Was Boston Actually on Lockdown?

What "shelter in place" really means

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Bill Sikes / AP

Kristin Sullivan woke at 1 a.m. Friday to the sound of dozens of police cars careening past her home on the border of Cambridge and Watertown in Massachusetts. “We are all jumpy after everything that happened at the Boston Marathon,” Sullivan said. “When the first suspect was apprehended, it was only a mile away from our house — right near the local hardware store.”

That suspect was Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed in Watertown after a firefight with police. His brother Dzhokhar, the other main suspect in the bombings, escaped, setting off what Governor Deval Patrick called “a massive manhunt.” In his announcement Friday morning, Patrick said “we are asking people to shelter in place.” Life, for the time being, would have to be lived at home and under siege.

By early Friday morning, the streets of Watertown and Cambridge were deserted, and life in Boston, a major American city, had ground to a standstill. Throughout the day, the media described residents complying with a “lockdown order,” but in reality the governor’s security measure was a request.

(PHOTOS: Ghost Town: Users Share Photos of Boston on Lockdown)

“The lockdown is really voluntary, to be honest with you,” says Scott Silliman, emeritus director of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security at Duke Law School. “The governor said he wants to use sheltering in place. Sheltering in place is a practice normally used if you’re dealing with a pandemic, where you’re telling people, ‘You may have been exposed and we want you to stay exactly where you are so we can isolate everything and we’ll come to you.’”

The “shelter in place” request is legally different from a state of emergency, which Patrick declared earlier this year as winter storm Nemo descended on the Bay State. Patrick imposed a travel ban, threatening a penalty of up to a year in prison and a large fine if people were found on the roads. Massachusetts suffered very few fatalities during the storm.

When it came to keeping the public off the streets on Friday, an order, it seems, wasn’t needed. “When the governor suggested in light of last night’s events that we have an armed subject on the loose who is very dangerous, who has committed murder, I believe the citizens of the commonwealth, in the hopes of helping law enforcement, voluntarily stayed off the streets,” Massachusetts State Trooper Todd Nolan told TIME. “This is a request that the public stay inside and they are adhering to it. There has been no law mentioned or any idea that if you went outside you’d be arrested.”

Legal experts agree that the request has been effective. “If there’s a person running around with explosives in a major population center, it wouldn’t be that surprising that the response of authorities would be to ask people to not be outside,” says David Barron, a professor of public law at Harvard Law School. The heightened risk to the public, given the violence that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is already alleged to have inflicted, made officials feel the shelter in place request was necessary, but such measures might not be the standard response to every future terrorism manhunt. “If the idea is somehow that the model for how to respond–when there’s any kind of suspect on the loose related to terrorism, they’ll be telling a place to be completely shut down–that seems not at all likely,” Barron says.

Even if Patrick had felt an order was necessary, or if the situation continues, the Massachusetts state constitution empowers Patrick to take steps to ensure the public’s safety. “A state’s chief executive has ample inherent power to prevent carnage,” Harvard Law School professor and constitutional expert Laurence Tribe told TIME in an email. All steps that Patrick has taken so far, Tribe explained, appear to fully comply with the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.

The shelter in place order is far from the first time the government has requested the public remain at home for their safety. Silliman points to Toronto’s use of a major quarantine during the 2003 SARS epidemic as one example. Mayors and governors often rely on mandatory evacuations to keep people from harm’s way with impending natural disasters, and curfews are a tool to help contain unrest.

(MORE: Live Updates: Marathon Bomber Manhunt Shuts Down Boston After Overnight Shootouts)

Governments have also resorted to creative methods of keeping law and order in turbulent times. In early April 1968, just after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Boston officials feared a race riot would engulf the city. City Councilman Tom Atkins had the idea that they could televise a James Brown concert, scheduled for the day after King’s assassination, and keep the city’s youth at home watching the concert on TV. When James balked at performing if the concert was televised and fewer people attended, Boston Mayor Kevin White dipped into the city’s coffers to guarantee Brown’s take of a sold out show.

But orders and creative solutions weren’t necessary in Boston on Friday. As the manhunt continued, people waited anxiously inside their homes. Though Watertown’s residents are no doubt relieved to be safe, some wonder how long Boston can continue in the heightened security state. “My fear is that they don’t find him today,” Jenny Sartori, 43, a professor of Jewish studies at Northeastern University told TIME. “We can’t go on living in lockdown indefinitely. How can you find one person in a whole city?

