Martial Law in Boston: American Democracy in Shambles
By Barry Grey
April 23, 2013
With the imposition of a state of siege in Boston, a historical threshold has been crossed. For the first time ever, a major American city has been placed under the equivalent of martial law. The already frayed veneer of a stable democracy based on constitutional principles is in shreds.
On Monday, April 15, two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in the city’s center. Three people were killed and over 170 were injured, some seriously.
This was a criminal act with tragic consequences. But violence, including acts of mass homicide and disasters resulting in major loss of life, is a regular feature of American society. Even as the events in Boston were unfolding, a factory explosion in Texas, to all appearances linked to safety hazards, took far more lives than the bombs detonated at the end of the marathon.
There is no precedent for the massive mobilization of military, police and intelligence forces carried out April 19 in Boston and its environs, which encompass more than 1 million people. Thousands of heavily armed police and National Guard troops occupied the streets, backed up by machine gun-mounted armored vehicles, Humvees and Black Hawk helicopters. As the WSWS noted, the scene resembled the US occupation of Baghdad.
The people were told to remain indoors while police, with automatic weapons drawn, conducted warrantless house-to-house searches. Some of those who strayed out of doors were surrounded by police and ordered to go home. The mass transit system was shut down; passenger train service along the northeastern corridor was halted; businesses, universities and other public facilities were closed.
Boston—the cradle of the American Revolution, one of the most liberal cities in one of the most liberal states in the US, the country’s premier center of higher education—was turned into an armed camp. This staggering mobilization of federal, state and local police power was deployed to track down a 19-year-old youth.
So far, there has been no protest from within the political or media establishment to the lockdown.