Is the Notion of Public Space a Myth?

  • #1
As I see more and more Occupy Protests getting evicted, I wonder if there is no such thing as public space. There is government space, their is private space but their is nothing that is truly public space. If a permit is required for people to use a piece of space then it isn't public space it is either government space or private space.

If their is no public space, where can people peacefully assemble and protest. Is the right to protest only a right as long as the people who own the space allow you to use the space to protest?
 
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  • #2
Evo
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As I see more and more Occupy Protests getting evicted, I wonder if there is no such thing as public space. There is government space, their is private space but their is nothing that is truly public space. If a permit is required for people to use a piece of space then it isn't public space it is either government space or private space.

If their is no public space, where can people peacefully assemble and protest. Is the right to protest only a right as long as the people who own the space allow you to use the space to protest?
There is public space, but to make it fair to all, any large gatherings usually need a permit. This makes sure that your group does not block access to other people that wish to enjoy the public place, that sanitation, crowd control, cleanup, etc... are taken into account.
 
  • #3
russ_watters
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In other words, if you allow the protesters to stay as long as they want, you've turned public space into the protester's private space.
 
  • #4
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In other words, if you allow the protesters to stay as long as they want, you've turned public space into the protester's private space.

If a select group over-indulges on their rights - they take away from (or restrict) everyone else's rights.:wink:
 
  • #5
If a select group over-indulges on their rights - they take away from (or restrict) everyone else's rights.:wink:

I don't know what it is like elsewhere. Here in Calgary I haven't really noticed the protesters but they are small scale here. Of course If I had an event planed for the park I might find it an inconvenience. However, if people need to plan events why can't they use private space? The occupy protests are peaceful so anyone can use the space. The fact that in some areas people find them an inconvenience means that a lot of people attend so a lot of people think the cause is important.

I suppose though there is only so much space for tents so we can debate as to whether tents are a reasonable use of public space. For homeless people however they have no private space so why should they be restricted from public space.
 
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  • #6
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There is public space, but to make it fair to all, any large gatherings usually need a permit. This makes sure that your group does not block access to other people that wish to enjoy the public place, that sanitation, crowd control, cleanup, etc... are taken into account.

If the founders of the U.S. had been nice obedient types who applied to King George for a permit, we'd still be servants of the crown.

If the black students in Greensboro in 1960 had obeyed the law and got up when asked to leave a whites-only Woolworth's lunch counter, blacks would still be sitting in the back of the bus today.

Civil disobedience and disobeying the law are necessary in order to create social change. If you apply for a permit and your application is turned down, do you just go home and say, "Oh well I guess the status quo is ok after all?" Or do you non-violently disobey the law?

Study some history and learn how change happens.
 
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  • #7
Evo
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If the founders of the U.S. had been nice obedient types who applied to King George for a permit, we'd still be servants of the crown.

If the black students in Greensboro in 1960 had obeyed the law and got up when asked to leave a whites-only Woolworth's lunch counter, blacks would still be sitting in the back of the bus today.

Civil disobedience and disobeying the law are necessary in order to create social change. If you apply for a permit and your application is turned down, do you just go home and say, "Oh well I guess the status quo is ok after all?" Or do you non-violently disobey the law?

Study some history and learn how change happens.
Study the law. Illegal demonstrations will just get you arrested. I can't believe that you're attempting to compare human rights to a social media gathering that doesn't even have an agenda.

The right of free expression is not an absolute right to express ourselves at any time, in any place, in any manner. For example, we do not necessarily have a right to hold a large rally at midnight outside a hospital. While we may have the right to march in a parade or on a city street, we may not have the right to decide the exact time or route. The government has the authority to make reasonable restrictions on the time, place, and manner of certain speech activities if there is a compelling reason to do so.

Demonstrations and Rallies in Parks
Public parks are our most traditional public forums. Currently, state park regulations may require reservations or permits for large demonstrations and rallies or for the use of sound equipment. Apply for a permit from the city, county, or state parks department well in advance of the event. If your permit is denied, you must be told why and be provided an opportunity to appeal the denial.

The government may limit demonstrations of extremely long duration, if the regulations are designed to ensure that the park is not unduly monopolized or damaged. For example, the court approved of a National Park Service regulation prohibiting demonstrators from sleeping overnight in Lafayette Park across from the White House4. Late night demonstrations may also be curtailed if the park is closed to the public after a certain time.

http://www.aclu-wa.org/news/street-speech-your-rights-washington-parade-picket-and-leaflet

This addresses laws in Washington state, you need to check the specific state and local laws for each location.
 
