Mountain View Voice

News - May 6, 2011

Quiet local reaction to bin Laden's death

by Nick Veronin

Rowdy celebrations took place outside the White House after Sunday's surprise announcement from President Barack Obama that a team of U.S. Navy SEALs had killed Osama bin Laden in a firefight Pakistan. Closer to home, the reaction was far more subdued.

Bin Laden, the Al-Qaida leader who masterminded the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, has eluded capture for almost a decade.

"I believe he was an evil man," Mayor Jac Siegel said on Monday. "You can't kill people because they have a different ideology. I believe the world is a better place without that evil person here."

Siegel said he wanted to make it clear that "Islam is not evil and Muslims are not evil. This is clearly not a war with Islam or Muslims. People tend to think that way and that's wrong."

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, commended America's military and intelligence community for tracking down bin Laden.

"It was a great relief to hear the news that Osama bin Laden was taken after an almost decade-long hunt. No one could have received this news with greater relief than the families who lost their loved ones in the worst attack in our nation's history," Eshoo said in a statement. "When America decides to do something, we have the capacity and the tenacity to do so. We can finally say, 'mission accomplished.'"

Employees at three downtown Mountain View pubs said that it was business as usual Sunday night, even as throngs of people gathered in public spaces in Washington D.C. and New York City to celebrate the news of Osama bin Laden's death.

Maya Worley-Mann, a manager at Tied House said that a patron broke the news to the rest of the restaurant and bar. "Oh, my God! Osama bin Laden is dead," Worley-Mann said, quoting the patron.

That was about the extent of the reaction, Worley-Mann said. "I think everybody was almost entranced by it."

Bartenders working Sunday night at Molly MaGee's and St. Stephen's Green — both located on Castro Street — said that crowds were no larger than usual.

A bartender at Molly MaGee's said that it took a while for the news to trickle into the bar, as the televisions inside had been tuned to sports, and that most of the patrons were sitting outside on the patio. The bartender, who asked not to be identified, said that a few patrons did order shots specifically to commemorate the occasion.

Transit agencies around the country and in the Bay Area responded to the news by bulking up security measures. According to an official from the Valley Transportation Authority, local bus and train operators, as well as security officers will be on heightened alert.

"On a regular basis we are all always looking for any suspicious behavior or packages," said Jennie Loft, a VTA spokeswoman. "In light of what happened over the weekend we are even more vigilant."

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