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Providing Security in Times of Terror

November 10, 2002

My heartfelt sympathy goes out to the family of Grigory Burban, who lost his life in the Moscow theater taken over by Chechen rebels (Nov. 6). While I think many lives, including Burban's, might have been saved had the Russians been better prepared to treat the hostages affected by the gas pumped into the theater, I believe the rebel action could have been avoided had the theater provided adequate security for its patrons.

Six months ago my wife and I were in the same theater, attending a performance of "Nord-Ost," the production that was in progress when the Chechen rebels staged their takeover. I recall entering the theater prior to the performance and noting that there was no visible security. That lack struck me as being odd, given the armed security personnel I had grown accustomed to seeing at other public gatherings. While we go out into the world at our own risk, I think that performing arts spaces, no less than sports stadiums, need to have the safety of their audiences uppermost in their minds and take measures to discourage a repeat of the Moscow tragedy.

Weston DeWalt

Pasadena

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