By Charlotte Brockway
An explosion in New York City on Sept. 17 in Chelsea injured 29 people and was an “intentional act” as observed by Mayor Bill de Blasio. The explosion happened at 23rd Street and 6th Avenue. As of Sept. 18, no one had been blamed and no organization claimed responsibility, until Monday, when suspect Ahmad Rahami was captured in a shootout with police in Linden, N.J. Investigations are still underway as authorities work to determine the connections between multiple explosions in New Jersey and Manhattan. Rahami, who is a U.S. citizen of Afghan descent and lives in Elizabeth, N.J. was identified as a suspect after a fingerprint was found on one of the devices that failed to detonate. The FBI still has no idea whether anyone else was involved, but there was no indication of an ISIS cell operating in New York City.
The suspect, Rahami, was arrested hours after officials plastered his photo on a wanted poster, claiming he was wanted for questioning in connection with Saturday’s blast. Rahami is believed to be the man seen on surveillance video dragging a duffel bag near the site of the New York explosion. According to a CNN news report, Rahami’s family lives above First American Fried Chicken in Elizabeth and has a history of clashes with the community over the restaurant, starting with alleged discrimination and harassment in a lawsuit filed against the city and its police department in 2011. They argued that officials conspired against them by subjecting them to citations for allegedly violating a city ordinance, on the claims that the restaurant posed a danger to the community. Officials are still investigating Ahmad Rahami’s background and connection with the bombing.
“I lived there (in New York) half the time and I’ve always felt safe,” said Serena Rosenblatt (’18), “It hits close to home because my Dad lives in Chelsea. He’s safe! He said he was ten blocks away but he heard the explosion”.
“Although I, of course, think the Manhattan Bombings are disturbing and distressing, I am worried about the highly politicized response to them,” Hannah Bracha Kohn (’17) said, “I think a lot of news coverage and politicians’ statements have fed into xenophobic ideas about immigrants. I read an article this morning which referred to the main suspect as a ‘naturalized immigrant.’ As far as I can tell, a naturalized immigrant is a citizen, but the article was determined to present him as the ‘other.’ Additionally, the media is focusing on the fact that he lived in Elizabeth, where many refugees have been relocated recently. Again, I am afraid the narrative being perpetuated demonizes refugees and immigrants and frames them as potential threats. By politicizing terrorism in this unfair manner, I think politicians fuel more hatred and actually put us in more danger. Terrorism exists to create terror. If we loudly and publicly feed into this, acts of terror can clearly be seen to be more effective. We need to respond sensibly and thoughtfully, promoting safety without angrily pointing fingers at a specific population.”
“At first, I was horrified,” said Nina Bergold (’17), “I couldn’t believe that someone would try to hurt so many innocent people. You’d think that 9/11 would be the first and last terrorist attack that New York would ever have to see… But this weekend’s bombing––and the constant updates on the search for Rahami––uncovered that big red target that’s been buried for fifteen years. After this…who knows what else might happen.”
“Still, if there’s one thing that 9/11 taught us, it’s to get up and move on,” Nina Bergold (’18) said. “Yeah, it sounds a bit callous, but we can’t just cower in the corner licking our wounds. Mayor de Blasio said that New Yorkers should expect increased security and police forces, and honestly, I think that’s more concerning than going through another attack. If anything, increasing the number of police forces will make us even more vulnerable to terrorists.
To reduce terrorist attacks, we need to stop waging war on the Middle East and supporting countries that fund radical terrorist groups. We need to wean ourselves off of Arab oil while we find more sustainable sources of energy. And most of all, we must stop fighting fire with fire. Drone attacks, torture, and militarization will only make things ten times worse.”
Again, the investigations are still a developing story in the news coverage.