Security becomes even tighter after U.S. air strikes

By Jerry Schwartz

The Associated Press

America listened with dread Monday for echoes of explosions it had unleashed a world away.

In downtown Los Angeles, newly placed concrete barricades manned by police officers protected City Hall, its annex and Parker Center, the police headquarters. In Atlanta, police assigned to monitor public schools were put on heightened alert.

Sheriff's deputies set up a security checkpoint to enter the operations area of the Milwaukee airport. Access to the Colorado state Capitol was limited to one entrance, and a metal detector was in place.

With the start of allied attacks on Afghanistan, security nationwide - already tightened after the Sept. 11 attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center - was ratcheted up again. "America will not live in peace," said Osama bin Laden, in a tape broadcast worldwide, and many Americans took the alleged terrorist mastermind at his word.

The calls for gas masks and American flags picked up again at the Ax-Man surplus store in St. Paul, Minn. Although the store stresses the gas masks they sell are novelty items and not intended for legitimate use, manager Kim Mourning said the place has a waiting list.

"Everyone from mothers to older people have called," she said. "Some don't even want to be on a list - they want it now."

Terri Legg, 39, and Freddie Foster, 43, of Elmer, N.J., considered driving to Philadelphia on Monday to shop and sightsee. Instead, they went shopping at a mall closer to home.

"If there's going to be an attack, they'll go for a place with thousands of people, and Philadelphia is very congested," Foster said. "We're looking to go to places where it's a little more safe, a little less crowded. We've told our kids to lock the doors, too. Before, it was like Who would want to break into our house?' Now, you don't know."

Jim Furlan and his wife, Cheryl, waited at Chicago's O'Hare Airport for the airliner that would take them home to Los Angeles. Jim was OK with flying, if "a bit queasy." There was no way Cheryl would get on a plane - except that their two daughters, ages 3 and 5, awaited them.

"I feel sick," she said.

At Detroit Metropolitan Airport, James Brown was returning home to Stratford, N.H., from a Michigan-Michigan State hockey game. He will be traveling to San Francisco in coming weeks, but apart from that, he is staying home. He doesn't trust airport security.

"The security searching is not working," he said. "I didn't feel like I got searched."

Nancy Fritz, a nursing student from Irvine, Calif., studied for her midterms in the courtyard of a Phoenix mall while her husband attended a convention.

"For me, especially living near Hollywood, where most of America's culture is disseminated to the world, the possibility of retaliatory strikes now seems very real. I'll probably start to stockpile bottled water and nonperishable food supplies," she said.

Still, "I can't see myself taking a vacation in Afghanistan any time soon, but other than that, I won't change much in my life."

Others said they trusted security, or were fatalistic about the possibility of more terrorism.

"If they're going to try something, they're going to try something," said Jennifer Molnar, 16, of Mays Landing, N.J., as she shopped at the Hamilton Mall.

"I don't want to stop my life. In the beginning, yes, I did things differently. Now I'm getting back to normal," said Gina Morgan, a 29-year-old accountant from Inkster, Mich., who visited Fairlane Mall in Dearborn to get her nails done.

Recommended for you

comments powered by Disqus