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Durham administrator in lockdown at Harvard this morning

By Gretyl Macalaster
Union Leader Correspondent

April 19. 2013 10:25AM

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Durham Administrator Todd Selig has been at the Harvard Kennedy School this week for an executive course in negotiations.

As of 10 a.m. Friday morning, he and 50 other participants in the program were being “sheltered in place” at the graduate apartments in which they have been residing since Sunday.

Speaking by cell phone around 9:30 a.m. on Friday, Selig said Harvard Kennedy School staff came door to door around 6:15 a.m. asking everyone to stay inside until further notice, and have been sending email updates throughout the morning.

Selig said around 9:45 a.m., things had gone quiet, but for hours before, he could hear the constant scream of sirens flying by to nearby Watertown, where SWAT teams have been on scene all morning looking for a second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings on Monday.

Selig said he and his apartment-mate have water, but all meals had been provided by the Kennedy School.

"Fortunately we have a bag of Trader Joe’s beef jerky and some airplane peanuts, so we are roughing it here at the Harvard Kennedy School," Selig said.

As of 10 a.m., Harvard School staff said they were working with local law enforcement to get food to the participants.

Selig reported to Boston for the program on Sunday afternoon, and classes began on Monday.

Shortly after the explosions at the Marathon, everyone was ordered to evacuate the Kennedy School Government Building.

“There had been an incident at the Kennedy Library and they thought at the time that it was related, and so the Cambridge Police Department told us to evacuate the Kennedy School in case the compound was targeted, because of the Kennedy name,” Selig said.

Although the fire at the library turned out to be unrelated, the building remained closed for the day.

Selig said there was a heavy police presence in Cambridge throughout Monday night, and participants were told if they went out to dinner, not to bring any backpacks, because the police would be on high alert.

Public transportation was also shut down.

The program resumed on Tuesday and was supposed to conclude today, but was again disrupted.

“We are all waiting inside, and as I look out the window, there is no activity outside, but we can hear sirens, and I’m saying lots of sirens screaming through the city,” Selig said.

The border with Watertown is less than two blocks from the Kennedy School, Selig said, although he was unsure where in Watertown all the current activity was taking place.

Selig said being in a class with people from so many different parts of the world has provided some unique perspective on the situation.

One professor talked of students in her class from countries in the Middle East where attacks like the one on the Boston Marathon happen multiple times each week, and spoke of how different it is here in the United States, where one attack can raise so much interest and activity.

“Of course what was going through my mind was I want to be in a country where this is the exception not the rule and fortunately we are in a country like that in the United States,” Selig said.

The situation has also been discussed in the negotiation course.

“Negotiation isn’t only asserting one’s position, but also the skill of de-escalating conflict and these types of terrorist actions are just the antithesis of what we’re trying to accomplish through active negotiation,” Selig said. “Clearly in this case, the people responsible, for whatever reason, were not interested in negotiation, they were interested in harmful action and it was just so unfortunate,” Selig said.

Selig is scheduled to take the 5 p.m. Amtrak DownEaster train back to Durham, but said right now it is unclear whether the trains will be running. If they are not, Durham Police Chief David Kurz offered to pick Selig up.

“I don’t know whether anyone other than a police officer can get through right now, because everything is just shut down,” Selig said.

Public Safety Durham

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