LETTER: Resident Opposes Filming Recreation of Watertown Shootout

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Dear Mr. Driscoll and Councilors Sideris, Dattoli, Falkoff, Palomba, Kounelis, Feltner, Piccirilli, Woodland, and Dushku,

I am writing to oppose the re-creation and filming of gun battle scenes for the movie “Patriots Day” on Laurel Street in Watertown. I live near-by on Boylston Street — close enough that my husband heard the sound of the shootout as it happened, close enough to be woken by the sounds of helicopters over my house that night.

When I learned that the five nights of filming planned on Laurel Street within ear shot of my home would be loud, including gunshots until midnight, I felt angry and anxious. I wondered — who would allow this to happen in our town?!

As I learned more, I felt the tears fill my eyes. I flashed back to that day and the feelings of anxiety I had when wondering how I could possibly contain my almost 2-year old daughter in the hallway of our apartment — the only part of the house without windows that could shatter if a bomb went off outside. I recalled the sense of danger I felt when watching the National Guard troops drive past our house in their tanks and armored trucks to set up a post at the intersection of two roads three houses away. I thought about the fear I felt watching the troops – ducked behind shields with large guns drawn and pointed at my house, fingers on the triggers — as they approached my home.

My family and I, our neighbors, and our community experienced terror and trauma that day. My sense of safety, security, and control was threatened. It took me awhile to regain a sense of normalcy and to feel safe again. I felt anxious for several weeks when going out into my driveway and basement at night — I still sometimes feel that way. I also still feel anxious every time I hear helicopters overhead.

My feelings that day and since that day — and my reactions to hearing about the planned re-creation on Laurel Street — are classic signs of a post-trauma reaction. When faced with events that trigger memories of trauma, feelings of anxiety, stress, fear, and anger are common. I am not alone in this experience. The re-creation of the scene on Laurel Street has the potential to re-traumatize me and others in the community, causing unnecessary suffering. If it goes forward, I will worry about it until it is over. It will probably take me time to recover my sense of safety, security, and control — as it did after the original events.

We know a great deal about the impact of traumatic stress on the brain and body. It is not only inappropriate, but harmful to engage in activities that could re-traumatize people. At a minimum, no one who experiences trauma should be re-traumatized and made to re-experience the sense of terror and anxiety they originally felt, however unintentional it may be.

Is filming the scenes here really worth the possible risk to us and our neighbors and the sense of security in our neighborhood? There is nothing anyone could tell me to convince me it is worth it.

My husband and I moved to Watertown almost 9 years ago because of its central location. We have stayed because of the friends and neighbors we have met and the feeling we have of being supported and cared about by the town and community. I hope the filmmakers from CBS Films, those working on this issue for our town, and those elected to represent us when making decisions for our town will consider the impact the re-creation will have on us and decide to film the Laurel Street scenes outside of Watertown.


Christina Murphy

11 thoughts on “LETTER: Resident Opposes Filming Recreation of Watertown Shootout

  1. Absolutely agree and might I add the nights events were not just limited to a few blocks as rifles were pointed at my children and myself as they swept the neighborhood across Mount Auburn street. I’m hopeful that the town will do what’s right for the community who has invested and chosen to live here.

  2. Very well-written, Christina. You have definitely put words to so much of what I have been feeling since I heard of this. I am also concerned about my children’s reactions as they vividly recall that day as well. Not to mention that they will be in school during that week while their sleep is interrupted by loud noises and gun shots until midnight. My son goes to bed at 8pm and already has difficulty sleeping due to ASD, which then leads to difficulty getting up and going to school. With the increased noise, I am sure this will be even more difficult for him. I am sure I am not the only parent of school-age children in the area who has these concerns.

  3. I was interviewed by the associated press yesterday, and when asked if I had an issue with it, I responded “no”. I said so long as they stay true to the story, the victims, the officers, and the town, I personally didn’t feel any reason for it not to happen. I support the idea of money being made by the network to be shared with the victims and their families.
    I live on Spruce St, I saw 17 cars going 60mph down my street, I recorded the gun fight, I had the bomb squad investigate a strange object directly in front of my home, I had a restless 3 year old at the time, I had the huge men with guns drawn IN my home, and I met Krystles’ Mom, who is friends with my 2nd fl neighbor after she, along with Martin and Lu lost their lives. It was awful, scary, sad, and left a lot of unanswered questions.
    There was and still is a lot of devastation in the events that happened, but in the end, you cannot speak for the victims, the town, the neighbors, or the community. Each individual will have their opinion and feelings. Mine is that I never want to relive those feelings or that day. With that, I don’t feel that having a movie recreating those events will bring those feelings back. Again, that is me speaking for me.

  4. Hi, I live at the corner of Laurel and Dexter and have had multiple conversations with my neighbors and the majority of us agree that if the story is to be told then it should be authentic.
    While I was certainly terrified by the nights events, I was home during it all. It was nothing compared to what the people at the finish line experienced. I still keep those people and families in my prayers.
    This is a story depicting not the terrorists but the way that our first responders and communities came together.
    I’m sorry for the stress and anxiety some of you feel. I certainly understand. It was months before I would go in my basement or attic alone. I still struggle occasionally. The random unexpected loud noise still make me jump.
    But the noise that they will be making during the shootout is much less. They brought one of the “weapons” that will be used during filming to the meeting for the immediate residents on 2/12. They shot it off in the room with us, not too loud at all. It’s no louder than fireworks. This will be expected so no one should be surprised as it will not be unexpected.
    If the people whom it affected in the immediate area, those if us who actually live on Laurel St. are ok with it……

    • As a Watertown resident I certainly have concerns. However, this is a piece of history which hopefully will not happen in our home town. (or any town, city, for that matter). I do not object to this reenactment. CBS should pay for anywhere the concerned homeowners on Laurel St., etc. wish to be when this takes place. Also, for any damages incurred to their homes or property.

  5. I’m a Watertown residen and also remember the reverse 911 call at 3 in the morning that told us all to stay indoors while on TV the horrible events unfolded. For most of the day, none of us knew where the suspect was and I’m guessing many wondered if he was in their neighborhood. I found the experience incredibly frightening and also felt the trauma of that day well afterwards.

    I find the media in general can be incredibly insensitive to people impacted by these events. For example, the local TV news kept repeating the clip of the bombing, and I can only imagine how the families of the people whose family members were killed or injured felt to see this being displayed over and over again.

    Others may feel ok with the film crew coming into town – to each his own. But I don’t understand why anyone would feel strongly to argue for it, especially knowing that others in their own community would experience this as a re- traumatizing event.

    There are ways to gather money to support the victims of these unfortunate events that don’t re traumatize our community.

  6. I don’t want it either. THAT was a scare day,we couldn’t leave our house and when we did we had to hurry back because we heard gun shooting.

  7. Why do they need to use the actual street where it happened to re-create the scene? You can use any similar street in the state, or in the country, for that matter. They do this kind of thing all the time in the film industry

  8. Our service men and women have to return home only to hear the repetition of loud explosions, even fireworks during the 4th of July. I, personally know some of these people who still aren’t able to enjoy any 4th of July celebrations because of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. However, this fact doesn’t seem to matter to any film industries to recreate history of wars, etc. Hence, I would think CBS is trying to recreate another, albeit piece of true history.

  9. What happened to filming on a set.?!! Enough people were traumatized and don’t need to go re-live these events. Christina captured my feelings about this very well. I hope the town thinks better of retraumatizing its citizens for the money the filming will bring in.

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