Any resistance to lockdown and search?
April 23, 2013 4:36 AM   Subscribe

Boston lockdown filter: During the recent dragnet, have there been any reports of people refusing to permit a police search of their home? Or of people going outside against the 'urgings' of the authorities?
posted by LonnieK to Law & Government (16 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
No one was forced to submit to a search of their home. The police knocked, asked if the resident wanted them to search, and left if they didn't. According to news reports, a lot of people said "No, thanks."

Likewise, there was no legal requirement for people to stay inside, and many people were out on the streets. I live a few blocks from where the shootout was, and there were people out running, walking their dogs, heading to work if they didn't have a choice, etc. You can also see them on the news reports, standing in the background, watching what was going on.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:59 AM on April 23, 2013 [4 favorites]

Mod note: Please limit your contributions to answering the question directly and resist the urge to turn this into a discussion. Thanks.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 5:29 AM on April 23, 2013

Some people did, indeed, leave their homes to go to work. I saw a video (that I now can't find) of students at Harvard cheering for the workers in the cafeteria, who came to work despite the lockdown.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:32 AM on April 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yeah, there were people out in the streets. From what I gathered from friends in various neighborhoods/towns people in Watertown stayed home mostly, but in parts of Cambridge, Belmont, and Boston neighborhoods like Jamaica Plain people were out and about, people in cars, kids playing basketball, etc., especially by the afternoon when people were getting kind of stir crazy. Most businesses were closed but there were some Dunkin Donuts open. (Source: my goody-two-shoes friends complaining about their neighbors being out on Friday.)
posted by mskyle at 5:48 AM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

In one of the MeFi threads about the bombing and its aftermath, bl1nk wrote an account of biking around the city during the 'shelter in place' advisory.
posted by knapah at 5:56 AM on April 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

A friend of mine left his house in Newton for a walk.

It was a recommendation for the safety of the public, not necessarily an order from the government.

The guy who discovered the suspect hiding in his boat was taking his dog out for a pee.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:03 AM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

As a cambridge resident, I can add my voice to those saying: people went out if they wanted to. The streets were fairly empty, but empty like an early sunday morning, not empty like a police state.
posted by celare at 6:45 AM on April 23, 2013 [4 favorites]

I live in Brookline, across from a park and next to a walking path that leads to Beacon Street. There were people out and about throughout the day, in ones and twos. People played catch in the park, or took their dogs for walks. There were a lot less people than there would normally be, but there were definitely people, and they were relaxed, visible and not furtive. There was no police presence during the day, and as far as I know no one was asked to go back inside.

I expect the situation was quite different in Watertown, especially in the area where there was an active manhunt. But in Brookline it was very low key.

This article in the Atlantic discusses the voluntary nature of the stay-at-home request and the more ambiguous nature of the house searches. The Mass ACLU is quoted extensively. They seem generally supportive of what was done, but say that they would like to hear from anyone who feels their rights were violated by the searches. As of the publication of the article it appears they had not heard anything first-hand, but had only received reports from people who thought other people's rights had been violated.
posted by alms at 7:06 AM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I live in Jamaica Plain. My wife and I were out and about for a while in the morning, since she had a doctor's appointment (cancelled because the staff had all stayed home) and we then went for breakfast. The city was full of nervous-looking policemen on street corners, but we were not accosted or harassed. The streets were obviously unusually empty for the time of day, but I saw no signs of the police doing anything other than watching keenly.
posted by Mayor West at 7:06 AM on April 23, 2013

I live in the South End of Boston and I, like many, was out and about on Friday.

Many of the nearby restaurants were closed, presumably because anyone who commutes in by public transportation was unable to get in. Certainly probably lower traffic than a typical Friday, but for the most part people just went about their business. There was a cop on my corner, where one had been kind of stationed and milling about all week since we're near the hospital, but he didn't bother or harass anyone who was going about their business.
posted by CharlieSue at 7:11 AM on April 23, 2013

My workplace in Quincy was open and many employees drove in from Boston to work that day (I don't have a car so I stayed home). At mid-afternoon I went for a walk around Jamaica Plain and Roxbury and there was a fair amount of activity: local businesses open, parents taking their kids to the park, teenagers riding dirtbikes and ATVs down the street, etc. Nothing too unusual for a weekday afternoon, except there were no buses on the streets.

(Also note that the advisory had been lifted by the time the suspect's hiding place was discovered.)
posted by Smallpox at 7:11 AM on April 23, 2013

I believe the "lockdown" aspect of it was a bit overstated by the news, possibly because they were prevented from following the police around and getting in the way. So there aren't many news reports of what was going on behind the lines. From the reporters' perspective, they weren't being let in, so nobody was being let out.

