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WE STAND WITH BOSTON: UIndy Campus community tied to the tragedy in unexpected ways

Posted on 04.24.2013

Two explosive devices placed near the finish line of the Boston Marathon detonated on April 15, injuring over 180 people and killing three, which included an eight-year-old boy. This tragedy was declared an act of terrorism by President Barack Obama the following day.
Obama promised during an April 18 interfaith service at Cathedral of Holy Cross in Boston that those responsible would be brought to justice.
“We will find you. We will hold you accountable,” Obama said. “But more than that, our fidelity to our way of life, for a free and open society, will only grow stronger, for God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but one of power and love and self-discipline.”
Federal agents immediately began processing video footage to identify suspects. According to University of Indianapolis Faculty Adjunct Grant Fredericks, CEO of Forensic Video Solutions, one of the investigators was trained in video forensics at the Digital Media Evidence Processing lab in the Sease Wing of Krannert Memorial Library, and another investigator is an unidentified faculty member.
According to Fredericks, the investigators had a big job. Fredericks said that every route leading to the marathon was recorded by cameras on highways and at stoplights and stores, as well as by television cameras and closed circuit television cameras set up solely for the marathon.

Cross Country photo contributed by cross country.

Cross Country photo contributed by cross country.

“In addition to all that, they have about 200,000 people carrying cell phones and video taping the events,” Fredericks said.
Although no plans exist to bring the investigation to UIndy, Fredericks said that the video lab located here is the best in the world.  According to Fredericks, the process does not stop once the suspects are apprehended, because a case has to be built to convict the suspects.
“Building a criminal case requires that they understand exactly what happens, so they have to go through every pixel on every video and every still image for the entire week or so leading up to the bombing,” Fredericks said. “They don’t just want to know what it looks like when the bomb went off. They want a complete record of any activity these guys had in the days before, leading up to it.”
This part of Boston is an area that Executive Director of  the Honors College and Assistant Professor of Modern Languages Amy Allen Sekhar knows well. Allen Sekhar received her master’s and doctoral degrees from Boston University, and has family who live in Boston. Most years, she said, the marathon route went right in front of her apartment.
According to Sekhar, the Boston Marathon is a special occasion that coincides with the Red Sox’s season opener and the New Engand holiday, Patriots’ Day. The marathon is more than a race, Sekhar said, it is a seminal season marker.
Sekhar said that when she heard something had happened, she immediately began searching for information.
“I got on the Internet, and then I was thinking about all of my people who live there,” she said. “So I just started calling people. And my brother-in-law and his wife are having a baby, so that kind of hit home for us—what it means to have family there.”
As a Boston native, UIndy President Robert Manuel also has a special connection to the city. At UIndy’s Interfaith Peace Service on April 18, Manuel said that children learn when their innocence is informed, but all too often adults do not learn until innocence is demolished. This, Manuel said, is what happened in Boston.
“So the call here is to remember that there are three things, three places, three moments that our society has to address these conversations. One is at birth with the newness of life, one is through church and one is through education,” Manuel said. “But those—church and education—are the two societal things left that we have to have teachable moments that can direct humanity in the right way.”
Sekhar said that the bombing reminded her of another tragic time when she lived in Boston—during the Sept. 11 attacks. She said that the phone lines did not work after both events.
“So I think that sort of feeling was similar, even though it’s not on the same magnitude of  9/11. I think having that sort of feeling of anger and loss of control is similar, for me,” Sekhar said.
Although she had prior engagements, she decided it was more important to make sure that her friends and family were safe.
Sekhar also said that when people live in a place, it becomes a part of their life, and that is how she feels about Boston. Even though she lived in Boston for less time than she has lived in Indiana, she said she still took the attacks personally.
“I still consider it my city because that’s where all my grad school friends are, or most of them. And I have family there. That’s where I met my husband. So, you know, it has a place in my heart,” she said. “I think, especially when you go to school somewhere, that that has an imprint on you in a way that other things don’t.”


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