Security tight in the South End for visit by President Obama to honor Boston Marathon bombing victims
Boston Police officers stood in groups of two or three on corners and metal barriers lined both sides of the South End's Washington Street near the Cathedral of the Holy Cross early Thursday morning as the city prepared for a visit from President Obama and Michelle Obama in honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
By 8 a.m. Boston Police special operations truck was parked outside the church and police officers were transporting more metal and wooden barriers to other areas.
Across from the church on Washington St. a wall of officers stood while spectators and passersby snapped photos and cars traveling from side streets navigated through small openings in barriers.
The Obamas are scheduled to attend an interfaith prayer service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Washington Street in the South End at 11 a.m.
The service, called “Healing Our City”, is expected to draw victims’ families, first responders, medical personnel, government officials, business leaders, and others to the church.
While such security is common for a presidential visit, security an tensions have been high across the city this week.
“It's becoming like a police state,” Mike Sullivan of Weymouth said as he stood across the street from the church.
"It just makes people feel better, it doesn't make them any safer,'' he said, noting the number of officers in the city carrying large, powerful guns since Monday's attack.
MBTA and transit police buses blocked Washington Street, diverting drivers headed downtown to East Brookline St., making the rest of the usually Washington Street accessible only police vehicles and tow trucks.
Pedestrians, confined behind metal barriers, tried to find the shortest detour to their homes and offices.
"How are we gonna get through this," a man grumbled to his companion as they approached the church.
Another man asked if he could get through the barriers to his nearby home.
"Ya gotta walk around, hoss," a police officer told him.
Obama’s visit comes three days after two bombs exploded within seconds of each other near the Boylston Street finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people, injuring 176, and setting off a massive investigation by local, state, and federal authorities
As of Wednesday, law enforcement officials were “very close” in the investigation and have security footage of a suspect carrying, and perhaps dropping, a black bag at the second bombing scene, the Globe reported.