Bizarre WFTV segment calls Lake Eola a terrorist 'soft target'

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PHOTO BY ROB BARTLETT
  • Photo by Rob Bartlett
Following Monday's bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, U.K., local television station WFTV stated in an extraordinary segment, that on any given day, downtown's Lake Eola Park could be a target for terrorists.

In the segment, "Security expert breaks down safety at Orlando venues, parks," WFTV's Karla Ray calls upon security expert Zach Hudson to point out that the bridge in International Plaza at Lake Eola has multiple choke points, therefore it's a terrorist "soft target."

“These are all choke points. You have hundreds of people who would pass through a particular area like that. That’s a choke point,” said Hudson to WFTV.  

Here's the bridge Hudson is referring to:
According to Hudson, other possible Orlando terrorist soft targets include the theme parks, the Amway Center, Orlando City Soccer Stadium, and Church Street– pretty much every Orlando destination that's fun.

Now, a soft target is defined as "a person or thing that is relatively unprotected or vulnerable, especially to military or terrorist attack," meaning you could argue that almost any place and any thing could be a "soft target" if you label it as such.

While the segment suggests that extra security measures should be put in place at local venues – like screening people before they even park their car at events, and that you should be constantly aware/paranoid of things like trash cans – no tangible advice is given for preventing attacks in public places like Lake Eola.

This raises the question, what's the point of this story? I can't speak for WFTV, but one could argue the reason this piece exists rhymes with "beer mongering." Essentially, all we can take away from this segment is that terrorists love crowds, anyone could be a "terrorist," and don't go out in public.

Look, it's par for the course for local media to localize a major story, but there's a fine line between giving context to a tragedy, and sensationalizing it to the point you're just trying to scare people from walking around a musical fountain.

Maybe we should just let people enjoy the park for what it is before we start installing metal detectors at the Sunday farmers market.

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