Philly commuters chime in on local security after Brussels bombings: ‘They’re making it too dramatic’

Charles Mostoller

Metro spoke to commuters Wednesday in the wake of the deadly terror attack in the Belgian capital, and Philadelphians we interviewed said they won’t let the bombings deter them from their everyday obligations.

“I still take the subway. People should live their lives as normal,” said Angelina Matos, a mother of three from 3rd and Porter streets in South Philly, who was pushing a stroller at Broad Street and Snyder Avenue Wednesday morning.

“They’re making it too dramatic,” she said of news reports that broke Tuesday of heightened security around town.

“I don’t think the police in Philadelphia are good, but the bombing in Brussels, that don’t bother me,” she said.

On Tuesday, hours after ISIS claimed responsibility for the deadliest assault on the European heartland since the attacks on Paris four months ago, local transit police took quick action in upping their security forces.

SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel said Philadelphians can expect to see police more visibly around town and urged people – “if you see something, say something.”

Bus, subway and train riders seemed to be of normal volume during rush hours Wednesday.

RELATED:SEPTA boosts security measures at home in wake of Belgian terror attacks

Yvonne Yarborough, an unemployed, elderly woman who lives on Snyder Avenue, was boarding the bus when she said she appreciated the measures both SEPTA and the transit police were taking.

“I’m afraid for my grandchildren, too,” she said.

“I think the police are doing the right thing. They can do a lot better, but for now, they’re taking a big step – a big, major step.”

With the Democratic National Convention coming in July, law enforcement authorities are more sensitive to targets in Philadelphia. Questions remain if the city’s hosting the convention puts it at any greater risk for an attack than it would be otherwise.

Dan Trotter, a resident of 15th Street near Jackson Street inSouth Philly, said he rode the subway Wednesday and the day before, like he does everyday.

“The world is scary everyday, but we have to keep our heads up and try to move on,” he said.

“I think that’s what the terrorists want – is for us to be afraid. They strike randomly. It makes us afraid of public places – the places we lead our lives.”

Butch Ludwig, a bartender at a downtown restaurant who commutes from Mount Laurel, New Jersey, said, “They’ll up security for two weeks, and after that, they’ll just let it go again. That’s it. That’s the bottom line. It’s all smoke and mirrors. They’ll forget about it until the next incident.”

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Karl Schappell, of 19th and Ritner streets in South Philly, lived in London when the Irish Republican Army bombed the city in the 1990s.

He told Metro one IRA attack actually blew out the back window of his house in London one time.

“But I’ll always use the subway,” he said.

“First of all, you can’t be afraid. You can’t live your life in fear. My ex was from Belfast, who grew up during The Troubles. I was there when the Omagh bombing happened in Belfast, so I’m really hyperaware of terrorism and the fact that you just can’t change your life. You can’t. If you allow fear to go into everything you do, you’re not living your life.”

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