves. No problems that I know of. These were actual requests, for the most part, not “Papers, please.”

  14. The commentors are correct, the authoritiees were very clear that this was a “request.”

    And yet, the police knew (at least for one day) whhat these people looked like, and it turned out they *weren’t* fleeing – Dzhokhar even went to class afterwords. But (correct me if my timeline is off) they released their pictures publicly, and then the suspects panicked and fled and committed more crimes, and they locked down a city at a cost of several lives and hundreds of millions of dollars.

    I live in Boston. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they’re no longer at large, and I expect the (civilian) courts will deal with them appropriately. And maybe the response was necessary from a larger point of view of “Don’t even try planning something like this.” But so far I’m only half convinced.

  15. And the reason that they couldn’t do the manhunt without the lockdown was for optimal law enforcement utilization? What happened to the FBI, CIA, DHS? Have them deal with the “manhunt” and then have the BPD to protect any innocent citizens that get hurt and deal with anyone stupid enough to be on the streets causing trouble during all of that police activity. A lockdown, just like in the case of the recent LA cop killer fiasco, only makes the bad guy hide better. 

  16. I’ve heard some commentary that Londoners are made of sterner stuff, and got through the aftermath of the London subway bombings without a lockdown.  London transit police shot and killed a completely innocent Brazilian immigrant, who made the mistaken of commuting to work while brown, during their manhunt.

    I would be inclined to think that all the skinny young men with prominent noses and curly dark hair who weren’t gunned down when mistaken for the fugitive may be grateful for the voluntary lockdown.

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