News Release

Boston Bombings: Reflection from Watertown


JOSEPH GERSON, jgerson at
Gerson is director of programs for the American Friends Service Committee in New England. He said today: “It’s been an interesting 18 hours, since we heard the helicopters overhead. I live in Watertown, about a mile and a half from the 20-block area which has been the focus of the manhunt.

“I’ve been in war zones in the past — three times in Beirut during the civil war — and there’s no sense of danger like that. There was the firefight last night but silence today. I have no inside knowledge, but with the decision to close down Boston this morning, there is apparently some thought that Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev may have escaped the intense manhunt here, and finding him in Boston would — I think — be much more difficult.

“As I listen to the news, it’s not at all clear what these kids were thinking. The Chechen roots are interesting, but from what we’ve heard so far, no connections to anything beyond themselves. Many of us had planned to join a candlelight vigil initiated by Boston’s Islamic leaders as a show of solidarity and to amplify the message of no targeting or abusing innocent people.

“In many ways it feels like sitting out a New England blizzard without the snow.

“Certainly the police and other authorities are doing their best — sometimes courageously — to protect the community. That said, listening to local NPR almost non-stop since 6 a.m. and watching soldiers and police search through our yards in search of Tsarnaev, I find myself hoping that one of the consequences of this perhaps over-stated crisis is that it will not reinforce the culture of fear which has been developing in this country over the last several decades. Fear is the most fertile soil for fascism.”