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In Prospect Heights, More Caution than Jubilation at Bin Laden's Death

Among residents and area workers, reaction ran from mildly pleased at the symbolic value to skeptical that bin Laden is actually dead.

Crowds may have been jubilant over the death of Osama bin Laden and in  Times Square, but in Prospect Heights, those polled were either mildly pleased at the news’ symbolic value or skeptical that bin Laden is actually dead. 

“I think in terms of a public event it is very significant,” said Greg Dibelius, a 27-year-old medical student who was shooting hoops at Dean Street Playground.

While he thinks terrorism is “basically at the same level,” Dibelius said, “I think it’s a good moment for the families who suffered losses. I think anything you can give them that gives them any closure, I think that’s pretty powerful,” he said.

David Golden, who was at Dean Street Playground with his 2-year-old son Jeremy, agreed.

“I don’t know if it’s going to substantially change the dynamics of terrorism in the world.” But, he added, “I think it’s been a goal of the U.S. for a long time and for that reason it feels like a sense of accomplishment."

At the Dean Street Firehouse, Engine Company 219, Ladder Company 105, which lost seven men on Sept. 11 – Firefighters Henry Miller, Frank Palomro, Thomas Kelly, Dennis O'Berg, John Chipura, Robert Linnane and Captain Vincent Brunton – activities were proceeding as usual, with no sign of celebration or jubilation. As a crew cleaned a firetruck several declined to comment, saying they weren't authorized to speak to the press.

Down the street, at a local deli, some said they were unmoved by the news.

“It doesn’t matter to me. It took them 10 years to capture him. I don’t see the big deal,” said Andrew, a 23-year-old construction worker at Atlantic Yards who declined to give his last name.

And others were outright skeptical.

“Was he even killed?” said Frank Sierra, a 30-year-old construction worker at Atlantic Yards who was at a Bergen Street deli on his lunch break.

“I hope it’s true,” said Mariel Miele, 29 and also an Atlantic Yards construction worker on lunch break. She said she wouldn’t be surprised if the announcement was just an effort to divert the public’s attention from soaring gas prices, but if it is true, she hopes will inspire some other countries to help the U.S. in Afghanistan.

Louis Gonzalez , who was working the deli’s counter, was also skeptical. “I don’t think he died. They say that, but there are no pictures."

Gonalez said announcing that bin Laden is dead would give the U.S. the excuse to fully pull out of Afghanistan. And, he added, “Maybe Obama will pick up some of the (approval) points he’s been losing.”

Eugenio Moquete, a 17-year-old high school student who lives on Underhill Avenue, agreed. “I think I need a little bit of hard-core evidence. Rumors spread fast but I am not as likely to believe it,” he said. 

Opal Stephenson, who eating lunch with her daughter at Fish and Sip Café, was most concerned about potential reprisals.

“It’s a relief for America but I’m scared. What if Al Qaeda wants to retaliate? Eliminating the leader does not eliminate the whole group. I’m wondering if I can travel safely,” she said.

“I’m glad he’s out of the way,” she added, “but I’m worried about the next step.”

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