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"BostonStrong"? Cole Harrison on local and DC priorities

During the May 20 panel presentation, "Boston Marathon Bombings: Impact and Response," Cole Harrison (director of Mass. Peace Action) discussed budgetary and cultural issues that both preceded and followed the Tax-Day bombings. While state residents passed a budget referendum last fall calling for reduced military spending, e.g., by April 15 it was still clear that "there is a difference between what the people want and what Washington wants," Cole noted. The sequester and other budget cuts have fallen heavily on vital programs like jobs, housing, and Head Start, while spending on the military and Homeland Security remains strong. In addition, after the Boston-marathon attacks, area police departments (already heavily militarized and funded via Homeland Security) argued for additional money for surveillance, domestic drones, and greater police powers, items that would drain even resources from the programs the population considers most important. Cole touched on the growing surveillance state, and calls by some to use the Marathon bombings as a reason to increase the "see something, say something" culture, to increase profiling. He ended with a call for unity. Three people died during the marathon explosions on April 15, but many more people die daily in some inner-city communities, with notably less public and police attention or response. "We must all be united against violence" in any form, he said, including that of the bombings; the less-publicized violence endemic to many communities; and the violence perpetrated during wars.

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