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  • #8
795
7
Study the law.

Can you address my specific examples?

* The American revolution violated British law. Should the colonists have tamely submitted to the rule of King George, and remained British subjects to this day?

* Blacks were not allowed to sit at lunch counters or sit in the front of the bus if a white person wanted the seat. That was the law. Should American blacks in the 60's have submitted to the rule of law, and remained sitting in the back of the bus and using blacks-only restrooms, water fountains, and other public accommodations, to this day?

Do you acknowledge the moral correctness of violating the law under any circumstances at all?
 
  • #9
DaveC426913
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:desperately scrambles around for Flex's ejection seat:
 
  • #10
Evo
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Can you address my specific examples?
Post something on topic first. BTW, posting off topic is against the rules, don't do it again.
 
  • #11
DaveC426913
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Post something on topic first. BTW, posting off topic is against the rules, don't do it again.
In case you think Evo is wrong, look up straw man fallacy. Your examples are straw men - attempts to divert the case at-hand to a more defensible case or at least a more loaded one such as patriotism or racism.
 
  • #12
795
7
In case you think Evo is wrong, look up straw man fallacy. Your examples are straw men - attempts to divert the case at-hand to a more defensible case or at least a more loaded one such as patriotism or racism.

Evo says protesters need a permit. I say they don't; and I use the longstanding American tradition of civil disobedience to illustrate the point.

This is not the first time Evo has used her administrative powers to squelch legitimate points with which she disagrees. It's her standard operating procedure.

To repeat my original point: Evo's claim was that protesters need permits. I say they don't. I did not use a straw man argument. I presented true examples of historical situations in which social and political change could only come about by defying the law.
 
  • #13
D H
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Evo says protesters need a permit. I say they don't; and I use the longstanding American tradition of civil disobedience to illustrate the point.
While you are entitled to your own opinions, you are not entitled to your own facts. People who participated in civil disobedience, if at all honest with themselves, prepared themselves for the consequences of their acts. Those consequences often included getting arrested. Getting arrested was in fact one of the goals of their disobedience. The arrests oftentimes garnered attention and support for their cause.
 
  • #14
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As I see more and more Occupy Protests getting evicted, I wonder if there is no such thing as public space. There is government space, their is private space but their is nothing that is truly public space. If a permit is required for people to use a piece of space then it isn't public space it is either government space or private space.

If their is no public space, where can people peacefully assemble and protest. Is the right to protest only a right as long as the people who own the space allow you to use the space to protest?

I think the "time" element must be considered. The Occupiers are using public property for private uses - lodging for instance. Hotels are subject to health inspection and permits to operate - whether anyone stays there or not.


A quick find on topic - not NY.
http://www.cityofmontrose.org/DocumentView.aspx?DID=80
"PRIVATE USE OF PUBLIC PROPERTY
Sections:
9-8-1 USE OF PUBLIC PROPERTY FOR PRIVATE PURPOSES
9-8-2 OBSTRUCTION OF RIGHTS OF WAY
9-8-3 PERMITS
9-8-4 STREET EVENTS "
 
  • #15
DaveC426913
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Evo says protesters need a permit. I say they don't; and I use the longstanding American tradition of civil disobedience to illustrate the point.

This is not the first time Evo has used her administrative powers to squelch legitimate points with which she disagrees. It's her standard operating procedure.

To repeat my original point: Evo's claim was that protesters need permits. I say they don't. I did not use a straw man argument. I presented true examples of historical situations in which social and political change could only come about by defying the law.
Your stance seems to contradict itself.

If, according to you, protesters don't need permits, then they are not breaking the law. So all your examples involving defiance of the law are irrelevant.



I would point out that protesting is one thing, occupation is another. Whether or not they can protest without a permit, that does not mean they entitled to loiter or squat (i.e. sleep overnight, cook, go to the toilet). These things violate the rights and safety of anyone else who wishes to use that public space. The occupiers are being given a lot of leeway to remain there lay out sleeping bags, barbeques, set up tents, cook and whiz, despite myriad bylaws forbidding these things. All the city has to do is not be so accommodating.

i.e. no one is saying they can't protest, they are simply saying they can't violate existing safety and health regulations.
 
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  • #16
Evo
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Evo says protesters need a permit. I say they don't; and I use the longstanding American tradition of civil disobedience to illustrate the point.

This is not the first time Evo has used her administrative powers to squelch legitimate points with which she disagrees. It's her standard operating procedure.

To repeat my original point: Evo's claim was that protesters need permits. I say they don't. I did not use a straw man argument. I presented true examples of historical situations in which social and political change could only come about by defying the law.
I never said anything specific about who needed what. I posted facts. I don't make things up.

