Boston's a Ghost Town: Is That a Smart Move?

Some worry about the precedent set

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 19, 2013 3:24 PM CDT

(Newser) – As the manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev continues, one of the questions getting tossed around is whether the powers-that-be overreacted by shutting down the city of Boston. (Business Insider rounds up some of the remarkable photos being tweeted of the "ghost town.") Some samples:

  • Nate Silver of the New York Times, via tweet: "Can't wait til they catch the bastard, but it's valid to inquire about the tangible and intangible costs of shutting a whole city down."
  • Allahpundit, Hot Air: "You don’t want people milling about in a park when there’s a guy with a suicide vest, guns, and ammo on the loose. But then, murder suspects are on the loose all the time in big cities and nothing shuts down for them, even though in theory they’re just as likely to go out in a blaze of nutty glory among a crowd. If you’re an aspiring terrorist, knowing that you can shut down a city for a day must be encouraging."
  • Andrew Sullivan, the Dish: "I take Allahpundit’s point. If we discover this is a function of two twenty-something loser religious fanatics, what kind of precedent are we setting?"
  • First line in Bloomberg report: "An American hub of finance and technology was immobilized Friday by a terrorist manhunt that idled or distracted more than 1.5 million workers."
  • Quartz reports that "shut-it-down" has evolved into the go-to response for cities in any kind of emergency. It quotes a security analyst calling today's decision smart: "The priority is to get everyone off the streets," he says. "You have a person who has shown the ability to use explosives and has firearms. That puts the public at risk, and we have learned that we have a responsibility to prevent further injury to the public."

The usually busy Kenmore Square in Boston is virtually deserted at lunchtime Friday.
The usually busy Kenmore Square in Boston is virtually deserted at lunchtime Friday.   (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Ron Sanders of Amesbury, Mass. talks on his cellphone on a near-deserted street in downtown Boston Friday.
Ron Sanders of Amesbury, Mass. talks on his cellphone on a near-deserted street in downtown Boston Friday.   (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
A sign calling for citizens of Boston to Shelter in Place is shown on I-93 in Boston Friday.
A sign calling for citizens of Boston to "Shelter in Place" is shown on I-93 in Boston Friday.   (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
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