Swat teams moved block-by-block, knocking on doors and asking people if they had seen anything suspicious. About 11:30 am, a small team of police knocked on the door of James Gillen, a resident of Watertown who lives four blocks from where the shootout happened Thursday. They searched his home and joined up with a larger group, and the 30-officers in their tactical gear, rifles at the ready, patrolled down the street.

As the SWAT officers left Gillen’s home, his two-year-old son asked why they were there. “I had to tell him that the police are looking for a bad guy,” Gillen says. Throughout the long day at home, “he keeps on asking me, ‘Did they get the bad guy?’” The rest of Boston no doubt feels the same way.

With reporting from Jay Newton-Small/Boston; Andrea Sachs, Alexandra Sifferlin, and Olivia Waxman/ New York.

MORE: Brothers in Arms: Sibling Psychology and the Bombing Suspects

53 comments
PaulBarclay
PaulBarclay

This "news" article is hilarious. People are not nearly as stupid as you seem to think Time magazine. You are not helping publishing this disinformation. With the exception of a few obvious trolls like "Windust" who either works for a US intelligence agency or really is that stupid, every single comment on here is talking about how nothing in this article is true. When the next "terrorist" attack occurs, and we have martial law again, there will be riots in the streets. They will be protesting the police state, not the "terrorists."

EricsBizTweets
EricsBizTweets

The article's point is totally irrelevant. The Constitution WAS disregarded. What the article fails to identify is that law enforcement came in to people's houses without consent (in most cases) and searched their property without any legal court order approved by a judge or magistrate of the court.  The 4th Amendment to the Constitution clearly prohibits warrantless searches and seizures and is punishable by federal law (at least it used to be). This single act, even if you were indeed allowed to walk down the street, albeit at your own risk, violated the 4th Constitutional Amendment and brings the entire legality of imposing a lockdown on the city of Boston into question.  That said, I don't blame anyone for questioning the law enforcement's actions that day based on this single discrepancy.  However, I don't blame law enforcement for looking out for the safety of the people in the lockdown area either---to serve and protect is their job. I think that had the rights of citizens been respected by law enforcement, the situation would have been perceived very differently and would have been much more effective in terms of setting an example of readiness for the nation (and indeed the world), while simultaneously reassuring the citizens of Boston and reinforcing the actions of officers (in terms of assessing what worked or what didn't work) who participated that day. In a lot of instances that involve some level of strategy, HOW a situation is approached is just as important, if not more important, as THAT it was approached. The point is, you can say what you like, but you will always attract a lot more bugs with honey than you do with sh*t. 

JamesLawrence
JamesLawrence

This story is an utter lie they are feeding us.  There are about 10 videos of what actually went on.  Police pointing rifles at people in 2nd story windows.  Police entering houses with guns drawns, removing the people and searching without consent or warrants.


So lies being told.  This was not a voluntary lockdown.  You could not go freely about your business.  People who did were stopped, thrown to the ground, one boy reports on VIDEO that he was thrown to ground, frisked, and then taken outside the area and dropped.  Another lady was not allowed to go home.  They took people without choice outside of the area.  Tanks going down streets with rifles drawn.  Tanks bought by the feds when they can't afford supposedly to staff TSA.

What do the videos show?  Violation of 4th amendment rights to no search without warrant.  Violation of 10th amendment right to freedom of movement (supreme court sanctioned right for over 70 years).  Yet the news tells us this is normal.  This is legal.  This was voluntary.  All lies. 

And the worst part is it was ineffective and worthless.  The suspect was outside the lockdown area.  Why didn't they use detective work and dogs, standard police procedure for TRACKING people?  Go door to door and ask people what they saw, not violate their rights.  Maybe they would have found him sooner.  What did work?  Someone keeping his eyes open and reporting to police.  Maybe that should be the path next time, what's worked for 200 years.

attomeq
attomeq

Ah, so we see how it is in present-day Amerika. I believe these two boys were set up. Scary how much fire power Boston can muster up within moments. Welcome to police state USSA! 

MarcieJohnston
MarcieJohnston

Happy to see many comments on here from people that TRULY seem to get it. Let's keep waking people up because this is NOT the America I want for my children and grandchildren.

