Intersection shut, college evacuated for what turned out to be an empty bucket

Huntington and Gainsborough during shutdown. Photo by Keith Foley.Huntington and Gainsborough during shutdown. Photo by Keith Foley.

Police shut down the intersection of Huntington Avenue and Gainsborough Street and evacuated the New England Conservatory after a suspicious package was reported around 9 a.m. The bomb squad determined the item in question was an empty bucket and police began packing up and leaving around 9:40 a.m.

Meanwhile, in Brighton, a resident reported a suspicious black backpack on Everett Street around the same time. Arriving officers, however, talked to other residents, who showed police it was, in fact, just part of a collection of black trash bags.

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    Aaaaaand, here is where we

    Aaaaaand, here is where we start with the freaking out. Is there any way that these situations could be approached with more common sense?

    A few months ago, down here in NYC, I was waiting on the subway platform at Union Square. I noticed a backpack resting against a trash can, and after about 30 seconds of watching it clearly didn't belong to anyone waiting on the platform. In the spirit of, "If you see something, say something" I pointed this out to a nearby MTA employee. We both watched the pack for a few more seconds to confirm that it was, indeed, abandoned. Instead of running away and sounding the alarm that would have shut down the line and evacuated the station, he approached the pack, unzipped it, and found...books. Meanwhile, my train arrived, I got on and left.

    Not safe

    We do need to strike a balance between constant terror and awareness. SubwayKnitter, you were right to alert the MTA employee about the abandoned property. But the employee's reaction worries me. I'm of two minds about this, but the employee opening the bag is not the right reaction. What if it was a bomb? Should we shut down a station every time someone forgets something? How should we behave?

    I once alerted an MBTA employee (the only one in North Station at rush hour I could find, actually) about an abandoned cardboard box and she KICKED IT to see if it exploded. We need some training: for T employees and for civilians.

    I lived in Israel for a while. The reaction there would be to alert an employee or policeman about the abandoned property and then leave the area. Here in Boston (and America) we need to figure out the balance; we're not Israel but our world is changed. (Freaking terrorists!)

    I thought about that, too, in

    I thought about that, too, in the moment. But I realized that if it had been a bomb, we both would have been dead anyway. Have you ever tried to exit the Union Square station on a good day? In a panic, it would be nearly impossible.

    subway knitter

    Sorry the explosions that happened a week ago are inconveniencing you. Anything else bothering you? Please let us know what we can do to help... it's all about you.

    The bigger issue

    is that people aren't using their common sense in identifying potential bombs. See something, spend a few seconds thinking over why that item might be there, then say something.