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Mills students reflect on the aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombings

Image of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects Dzokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnev released by the FBI.
Image of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects Dzokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnev released by the FBI.

The bombings that took place at the Boston Marathon on Monday, Apr 15 and the subsequent manhunt, police battle, and arrest of suspects, have left Mills College students feeling upset, terrified, and angry.

“The number of incidents like this has increased and I am really worried for everyone I know all over the country and their well-being,” first-year Katy Schluntz said.

Two explosions, which occurred within 100 yards of each other near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killed three and injured upwards of 170 spectators and runners. Boston was paralyzed for a week; the city was on lock down, a deadly shooting took place on MIT’s campus, and the all-out manhunt for suspects Tamerlan and Dzokhar Tsarnev began.

“For me, it is no longer a question of why, because the answer is convoluted, but when, and how to make sure the least amount of people get hurt,” Schluntz said.

As of 5:45 p.m. PST on Friday, April 19, the manhunt for one of the bombing suspects, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnev, ended when he was found hiding out in a boat in Watertown, Massachusetts. His brother, the other suspect, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnev, was killed earlier in the week during a shoot-out between the brothers and MIT police, during which an officer was also killed. 19-year-old Tsarnev was taken into custody.

According to The Boston Globe, the Boston Police Department (BPD) found that the sources of the twin explosions were small devices packed with nails and ball bearings. These bombs were kept inside two 6-liter pressure cookers, carried in black bags, and placed on the ground about 75-100 yards away from each other.

“[The bombings] are a tragedy, especially because the first twenty miles were dedicated to the children who were killed in Newtown, and the last six were for the teachers,” first-year Deellan Kashani said.

According to news outlets such as CNN and MSNBC, American citizens everywhere are calling it “terrorism.” President Obama stated during his address to the nation hours after the bombings that the individuals responsible would “feel the full weight of justice.”

President Obama also stated in his address that the White House was unsure if the attack was domestic or foreign.

“The word terrorism came up way too fast, in my opinion,” sophomore Louisa Angleton said. “I think given the last few mass shootings being the result of normal people going off the deep end, they are feeling the need to come up with a solution that points fingers elsewhere.”

After the bombings took place, fingers were indeed pointed: at a Saudi national student studying in Boston on a visa. CNN and MSNBC all reported that a Saudi national who was injured in the blast was being guarded and detained for questioning regarding suspicious behavior. The evidence reported to constitute suspicious behavior was that the man had “tried to enter a restricted area five minutes before the blast.”

At the time, CNN and MSNBC also reported that authorities were looking for a “black or darker skinned male.”

Some Mills students are upset and outraged by the way law enforcement handled the search for the individuals responsible.

“I am disgusted by the assumptive Islamaphobia that has gripped the nation again,” senior Emily Kavanaugh said. “I am sad that many of my Muslim friends have experienced hostility as a result of extremist group actions.”

The FBI released a statement that labeled the older suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnev, as a “follower of radical Islam,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

“It makes me sad for our nation,” Kavanaugh said. “Think about it: we’re so closed-minded and are so willing to brand an entire population just because of the irrational acts of a few.”

Boston Police issued a statement urging people to go home after the bombings and “not congregate in large crowds” while they investigated the scene.

“I’m also really upset by the fear mentality being evoked in our country right now,” Angleton said. “I hate to feel like we need to be taught to fear gathering in places or being in public with strangers.”

Resident Assistant Daisha Mshaka wants students to know that she and other resident assistants are open to students who need support in the wake of the bombings and that there are a multitude of other resources on campus as well.

“I would refer residents to the counseling services in Cowell and encourage them to connect with other students who are experiencing similar feelings,” Mshaka said. “A support group of students may provide a safe space for conversation about the bombings.”