The 4th amendment, like all of them, it not unlimited. The police can enter a home if they have reasonable suspicion and there is imminent danger. But I don't believe they can expand it to a dragnet type of situation, where they can close down a city and search every building without the cooperation of the residents. My understanding is that there has to be a greater justification to search a building than just "suspect spotted in same zip code".

I believe there has to be some kind of emergency declaration from a governor-type to invoke actual lockdown/curfew laws, where people on the streets would be hassled/arrested just for being out.

All that said, I do believe that if a search was consented to, some occupants of homes were required to behave like suspects for the officers' safety. Hands on the head, patdowns, go stand over there kind of stuff. I'm sure it wasn't pleasant, but as long as it was voluntary, it is constitutionally ok.
posted by gjc at 7:18 AM on April 23, 2013

Current Brookline resident here. Speaking as someone who lives outside of the main area of concern (but right along the marathon route), I can confirm that the streets were definitely quieter than normal, but they were not desolate; my husband and I stayed home and indoors, but we saw a few people out and about from our windows. I went out for a run within 5 minutes of the shelter-in-place request being lifted, and less than an hour later all of the local restaurants were filled to the brim and serving, so I suspect that they'd decided to open up before the request was lifted.

I can't speak to Watertown (nor to the house-to-house searches) personally, but I do think that things were more heavily contained there. I heard stories (via Twitter) of people being told that if they left the area they wouldn't be permitted back in, and an ex of mine who lives in the area was unable to get to the hospital to be with his father when he passed away. (That's not to say that he attempted to leave and wasn't permitted, but rather that I don't think he tried to because of how serious the threat was perceived to be. I haven't spoken to him about it personally, so this assumption is based on my knowledge of him and his family, as well as on my perception of events as a local resident.)

My overall impression is that many people were respectful of the shelter-in-place request, but that outside of Watertown in particular, it was taken with a grain of salt. I'm sure it made things easier for the members of law enforcement to have things relatively quiet, and a respect for their work and a desire to make their lives easier was what kept most of the people I know inside, rather than fear. In short, my experience is that while it was generally respected, it certainly wasn't universally followed.
posted by cellar door at 8:07 AM on April 23, 2013

I live in Boston. People were out and about for most of the day, though almost everyone I know stayed close to home. The bakery down the street was open all day and people were coming in and out. Like others have said, it was about a 7am-Sunday-morning level of activity for the neighborhood.

For almost everyone I know, we stayed inside or close to home not (strictly) because of the Governor's request, but because there was a madman throwing bombs in the street the night before and nobody knew where he had gotten off to. Boston's a small city and events in Watertown felt pretty damn close -- for example, every day I ride a bike half an hour to work, and along the way go through Boston, Brookline, Brighton, and Cambridge, and could add Watertown if I went 5 minutes out of my way.

Shutting the T and asking that people stay home helped to (a) normalize our instincts, and (b) gave everyone a near-unassailable excuse for any asshole bosses who wanted to drag the staff into work that day. This last point was less important for me personally because I teach at MIT and we were told in no uncertain terms to not come into work on Friday, but I know lots of folks who appreciated the backup. Honestly, I think half the city was up until 4am watching the crazy unfold in Watertown.
posted by range at 8:39 AM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Waltham resident here (live right on the Watertown border). Nthing it was a request, not a demand. I had a big work project due and really wanted to finish it (I would not have been penalized had I stayed home), and I knew that to get to my job I had to drive west to Rt. 128, away from the scene. So I got in my car and drove to work around 10 a.m., knowing that a) I wouldn't stop for anyone but the police and b) if I did encounter any police, I would do exactly what they asked. It was deserted, like Sunday-morning deserted, but I made it onto Rt. 128 without encountering anyone.
posted by Melismata at 9:10 AM on April 23, 2013

I live in the Melrose/Malden/Medford area, and while we did spend most of the day inside, it was because we were glued to Metafilter and our local news station. Around noonish we gave in to the urge to nom, and I went out on a bakery run. It involved two bakeries, both of which were open, and a Starbucks, also open. There were people out all over - some with kids, some with pets, some joggers, a few bikers. It was a really pretty day, and it was a day off, and everybody wanted to talk to each other - there was a really strong feeling of community and solidarity. I was glad I'd gone out.
posted by kythuen at 6:32 PM on April 23, 2013

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