Post a link showing that what I posted is wrong and stop posting misinformation. And stop the off topic posting.
 
  • #17
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This might be helpful - NY has rules about camping on public lands.
http://www.dec.ny.gov/63.html

"Permits and Licenses
Licenses


Have you ever wondered why you need a license to do some of your favorite outdoor activities? Fishing and hunting, as well as other outdoor sports and recreation, require careful management to strike a balance between supply and demand. History proves that the uncontrolled taking of fish and animals can cause the demise of a species. Wildlife biologists, armed with statistical data and habitat studies, can advise the public on the best practice to carry out these activities. Licensing is an effective way of exerting studied control on these activities and, at the same time, helps fund continued data collecting and research efforts.

In New York State, the licensing responsibility is part of the Department of Environmental Conservation's function. A variety of licenses are issued by the Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources and the Division of Forest Protection."


To extrapolate to a city scene - sidewalk resources are finite, as are police and rescue personnel - unless an extra and unnecessary cost is incurred. The roadways are designed to facilitate transportation - not (nearly) continuous protests. The city sewer system is not designed to accommodate camping.
 
  • #18
Evo
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This is for NYC.

New Yorkers have the right to engage in peaceful, protest activity on public sidewalks, in public parks and on public streets in New York City. This includes the right to distribute handbills or leaflets; the right to hold press conferences, demonstrations and rallies; and the right to march on public sidewalks and in public streets. The city can and does impose certain restrictions on these activities, and in some instances one must obtain a permit before engaging in certain activity. This brochure is intended to inform New Yorkers of the basic rules governing demonstration activity.

want to have an event with more than 20 people in a New York City park; or wish to conduct a march in a public street, you will need a permit.

http://www.nyclu.org/publications/palm-card-know-your-rights-demonstrating-new-york-city-2011
 
  • #20
Evo
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nope - no mention of any right to camp in nyc - good news for the hotels.:wink:
lol!
 
  • #21
256bits
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Permit shermit. i guess a few months back the protestors in Iraq didn't get the required permit so for only that reason and that reason only, the goverment got really pissed off, and squelched the use of public space by these now proclaimed criminals.

Seriously though, I believe you can protest as much as you want on the high seas or international waters, and Antartica. That would be the only true public space.
 
  • #22
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Permit shermit. i guess a few months back the protestors in Iraq didn't get the required permit so for only that reason and that reason only, the goverment got really pissed off, and squelched the use of public space by these now proclaimed criminals.

Seriously though, I believe you can protest as much as you want on the high seas or international waters, and Antartica. That would be the only true public space.

My guess is the Occupiers could move to a federal property in the western US and the media will cover the event 24/7 in a positive way.

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1104659/_how_to_become_a_temporary_squatter.html [Broken]
 
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  • #23
DoggerDan
My guess is the Occupiers could move to a federal property in the western US and the media will cover the event 24/7 in a positive way.

There are dozens of warning areas off either coasts I'm sure they'd be welcome to occupy. Perhaps a flotilla?
 
  • #24
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There are dozens of warning areas off either coasts I'm sure they'd be welcome to occupy. Perhaps a flotilla?

As long as they stay away from the Mexican border - might not be safe?
 
  • #25
There should NEVER be a dollar amount attached to exercising your rights because then it becomes a privilege the government affords you like getting a drivers, hunting or fishing permit in that by their hand they PERMIT.you.to.do.this. Spin it anyway you feel as far as saying that the money goes towards security, upkeep, labor, etc... that's baloney. It just makes more sense for taxes be used to pay a contractor to clean up after a protest than to pay overtime to legions of LEO's with an axe to grind that actually want to hurt people.

All governments everywhere continually strive to take and keep power and control from and over is citizens to maintain the upper hand "for the benefit of everyone". If not for the power its for the greed. To see a most superlative example of this all you need to do is look at our own elected officials in DC and couple that with the knowledge that our military is in the protection racket for American corporations overseas as the LEOs are here in CONUS as can be seen on plenty of news outlets just waiting for you to add to their count by visiting.

I'm not a tinfoil hat kind of guy, I've just been on both sides of the fence to varying degrees and I believe my personal experiences allow me to see with a bit more depth and breadth than if I were just one or the other.

I know a lot of you are mad at these people as I can be sometimes but I hope your problem is not with them protesting but maybe the way they do it or for what they are protesting (or not knowing what they are protesting about) or the way they act because if you are hating on them simply because you are inconvenienced somehow then as a fact you are my sworn enemy.

