Terror attacks evoke solidarity, concerns in Harford, vows not to be cowered in Paris

Parisians vow to go on with their lives and not be cowered by Friday's deadly terrorist attacks in one of the city's entertainment centers, according to a former Harford County resident who lives in the French capital.

In Harford, meanwhile, community leaders expressed solidarity with the French people, while also raising some cautions about security close to home.

Jennifer Hutt, who grew up in Harford and has lived in Paris since 2005, lives just outside the city, but she regularly visits, for work or entertainment, the 10th Arrondissement, where Friday's attacks occurred. She also lived in that neighborhood when she arrived in Paris.

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"When I moved to Paris, I lived 100 meters from where this happened," Hutt, a former reporter and editor for The Aegis, said Monday night via Skype, the online video-chatting service.

At least 129 people died and 352 more were injured after fighters affiliated with the radical Syria-based Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, attacked six locations in and around Paris Friday night. The attacks occurred in several restaurants and the Bataclan concert hall.


The suspects attacked with suicide bombs and assault rifles. Most of the victims were killed and injured at the Bataclan, where the American rock band Eagles of Death Metal was playing.

Hutt said the ISIS suspects "deliberately went after the young, the cultural center of 30-to-40-year-olds in Paris."

"We are very, very, very, very intent on continuing our lives, continuing our work, continuing our relationships with each other, and above all we are intent to not let feelings of hate enter into our emotions, because I think that being angry about this is the bad response," she said.

Havre de Grace city leaders expressed their solidarity with the French people Monday night, when they displayed a blue, white and red French national flag, Le Tricolore, in front of the dais, during Monday's City Council meeting.

In Bel Air, outgoing Town Commissioner Edward Hopkins, who is the county's director of emergency services, mentioned the Paris attacks as he talked about efforts by town officials to prepare for disasters, including terror attacks or "active shooter" incidents.


"What happened in Paris could very easily happen here," Hopkins said, while delivering a farewell speech during Monday's commissioners' meeting. "Bel Air is a sleepy little town, but that doesn't mean somebody is not going to wake up on the wrong side of the bed some day and want to cause us harm; we need to be prepared for that."

Harford County Public Schools officials have evaluated the situation, including Internet warnings from ISIS about future attacks on Washington, D.C., but have decided not to cancel planned student field trips to the nation's capital or other locations, a spokesperson said.

"Based on intelligence sources reviewed by our coordinator of safety and security, there is no specific or credible threat that would lead us to cancel field trips to Washington, D.C., at this time," HCPS Manager of Communications Jillian Lader said in an email Tuesday. "We continue to evaluate the situation and will provide information to parents and guardians should the need arise to cancel any future field trips."

Lader noted "parents and guardians retain the right to withhold their student from a field trip, should they wish to do so."

'Attacking France'

Hutt, 40, and her 6-year-old son had planned to attend a concert Friday night at another venue in the Paris neighborhood where the attacks took place, but she ended up staying home to care for a friend, visiting from Italy, who was sick.

"I felt obligated to stay home with her that night," she said. "Otherwise, I would have been right in the middle of it all with my 6-year-old son."

Hutt is a violinist, singer, composer and the founder of MUMI Prod, a collective of freelance composers who produce music for film, television and advertising.

She grew up in Jarrettsville and graduated from C. Milton Wright High School in 1992. She earned a degree in theater from Towson University. She covered Harford County government for The Aegis from 1997 to 2002.

Marylanders in Baltimore and Annapolis sang and prayed Monday to publicly voice their love and support for the families, friends and nations of the 129 people in France and 40 in Lebanon killed in terrorist attacks late last week.

The coordinated attacks happened between 9:20 p.m. and 9:53 p.m. Paris time. Hutt said she was working on a composition Friday night and "everything was turned off," so she did not hear about the attacks until about 11 p.m., when her son's father, from whom she is divorced, called her on her landline phone.

"He called me and he said, 'Are you all right, are you all right?'" Hutt recalled. "He said, 'They're attacking in France.'"

She said she turned her cell phone on, and "I had a ton of calls from a lot of friends saying, 'Where are you, are you all right, are you safe?'"

She said she then got more news about the attacks from the Internet and television reports.

Paris had already been through a terrorist attack in January, when jihadists attacked the offices of the magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher market. People all over the world adopted the phrase "Je suis Charlie," or "I am Charlie," to express solidarity with the victims of the January attacks.

Hutt said Parisians are now using the phrase "Je suis en terrasse," or "I am on the terrace" to reclaim their right to enjoy a meal in one of the city's many sidewalk cafes, similar to the establishments attacked Friday.

"These people were just sitting there, outside of a restaurant eating dinner, and they lost their lives," she said.

Police 'everywhere'

The French government has declared a state of emergency, and military aircraft have bombed ISIS strongholds in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the self-declared capital of the large sections of Iraq and Syria that have been under the group's control since 2014.

ISIS has also claimed responsibility for bombing a Russian commercial airliner over Egypt and deadly bombings in Beirut, Lebanon, which both preceded the Paris attacks.

Although ISIS claims it is fighting on behalf of Muslims around the world, Hutt said her Muslim friends in France are "disgusted" about the attacks.

"They're completely disgusted," she said. "This is not Islam, this is cowardice, and these people are crazy."

Hutt said she has seen police "everywhere," along the highways, at highway entrances and on the city's Metro train system.

Hutt said schools have been on lockdown since the attacks, and they are closed to visitors after parents drop off their children in the morning. She said parents cannot park in front of school buildings and all field trips have been canceled.

"The kids can't go anywhere for a month," she said.

Hutt said her son has been talking about the attacks and been playing with action figures dressed in police riot gear.

"The hardest thing has been trying to guide our kids through all of this and to explain to them to not be afraid, to not associate this with Muslims," she said.

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