Images by Emily Hopkins
Like many marathon spectators, I walked away from Monday’s festivities with a special souvenir: a purple wristband printed with the word “inspected.” This is part of a new normal level of security, a tag to indicate that your bag has been checked at one of more than two dozen checkpoints between the Kenmore and Copley areas. Even as the crowd inside the barriers thinned, and as runners exited the course in telltale silver blankets, throngs of visitors bottlenecked at entrances so that law enforcement officers could search their belongings.
The general atmosphere around the checkpoints was one of complacency—a small inconvenience in the name of safety. Kurt Schwartz, director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, summed up such sentiments in comments to the media about attendees not being able to carry backpacks: “It will enhance security,” he said, offering no actual proof. “It will provide a much greater level of comfort to other spectators if people carry their possessions in a clear plastic bag.”
At one point, I inadvertently slipped out of the fences and found myself in line for yet another checkpoint. I was visibly annoyed, so one officer chimed in: “The rules are the rules, you can’t complain.” As I prepared for my second warrantless search of the afternoon, I could think of only one thing to say: “Actually, I can.” It’s the very least I can do.