Gukawise
Gukawise

I was told by resident of Dexter Ave that he left his house to get medicine and his note book from his car parked outside of his front door. The Boston police came to his door pull him out of his home hit him on his hand drop his coffee yelled and scream at him, hit him with the knee on his stomach punch him two times on his front shoulder. Then they turn him around and put hand calf on his hands right on the bones,extremely tight. Took him away from his home with force. His wife and two young terrified children thought the terrorist was in their back yard. They went to practice what their father taught them in case of terrorist getting in their home, hid under the bed. This man was so afraid for his family safety that he did everything in his power to fallow our protectors order. He even told them that he understands that police and FBI are at his home to protect them. My dear Bostonians guess what was the reply of Boston officer. "We are here to protect us". Can you believe of the arrogance of our protectors. They were in Watertown not to protect the citizens, but only and only themselves.

RogerPoonsmasherMcFeelings
RogerPoonsmasherMcFeelings

Terrorist attacks will always happen. But once you disregard the Constitution, it's forever lost. 

windust
windust

These comments are amazingly rude and have obviously been written by stupid-minded people who have never had themselves and their loved ones at risk during a terrorist attack.  Apparently none of you live in the Boston area.  We were not under martial law or under siege.  We willingly complied and stayed inside, and no one I knew complained about it.  We were already warning each other to stay off the streets before the shelter-in-place request from the governor.  Two terrorists possessed firearms and had a frickin' lot of explosives, including an unexploded cache discovered after the capture, that could have harmed more than the 4 dead and 170 already injured.  We willingly complied with the request to stay inside - because WE DIDN'T WANT TO GET SHOT OR BLOWN UP.  There were no further fatalities during the manhunt for the surviving suspect, and he was captured alive.


This is how a city works in times of crisis.  Solidarity.  I hope you can be so lucky if a crisis ever hits your town.

crysbriant
crysbriant

I understand the need for public safety. The idea that with the public out and about and the bomber loose, how many more would be injured or killed? However, in the name of terrorism, what is curious was the commit by a supposed reporter, "is this a false flag event?" the response, "No." and then the city goes on lock down. With the president pushing gun control, threats of seceding, it sounds like a prep for marshal law. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a false flag event. It wouldn't be admitted if it was.

DavidPhillips
DavidPhillips

"Voluntary"

That's what they are calling it when a tank rolls into your front yard, men in black armor with assault weapons hop out, and knock on your door and ask if you would be a super nice citizen and let them search your house for Terrorist Boogeymen.  Totally voluntary - right. PFF!

Robb7
Robb7

It wasn't mandatory by law, but prudent by Bostonians to comply.  However, make no mistake, Boston handed the keys to their city to a crazed teenager!  This evil killer had the power to shut down Boston  -- and wasn't caught until the ban was lifted and people could SEE what was happening in their own turf.

Sherryelyn
Sherryelyn

This was not exactly a voluntary lockdown. Robocalls came into people's homes telling them not to go outside. Trains, buses subways, and taxis were not operating. 

GalacticCannibal
GalacticCannibal

Which was worse. The Boston marathon bombing that killed 3 people . Or the invasion of IRAQ by US Military that killed tens thousands of people. 

LOOK in the mirror America.


windust
windust

@Gukawise 
First, if this story, which we are all reading fourthhand right now, is true, the ACLU will be on it.  Where is the resident now?  I'd like a follow-up, and I hope he takes the BPD to court for the brutal nature of his arrest.  
I haven't seen *any* media coverage of any such thing happening - and there were media everywhere, and civilians with cellphones recording everything - and it should have appeared on Reddit or Drudge or some of the less-reputable websites by now.  

In other news, here is something positive for you:
http://www.boston.com/news/source/2013/04/boston_cop_deli.html



windust
windust

@RogerPoonsmasherMcFeelings The Constitution was not disregarded.  We were free to go outside and walk down the street to Dunkin' Donuts.  In fact, some of us did.  But it was completely voluntary.  There was no state of emergency declared, no martial law imposed.  

Yes, safety for my loved ones and myself so that we may continue to enjoy our liberties in the future is paramount.

Amer_Infidel
Amer_Infidel

@RogerPoonsmasherMcFeelingsThe 4th amendment requires search and arrest warrants be sanctioned by a judge and supported by probable cause, but there are a few, limited exceptions...one being: Officers can search in time-restricted situations where the process of obtaining a valid warrant could compromise public welfare or potential evidence. 
Neither one of us has any idea what actually transpired during that video. If any homes in Boston were entered and the owner believes it was done illegally, they have the right to sue the city and the police department. See how that works?

windust
windust

@Robb7 Keep in mind that the shutdown removed all avenues of escape and basically trapped and isolated the suspect.  Had the owner of the boat not stayed home from work, and had his family been out and about, they might have been injured, because the suspect still had a gun.

