Over this past weekend, several explosions and bomb scares have occurred across the northern NJ and NYC area. On Saturday the 17th at 9:30 in the morning, a bomb exploded near a charity race in Seaside Park on the Jersey Shore. It was hidden inside a trash can along the boardwalk route of the race, and detonated before the event started. luckily , no one was harmed, and no damage was sustained to any buildings.
The next day at 8:30 in the evening, another explosive device detonated in Chelsea, NYC, injuring twenty-nine people, and seriously injuring one. All those who were injured in the blast have since been released from the hospital. In addition to this explosive device, another was found several streets over, but was not detonated.
On Sunday at 8:45 in the evening, passerby discovered a backpack containing five explosives on a trash can in Elizabeth, NJ, and alerted the authorities. The FBI was dispatched to contain them, and while one was detonated accidentally, no one was harmed.
The next morning, after evidence implicating one Ahmad Khan Rahami as the perpetrator of the attacks came to light, the police issued a warning to the populace that he was at larged, armed, and dangerous. At 10:30 Tuesday morning, an officer found him sleeping in a doorway in Linden NJ, and attempted to arrest him. Rahami fired on the officer, and ran away down the street, firing his weapon. This instigated a chase, and after being shot several times, Rahami was taken under guard to Newark University Hospital.
He had been seen on security camera footage near the bombing in NYC, as well as the other explosive device, and the cache of explosives in Elizabeth was near his home. His motivations are unknown at this time, as well as many details of his life and movements, but many officials are not ruling out the possibility of a foreign connection, and mayor de Blasio has called it an act of terror. President Obama, who is in the area for the United Nations’ General Assembly, spoke about the resilience of New Yorkers, and called for caution and restraint in the spreading of potentially harmful rumors.
Several schools in the area have issued warnings and reports on the issue, including Rutgers Newark. Students at NJIT have had a range of responses to the events. One, Anna Vallejo, described her experience of the Chelsea explosion: “I was actually in the city at the time of the Chelsea explosion and I saw people coming from 23rd street talking about what had happened. My mom then called me in panic and asked if I was okay. I was about fifteen blocks away from where the explosion took place, but I could feel the terror through the people around me.”
Others find themselves worried after these events. One student, Sruti Rachapudi, said: “With all of the recent shootings, explosions, and bomb threats, I feel like people are reacting less and less. People are becoming desensitized in a way and that shouldn’t be happening. I mean, the proper response should be event, reaction, and action, not event, acknowledgement, passivity. The psychological effects of these tragedies is almost as scary as the tragedies themselves.” and another, Deliris Diaz, brought up the issue of religious discrimination, as well as NJIT’s silence on the matter, saying: “I’m just afraid that with these types of events, the public and the media will immediately jump to the conclusion that a Muslim or member of ISIS is behind the act… Also, I’ve heard from students at other colleges that they’re receiving alerts and emails about the recent bomb scares, explosions, etc. so I’m wondering why NJIT hasn’t informed us or said anything about the events.”
With terror attacks occurring at what seems to be an increasing rate, and the election cycle filled with hateful and fear-mongering rhetoric, these incidences cause major concern for everyone. However, as President Obama urged, we must not jump to conclusions or allow our fear to prompt hate or discrimination. Such a reaction would only make things worse, and we must instead strive for a calm, rational, and systematic solution to the growing problem.