Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Protest in the U.S.: challenging the system is not generally tolerated

John Friedmann's Planning in the Public Domain is an interesting book because he outlines how to do "radical" planning in the context of existing system of government and political action. He distinguishes radical from "revolutionary" planning, as the latter challenges the precepts and existence of the political system.
Basic Concepts, Planning in the Public Domain

Government, especially the police/coercive power of the state function, is focused on system maintenance.
An "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrator is arrested during a demonstration in response to an early morning police raid which displaced Occupy Oakland's tent city in Oakland, California October 25, 2011. REUTERS/Stephen Lam.

Protest, such as the Occupy Wall Street movement, in places including Oakland, California ("Ousted protestors marching back to Frank Ogawa Plaza" from the Oakland Tribune), Chicago, Illinois, Richmond, Virginia, Atlanta ("Atlanta police clear protesters from Woodruff Park" from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution), and New York City, has been challenged in terms of the ability to stay overnight--24/7 protest, to the extent where in Oakland, people were driven out by tear gas.

Focusing on the "rules"--parks are closed at night, etc.--is a classic bureaucratic perspective towards maintaining the system, rather than allowing for flexible spaces where challenge can be accommodated.

In college I was very much interested in cognitive, affective, and moral development theory. The "police function" of government is very much a function of Kohlberg's stage 4, with the focus on following the rules and maintaining social order. So the police oriented reaction is not a surprise.
Kohlberg's stages of moral development
Although it's ironic, given the support of political elites for challenges to government overseas, such as the Arab Spring movement.

This Ted Rall editorial cartoon from 2004 is still apt today.
Ted Rall editorial cartoon, 12/2/2004

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