Boston lockdown eyewitness report: The city has been brought to an utter standstill

Remaining inside, glued to unfolding events on TV is adrenaline-fuelled monotony, where routine events seem irrationally pointless

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Since 6am this morning, the city of Boston and, more specifically, the neighbouring borough of Watertown, have been in lockdown. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority have suspended all public transport and city officials have strongly advised everyone, leaving an automated message on landlines, to stay at home and not venture outside. The local park outside my apartment in Fenway, usually humming with daytime activity, is deserted, bar the frequency of circling police cars.

The events that occurred in Cambridge, in the dead of night, as bullets were sprayed into residents’ home, continues the trauma that has afflicted Boston this week. It resembles the narrative of a Hollywood movie, but as of yet, the reassuring ending, in which the ‘bad guys’ are captured and brought to justice, has not occurred. Currently, there is no closure.

Along with everyone in Boston, I have remained inside, glued to the unfolding events on television, as US security officials, working with courage and professionalism, continue the manhunt for the younger Tsarnaev brother. And as the search continues, the waiting for citizens of Boston continues; a wait which is filled with adrenaline-fuelled monotony. 

This not to suggest a disinterest in the unfolding events; indeed, the reports regarding the death of the MIT policeman - a father of a six-month old child, gunned down in cold blood - was a heart-rending tragedy. The impassioned denunciation by the suspects’ uncle, stating the ‘shame’ that had been brought on the family and ‘Checyhnan ethnicity’, underlined the important concept that the action of individuals should not stain the integrity of a nation. However, the longer the search continues, the more the wait is exhausting to watch.

As I wait inside my flat with friends, it has been a long morning, listening to the news, assuring worried friends and relatives back in the UK of our safety; sitting, waiting and watching for any further developments. To engage in the banality of administrative tasks like sending e-mails and organising meetings seems farcical when an international manhunt is occurring only miles away. And yet, there is an obvious sense of impotence of being trapped inside. This is the only real assistance an individual can offer the security services: remain inside, remain safe. Do not go anywhere.

Normally, anyone would relish a day off, the chance to relax and recuperate from the travails of work, but that is entirely the problem. There is no opportunity, whatsoever, to relax. Until closure occurs, this lingering atmosphere of monotonous fear will continue; a fear that makes routine events seem irrationally pointless. To cook, to read, or to simply relax, is nigh-on impossible. All one can do is watch the news, for hours on end.

Across the city, people have uploaded images of desertion; not merely the cordoned off area of Boylston St, but images across the city, ranging from the usual hubbub of Boston Common, to the shopping complex of the Prudential Centre. The city has been brought to an utter standstill.

And yet, when this ends and the perpetual sound of sirens leaves the streets of Boston, this city will find strength in its community. I had the privilege of attending the Boston Bruins (Ice Hockey) game on Wednesday evening, against the Buffalo Sabres. Although the capricious narrative of sport didn’t provide a moving victory for the Bruins, the sound of a capacity TD Gardens, booming out the American National Anthem, as banners of “Boston Strong” were proudly held aloft was a moment that exuded the strength of Bostonians. As a Brit, schooled in the art of modesty, I have often winced at the jingoism of Americans at Sporting Events, but this was different; this was a community embracing one another through the patriotism of their anthem.

However, the pride of this city has been placed on hold, as individuals seek the community of friends and relatives in this day of surreal fear. As I place my faith in the professionalism of the US Security services, one can only hope, that closure will come, not only for the city of Boston, but for those injured and killed. I can only hope that the empty basketball court outside my flat will be teeming with youngsters bedecked in Boston Celtics basketball shirts very, very soon.

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