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Los Angeles vs. New York: Responses to a Terrorism Threat

Los Angeles vs. New York: Responses to a Terrorism Threat

There are roughly 2,797 miles between Los Angeles, California and New York City, New York. Despite the fact that these cities reside in opposite sides of the country, they usually have one ideal that remains the same between them: Keep the citizens safe.

New York has seen its number of terrorism attacks and threats. If you asked a New Yorker today, they’d still tell you that the events of September 11 still loomed over them. Since 2001, the city that never sleeps has become the city that sleeps with one eye open. Tensions are running even higher these days as a result of the Paris Attack in November, the city in quiet morning of those lost in Paris and remembering those lost in NYC.

California has seen some intense situations as well, even more recently with the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California just an hour’s drive from Los Angeles. The shooting, which at first seemed to be a terrible case of workplace violence, has spiraled as new evidence was found. Eventually the FBI announced they’d be investigating the crime as an ‘act of terrorism.’ Since then, California just hasn’t been the same.

Just one day after the three year anniversary of the mass shooting in Newton, Connecticut that killed 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Los Angeles Unified School District announced they had received a “specific and credible” threat against “not one, not two but multiple” schools in the district and they would be closing all schools in the area upending the lives of parents, students and teachers.

LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines made the hard decision after a member of the school board received an electronic threat, an email from a German IP address. Cortines believed he could not put the students of Los Angeles at risk while there was a threat referencing guns, bombs and nerve gas against many of the area’s schools. He attributed the majority of his panic to the Paris Attacks and the events at San Bernardino.

As information regarding the threat against the LAUSD came forward, New York City officials stepped up to their podiums to announce that, they too, had received a similar threat: an electronic message that referenced guns , bombs and nerve gas against multiple schools in their district. The difference between the coasts seemed to be the outcome of the message. While LA shut down all schools, NYC was able to quickly dismiss the threat, believing it was closely related to a Showtime program, “Homeland,” and finding it non-credible.

By 10 a.m. the LAUSD would find that the threat to their district was, just like NYC’s, a hoax.

As days past, we would find out that not just NYC and LA had received this threat, but multiple school districts had. LAUSD, the second largest school district in the country, was the only one to close down.

The contrasting responses brought major criticism to both school districts. New York police commissioner, William J. Bratton, who had reviewed the NYC threat and had decided it was “a hoax,” was quick to say that he believed LA had overreacted. Superintendent Cortines believes he was not overreacting.

“If you had known what I knew at 5 a.m. this morning, you would have done the same thing,” Cortines said. “There was no way I was going to risk the life of a student.”

LA police chief countered New York’s opinion. Chief Charlie Beck of LAPD believed it would be irresponsible to criticize the cancellation.

“It is very easy to criticize a decision based on the results that the decider could have never known and when have no responsibility for that outcome,” Beck said. “These are tough times, Southern California has been through a lot in the recent weeks. Should we risk putting our children through the same?”

Parents of LAUSD students, still shaken by the amount of carnage in San Bernardino, agreed overwhelmingly with Chief Beck. Many took to Twitter to discuss how they felt their child was safer away from the school and how some probably would have held their student from school regardless of what the superintendent decided. Many adopted the mantra, “Better safe than sorry.”

There were LA residents though, who believed that shutting down the schools was only going to set a precedent, showing that pranksters, or worse, could bring down a major city with just one email, but even those who were afraid of giving into the threats were part of the ripple effect caused by San Bernardino and eventually felt that, “It’s better to be cautious.”

Do you think that LAUSD was overreacting when they closed all of their schools?

Should New York have closed down their schools, too?

Are you afraid that events like these could set precedence for others?

I’m always excited to hear your comments, thoughts and opinions!

Posted by Sydny Shepard on Dec 22, 2015


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