Editors note: This was inspired by an anonymous submission.
On April 19th, 2013, Boston and its surrounding areas were loud with the roar of silence. In an unprecedented move, Governor Deval Patrick instilled a ”shelter in place” order in these areas. The reason for the lockdown? To allow the police to find and capture 19-year-old Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar (Jahar) Tsarnaev.
The lockdown was put in place around 7 AM that Friday morning, after Dzhokhar managed to escape the police after an alleged firefight in Watertown with police in which his older brother, Tamerlan, was killed. In Watertown, residents were placed in a strict lockdown, in which they were to stay inside with locked doors, not open their businesses, and no vehicles were allowed on the streets. In surrounding areas, residents were allowed to drive on the streets, but were also urged to stay inside and keep their businesses closed.
During the lockdown, residents of Watertown were subject to searches of their houses by heavily armed police. Some of these residents were nothing but willing, but most of them were very scared. Not only was a suspected terrorist loose in their town and could be hiding anywhere, but police armed to the teeth were knocking on their door asking to search their home. Some residents even claim that they were not asked, rather told that their houses would be searched. Residents were told to leave their homes, some with needed medications that were left behind, some with small children, some with nowhere to go.
After the searches of the homes in Watertown turned up nothing, Gov. Patrick lifted the lockdown and hortly after it was lifted, David Henneberry stepped out back of his home, when he noticed that the cover to his boat, being kept in his backyard, looked different. When he went to investigate, he noticed a strap was cut. Henneberry looked inside the boat to find “a body in a pool of blood". After he discovered this, he promptly contacted police and left his home. This eventually led to the now famous moment in which the police captured Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
After the lockdown, many people were upset about what they call “Martial Law” being set in place in their town. The police were in charge of everything that day, and some critics will be quick to tell you that the residents’ and Tsarnaev’s constitutional rights were stomped on. While the police were trying to protect citizens from a young man who may have been heavily armed, they did not have warrants to search the homes of the residents, which would be a violation of the fourth amendment. However, many people did consent to the searches, which may have been an exception to the amendment.
Do you agree with the length and degree of the lockdown in the Boston suburbs? Do you believe the residents’ constitutional rights were violated, or was the situation so unusual that the 4th amendment need not apply? Do you think police did a proper job in capturing Tsarnaev?