The Right to the City: Social Justice and the Fight for Public Space

The Right to the City: Social Justice and the Fight for Public Space

The Right to the City: Social Justice and the Fight for Public Space

The Right to the City: Social Justice and the Fight for Public Space

Synopsis

"Presented are a series of linked cases that explore the judicial response to public demonstrations by early twentieth-century workers, and comparable legal issues surrounding anti-abortion protests today; the Free Speech Movement and the history of People's Park in Berkeley; and the plight of homeless people facing new laws against their presence in urban streets. The central focus is how political dissent gains meaning and momentum - and is regulated and policed - in the real, physical spaces of the city." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

On the Sunday following the horrific terrorist plane crash attacks of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, the New York Times ran a full-page feature story asking what it would take to make New York's “public spaces safe from attack” (Barstow 2001, 1:16). The Times interviewed “nine security and terrorism experts” to “envision a New York City of maximum security where money was no object in the pursuit of safety.” The discussion was compelling. “Security options once dismissed as unpalatable, impractical or too expensive would be embraced,” the Times wrote. “There would be long lines and intrusive and random searches, new identification systems and a strange new vocabulary of terms like biometrics, bollards, bomb mitigation containers and smart doors.” One of the experts said, plainly, that “You would have to develop a fortress mind-set” (quoted in Barstow 2001, 1:16).

To some extent, New Yorkers have been preparing for that mind-set for quite some time. Well before September 11, public space had already been significantly fortified—or at least radically transformed—in the name of security over the past generation. Parks had been reconstructed and fenced, and special enclosed areas for children and their guardians had been established. The policing of public spaces ranging in size from small squares to fairly large urban parks and train stations had been turned over to private police forces paid for by, and under the direction of, Business Improvement Districts. New strictures on behavior had become not only commonplace but also expected (and always indicated . . .

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