Opinion: Yes, the lockdown was necessary

I was one of the lucky ones. My fridge was filled with gallons of Odwalla orange juice and lemonade. I had a shelf full of snacks. I am not that guy who has a bunker filled with supplies and survival kits; I am simply the one who was lucky enough to have plenty saved up in his room.

Friday morning came and my phone vibrated with the text that a city-wide lockdown was in effect. Part of me panicked at the thought of staying inside all day, yet another part of me was content knowing my fridge and shelves were ready. Amidst the air of fear and uncertainty, it seemed that the city rallied to cooperate with law enforcement. After a whole day of not knowing what would come next, every news channel reported the capture of the suspect. The city erupted with a sense of relief and accomplishment, knowing things were ready for healing.

Boston was not ready for the tragic events that happened that horrid Monday, but despite the shock, the city was ready to find whoever was responsible. The lockdown was part of the process in restoring stability in a city that had had enough. Although it may have been an inconvenience to many, the lockdown allowed law enforcement to work effectively and swiftly.

Courtesy of Mick Fealty/Flickr

Courtesy of Mick Fealty/Flickr

Courtesy of Online Guide to House Members and Senators/Wikimedia

Courtesy of Online Guide to House Members and Senators/Wikimedia

Despite the clear success of the lockdown, there are some critics who saw it as an unnecessary move by the government. Representative Dutch Rupperberger (pictured right) from Maryland, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, saw the lockdown as a questionable move that gave the world the wrong impression about our response to terrorism. In a more direct tone, a former congressman from New Mexico said it is “hard to imagine what could justify directing the entire population of the city to shelter in place.” Other critics mentioned that to force a city to shut down is a violation of civil rights and intrusive on the part of the government.

The duty of the government is to protect the freedoms of its people. Although there are times the government forgets this duty and even neglects to act upon injustices, on Friday this was not the case. We have the freedom of speech, property and pursuit of happiness, yet when the citizens are in harm’s way the government must act to protect them in such a way that ensures the aforementioned freedoms continue to exist.

By allowing the lockdown to happen, citizens were not giving up their freedoms; instead, they were simply cooperating with the government, which sought to bring an end to the loss of lives. The freedom to go where you please may have been suspended but what good is that freedom in the face of danger and greater chaos?  Critics are quick to speak in hindsight, but what they do not realize is that the lockdown was set in place to protect us, not to violate anyone’s rights or freedoms.

gavel3The lockdown was a preventive measure. It ensured that there were no lives lost in any crossfire or in possible hostage situations. Let’s think back to the instance when law enforcement got a tip that there was something in someone’s backyard. Videos showed hundreds of police and federal agents' vehicles quickly rushing to the scene ready to act on the tip. Now imagine if there was no lockdown. How would hundreds, maybe even thousands, of police cruisers get to the scene in Watertown? Imagine for another second that the tip was given during rush hour and police could not reach the scene in time. Although these are simply hypothetical situations, they allow us to reflect on how the “daily routine” could have been disastrous to the investigation.

It was clear from the day of the crime that the suspects were skilled in many ways including hiding from investigators and squirming out of tough situations. The night when the first suspect was killed, the second suspect managed to get away and elude police for another day. The suspects used neighborhoods and hostages to escape the police and did so effectively for a while.

If the lockdown had never taken place the suspects would have had a sea of cover; they could have used the crowds to evade the police. The lockdown ensured that citizens not only stayed out of harm’s way but also made sure no one was used as cover or a hostage to complicate the situation. The more people remained off87046007

the streets, the easier it was for law enforcement to focus on the suspects and not on potential casualties or hostages.

Courtesy of Matthew Reitman/Flickr

Courtesy of Matthew Reitman/Flickr

Law enforcement may not always use their authority the right way. This was not one of those cases. This was a case of effective police work and decisive action by the government to end the terror that had shocked the city. The lockdown proved to be effective because it struck a vital blow to the suspect’s ability to escape. It sent a message to everyone that the city was ready to act upon those who brought pain to it. The decision by the governor was not born out of fear of the suspects; instead, it was a swift move to ensure that the man suspected of these crimes did not get away with a feeling of accomplishment. Fear was not the factor in locking down the city; what drove the city to remain indoors was a readiness to defend itself at all costs.

The day of the lockdown, many complained about many things that they felt the lockdown got in the way of and argued that it was unnecessary. It is true that not being able to leave was difficult in the sense that it was something new and unknown. Those complaining did not realize that the move to lock down the city was something to be grateful for.

Let’s take a moment and realize that other places in the world do not have the ability to lock down their cities and summon thousands to the rescue. Instead, they are forced to stay indoors because of a crater caused by mortar fire where their welcome mat should be. On that day, we needed that lockdown. We needed our government to do its duty in defending its citizens from danger. The police are meant to serve and protect and on Friday they did just that.

We cannot always point fingers and criticize the government. Where credit is due it must be given. Although we do not have all the answers, we do know that when we expected the government and law enforcement to act they did just that. We did not give up our freedoms. We allowed the government to do its duty to us, the citizens, and that is something to appreciate.

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