How the privatization of the public sphere criminalizes/encloses the #OccupyWallStreet protest commons

David Bollier explains why we should read the article below:

A fascinating blog post on how the police (acting on behalf of business) seeks to limit and privatize public spaces in order to stifle protest against enclosures. In other words, repression of protest is an act of enclosure itself — and literally occurs when the state requires a “permit to protest” and the police push people off the commons of public spaces into “private” spaces so that they can arrest (and de-legitimize) them. In short, the post makes a nice link between the Occupy movement and the commons.

Excerpted from Maniza Naqvi:

(do read the whole article!)

“People, protests, property, parks, public, private, police, prisons, press, politics and permits. To those who are tone deaf these sound like disparate slogans. But the Occupy Wall Street protest movement across the country and across the globe has shown that these are all issues that can be funneled into one or two over arching concerns.

An overarching issue is the public versus private ownership in everything from police to politicians to parks to property all over the planet in its cities and its villages. Whether it is a military or it is police the purpose seems to be to serve this end of privatization.

The reaction by the law enforcement agencies to the protests have proven that people protesting the occupation or privatization of public property are viewed as criminals by the privately owned 21st century state. In Times Square it felt like the eleventh hour in terms of urgency with people protesting this alarming trend. In the eleventh hour of the 21st century in Times Square: I watched the police pushing the barricades even further in on the sidewalk cramming the demonstrators even further on an already narrow space and creating a potential crisis if the crowd got jammed in and someone fell or a stampede broke out because of all the police on horseback. The police steadily pushed back the barricades and diminished the space where protesters could stand and it seemed that the cops by doing this were forcing the crowds to overflow onto the street and creating the pretense for arresting people for not remaining within the designated area for the protests. As I watched this situation at Time Square I thought of all the fences and blockades and barricades in other parts of the world where people are squeezed off of their lands—their homelands—their homes razed to the ground and bulldozed turned into private properties—while the people are forced into dangerous environments—flood basins or coastlands or unwelcoming hostile cities in their own or foreign countries—in the path of disaster—or into cities where they have no chance of incomes—living in ghettos—begging, living on the streets homeless—only to be further abused and harassed by police and militaries.

This is a global trend of a not so slow and steady move of diminishing public space, this creeping movement to eradicate the public. Now it’s all about this isn’t it: the privatization of public goods and the use of police to protect private property? The protesting of this without a permit is considered a crime.”

2 Comments How the privatization of the public sphere criminalizes/encloses the #OccupyWallStreet protest commons

  1. Avatarjim costanzo

    This posting addresses important core issues so I would like to draw attention to another threat to our commons, as well as, our per to per practices. The Internet has become as vital as water and air to our physical persons. It is something that is ubiquitous while often being taken for granted. Today the Internet is our basic form of communication, our quickest access to free speech and in some ways the quintessential universal commons.

    In addition to the Aaron Burr Society’s history and our involvement with OWS, we have been working with our friend Paul Garrin who has been working to keep access to the Internet as part of the commons. In 1996 Paul wrote “This race toward ‘privatization’ is taking place behind closed doors and in corporate boardrooms, well outside the sphere of public debate, and threatens the very existence of free speech over electronic networks.”;jsessionid=D31A1BAB0F0209593DD5C4944C72628E?dossierid=22375&subdossierid=206038&articleid=206196

    Paul is an artist & cultural producer who in 1996 started Name.Space to register top-level domain names. In 2003 he started WIFINY to provide broadband Internet access as an alternative portal and to provide access to underserved communities. Both companies are based on the Social Enterprise model. This means that serving the common good is built into the business model. One of the important goals for each company is to empower local communities by providing the digital tools that can be used to create sustainable, self-sufficiency.

    Both of these companies are currently working to both expand and protect access to the Internet. One of the more interesting developments will involve next year’s applications for top-level domain names. For more information go to the websites listed below.

    In the spirit of full disclosure, Paul is a charter member of the Aaron Burr Society and he has been my Internet provider since the last century. And, as previously stated, I have been working with Paul on these endeavors.

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