DavidPhillips
DavidPhillips

@Robb7 It was basically in the best interest of the peasants to stay indoors and not risk being shot by Police snipers looking to make the Patriot's Day kill-heard-round-the-world ( GIGGLE )

DavidPhillips
DavidPhillips

@Sherryelyn But it was voluntary.  The peasants were perfectly within their rights to walk out the door and be shot dead by Police who assumed only Terrorists would not comply :-)

NateRawlings
NateRawlings

@Sherryelyn True. But according to the law, people could have left if they wished, as the state trooper said: 

"There has been no law mentioned or any idea that if you went outside you’d be arrested."

windust
windust

@GalacticCannibal The invasion is worse.  It is a great injustice, and we have blood on our hands.  But that doesn't stop us from protecting our citizens on American soil.

JamesLawrence
JamesLawrence

@windust @Gukawise Geez.  Not that milk story.  Go see the videos on youtube showing the police did this stuff to everyone in that neighborhood, hundreds of people.  Go see the videos confirming what Gukawise is saying, there is video showing the police telling media to stay a block away from even filming the illegal searches at gunpoint.  

I think the police traumatized these people.  Which would you be scared of more, a bomber somewhere, or the police in front of you with a rifle pointed at your head?  It seems as if everyone in that neighborhood had a gun pointed at them that day and it wasn't the bad guys doing it, or was it?

So that lone story of milk can go to hell, it doesn't take away the guns pointed at people.

Gukawise
Gukawise

Windust, You are asking right questions, but from wrong direction. Yes, there was no media coverage,why? Why no one complained, because so many innocent people were effected by the bombing. So if I was them I would wait to show my respect to victoms of bombing. The answer to your questions;

1. No media was allowed on that street

2. People were told not to look out the windows

3. People are afraid of public opinion for reporting,( timing is not right)

In my opinion the people on Dexter Ave have all the answers regarding human rights and how our police force misbehaved under pressure. By stepping on rights of their own citizens and blowing wind and dust on everyone's eyes.The story you questioned, is true. Mildly told. And it is up to you to ask right questions as a citizen of this great country. I would assume that you and your loved ones would like to be treated with great respect and honor. As you stated previously "The Constitution was not disregarded", it was true for you for that moment. You enjoyed your cup of coffee without being detained front of your naihbors in your own neighborhood. How lucky one can be.

Gukawise
Gukawise

Windust, You are asking right questions, but from wrong direction. Yes, there was no media coverage,why? Why no one complained? So many innocent people were effected by the bombing. So if I was a sencetive human, I would wait to show my respect to victoms of bombing. The answer to your questions;

1. No media was allowed on that street

2. People were told not to look out the windows

3. People are afraid of public opinion for reporting,( timing is not right)

In my opinion the people on Dexter Ave have all the answers regarding human rights and how our police force misbehaved under pressure. By stepping on rights of their own citizens and blowing wind and dust on everyone's eyes.The story you questioned, is true. Mildly told. And it is up to you to ask right questions as a citizen of this great country. I would assume that you and your loved ones would like to be treated with great respect and honor. As you stated previously "The Constitution was not disregarded", it was true for you for that moment. You enjoyed your cup of coffee without being detained front of your naihbors in your own neighborhood. Just imagine the humiliation of being told that you deserved it. Before you go to bed tonight, think about if you are going to question my integrity. But again never stop asking questions it is your Constitutional right. There is no reason to post a story as such if it is not a true story except to make sure that our Constitutional rights are protected by our law officers. My best wishes to you with my positive attitude.

JamesLawrence
JamesLawrence

@windust @RogerPoonsmasherMcFeelings You are either lying now or were not in that neighborhood.  Videos clearly show people being detained from entering it or walking the streets freely.  They clearly show guns being pointed at people just for staring out windows....that sounds like martial law to me.  So again everyone, go look up the videos on youtube.  They are coming out in force now and don't believe the appeasers like this guy who claim it was voluntary (like the media lies and says it was too, coincidence?)

JamesLawrence
JamesLawrence

@Amer_Infidel @RogerPoonsmasherMcFeelings   Don't forget we also have a right to freedom of movement.  That also was violated by the very concept of a lockdown.  Scholars have also said that the 4th amendment is the most precious, as its the right for the government to leave us alone.

JamesLawrence
JamesLawrence

@anothuhbostonian @RogerPoonsmasherMcFeelings   no see that's the thing.  Exigent circumstances do NOT apply.  That is another lie the media is feeding us.  They still have to have reasonable suspicion that something is going on, ie someone is in danger, a suspect will escape or evidence will be destroyed.  They did this door to door too, every house, not just this one.  What reasonable suspicion was there that the suspect was hiding in THAT house?  The fact is he was outside the area of the search, so this was entirely unnecessary and illegal.


