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.