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Attention Riders: Please Feel Free


No Free lunch, but plenty of Freedom talk as London bombs spur NYC alert

The Broadway-Lafayette subway station, where on Thursday at least five cops were present, appeared unguarded shortly after 8 a.m. this morning. Or perhaps that was just how things seemed. After all, a day earlier Governor George Pataki—appearing to be at least nine feet tall as he stood surrounded by mere downstate mortals—had told us, “You’re not seeing everything that’s being done because not everything is visible, and that’s as it should be.”

Not that there was any lack of measures that were visible, or at least well publicized. At the same briefing where Pataki made note of the secret protectors among us, he, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said that the NYPD held over its midnight-8 a.m. shift, sent four detectives from the intelligence division to London, put bomb squads on 12-hour shifts, stepped up security at bridges and tunnels, increased helicopter patrols of the waterways, sent escort boats along with Staten Island ferries, and sent cops from the organized crime, warrants, and headquarters staffs into uniform to guard transit facilities. There were cops on every subway train during last night’s and this morning’s rush hours, Kelly said, adding that more K-9 units were on patrol, the Emergency Operations Center at headquarters was up and running, and all truck traffic was shifted from the Williamsburg to the Manhattan bridge to allow more inspections. New York State cops and National Guardsman were riding the commuter trains, and state cops from New Jersey and Connecticut were given full police powers on trains running into New York State. Even the Department of Environmental Protection got into the act by testing the water for contaminants.

Despite all the armed officers flooding the streets, tunnels, and waterways, it was all about freedom for Pataki. He dubbed the London bombings “an attack on every one of us—every one of us who believes in freedom, and who believes in our ability to choose our own destiny and not be told by others how to live our lives.” (He later referred to the need to go about our “normal lives,” which seems to exclude the secret lives some of us lead as superheroes or dancers.) “We know what it’s like to live in freedom,” Pataki added. Then, driving the point home, he added that as for as the war on “terror” goes, “We’re going to win it by living as free . . . New Yorkers and Americans.”


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