Moreover, why didn't they just use regular police procedure for a search?  Dogs to follow trails, detectives to go door to door to make sure people are safe and to see if anyone saw anything?  How was the guy found?  One person keeping his eyes open and reporting to the police.  So strange that worked huh?

windust
windust

@RogerPoonsmasherMcFeelings 

So, if you don't have the full story, GET THE FULL STORY and post it here.  Otherwise you're just a tabloid muckraker with no integrity whatsoever.

JamesLawrence
JamesLawrence

@NateRawlings @Sherryelyn The videos clearly show and people are telling it did not go down that way.  People were not allowed to enter, and then they were bussing people out of the area as well without choice.

RobertKrebs
RobertKrebs

@windust @GalacticCannibal Look up the last time the US intentionally target population centers and the difference between terrorist attacks and combat operations according to the laws of land warfare. I'll help y'all out. A terrorist attack is a deliberate attack on civilians and noncombatants in order to cause terror and fear. Combat operations (especially those led by the US, a Military of free men who maintain the one right to disobey unlawful orders) according to the laws of land warfare do not site engaging noncombatants as lawful and you'll get hemmed up and in serious trouble for it. At war bad stuff happens. I'll never justify it but its the truth. I wish every mad man in the world could be dealt with by using flowers and sweet talk but that is not so. "Violence, naked force has settled more issues in History than has any other factor and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and freedoms" Starship Troopers RAH

JamesLawrence
JamesLawrence

@windust @JamesLawrence @Gukawise 4th amendment - no searches without warrants.  10th amendment - freedom of movement.  Both violated.  You must be dense if you can't see those are violated, but it seems you are intent on excusing the actions of police no matter what and think its ok to violate human rights. 

windust
windust

@JamesLawrence
Sure, I'll look at the videos.  Forget about the milk.  Please provide the links from youtube.  I've only seen one video of a police search of a house that's still unconfirmed as to where and when it took place.  There are ten videos?  I've looked and I can't find them, so please help me out.  And I don't blame the police for telling the media to stay a block away - they are armed and dangerous and looking for a terrorist, and it's to keep the paparazzi out of the mess - the effect is that they don't get to film it at the exact sites, bloody boo hoo for them.   Obviously ten people (as you attest) got around that.  I know witnesses and residents of Watertown personally, read their accounts, seen their photos, watched their videos, and I didn't observe any of these stories described.  If what you are saying is true, then it is disturbing - but it needs to be VERIFIED.  Otherwise you're just perpetuating an urban legend.  Searching each house for a suspect?  If it's unconstitutional, the ACLU ought to be on it right away.  Heck, drug busts should be unconstitutional as well.  

So... where are the illegal terrorist search lawsuits?

windust
windust

@Gukawise Actually, no, I was not enjoying any such cup of coffee in my neighborhood.  I just question the veracity of the story until I hear it from the people it happened to.  The scene needs to be confirmed as happening on Dexter Ave Thurs-Fri April 18-19.  I will wait for this confirmation from Dexter Ave residents.  Otherwise it's like playing telephone, and this is how small stories turn into infamous urban legends.  I also doubt points 1-3 actually were the case, as I've read many reports indicating otherwise, as well as heard from witnesses personally - and seen their cell photos and videos - who were stuck on the street in Watertown that night, watching it unfold before them.

windust
windust

@attomeq  

No.  

But you can continue believing that if it makes you feel better.  Meanwhile we'll continue being thankful for our law enforcement and the fact that we *can* continue going about our daily lives today.

windust
windust

@RogerPoonsmasherMcFeelings

This isn't about Obama or the 2nd Amendment.  Come back in 2016, 2020, 2024, and beyond and say that about every president in the future.  Heck, from now on, you should visit cities right after they suffer a terrorist attack and deliver your arguments yourself in front of them.  

JohnThompson3
JohnThompson3

 Have you ever sought mental health? Or that's not what 'Muricans do?

windust
windust

@RobertKrebs 
I see your point, though I'm not so easy to forgive the "bad stuff" in relation to war.  There are such things as misdirected, terribly executed military campaigns, of which I believe the Iraq War is a shining example.  Fortunately, law enforcement operations in Boston and Watertown the week of April 15 proceeded with minimal civilian casualties.

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