Pick and choose what is fact and what is opinion to you but there is absolutely nothing any employee of any organization can do that when they retire/quit/get fired validates them walking out the front door with millions of dollars especially if they've caused harm to the country or its citizens, contract or no, especially when its my tax dollars that saved a company they couldn't and were hired for.
 
  • #26
DaveC426913
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I know a lot of you are mad at these people as I can be sometimes but I hope your problem is not with them protesting but maybe the way they do it or for what they are protesting (or not knowing what they are protesting about) or the way they act because if you are hating on them simply because you are inconvenienced somehow then as a fact you are my sworn enemy.

I think the general consensus is that they had their say, spoke their peace, no one begrudges them that, but, like the one kid at the party who wants all the attention, it's time to move on.
 
  • #27
D H
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There should NEVER be a dollar amount attached to exercising your rights because then it becomes a privilege the government affords you like getting a drivers, hunting or fishing permit in that by their hand they PERMIT.you.to.do.this.
The US Supreme Court disagrees with you. Individuals exercising their rights are one thing, large groups quite another. Another issue: Where? Even an individual can't just walk into the middle of a busy roadway and start exercising his rights. That isn't exercising one's rights; it's being a public nuisance. Yet another issue: How long? Those OWS protestors cannot be allowed stay in public parks indefinitely because after a certain amount of time that land would become theirs by adverse possession.
 
  • #28
DoggerDan
All governments everywhere continually strive to take and keep power and control from and over is citizens to maintain the upper hand "for the benefit of everyone". If not for the power its for the greed.

Interesting perspective. I attended a presentation tonight put on by a history professor who took us through 4,000 years of example after example of government corruption, ending with how our two-party system has wreaked havoc with our country over the last couple of centuries. He ended with "Republicans have become Socialists; Democrats have become Communists." Partially agree with each, but I disagree with each, too. Depends on how you slice it.
 
  • #29
MarcoD
Interesting perspective. I attended a presentation tonight put on by a history professor who took us through 4,000 years of example after example of government corruption, ending with how our two-party system has wreaked havoc with our country over the last couple of centuries. He ended with "Republicans have become Socialists; Democrats have become Communists." Partially agree with each, but I disagree with each, too. Depends on how you slice it.

Well, that's rather unique too. I would like to know the rationale behind that statement, since I don't see any?
 
  • #30
I think the general consensus is that they had their say, spoke their peace, no one begrudges them that, but, like the one kid at the party who wants all the attention, it's time to move on.

I agree somewhat but had they better organization along with a more clear and concise argument of exactly what they felt needed to be changed (so we would all know) would you be more willing or able to tolerate their actions? Of course I don't mean anyone should have to tolerate public evacuation, fires, and the lot.

D H said:
The US Supreme Court disagrees with you. Individuals exercising their rights are one thing, large groups quite another. Another issue: Where? Even an individual can't just walk into the middle of a busy roadway and start exercising his rights. That isn't exercising one's rights; it's being a public nuisance. Yet another issue: How long? Those OWS protestors cannot be allowed stay in public parks indefinitely because after a certain amount of time that land would become theirs by adverse possession.

The SCOTUS also gave corporations person-hood so as far as having faith in a group of individuals who are above the law handing down decisions concerning when, where, and how we are allowed to protest should be a moot point to anyone who can think above hunt, kill, eat. I'm not familiar with how a group of people exercising their rights together is different from and individual doing it. As far as location is concerned, it seem as if what you are saying is if I exercise certain rights anywhere other than where a government says I can it instantly becomes disobedience whether civil or not. Also, I'm really hope protesters wouldn't qualify as squatters when it came to property laws and I'm pretty sure adverse possession isn't in play here because they aren't changing the park from its original state without opposition from the owner.

Have a nice weekend everyone. I'm going fishing at the Southernmost and one of the top 100 trout fisheries in CONUS this weekend, the Guadalupe River.

Why I no multi-quote? Insert rage face here ( ).
 
  • #31
ginru
Granted, there are always differences in scale, culture, government, etc... but I find it interesting how we'd likely cheer for foreign protestors/youth to be as stubborn as possible in their movement when it's an ocean away (and they're not using it as an excuse to loot, of course).

But then the perception changes when it's in our back yard as we take more of a "Go Home, Already" attitude for the sake of public order. I'm kind of having the same opinion personally as I'd rather they opted for more constructive strategies, but if I were on the outside looking in then I might actually be more supportive of them stubbornly putting their "bodies upon the gears".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7Mf9j8co70
 
  • #32
MarcoD
But then the perception changes when it's in our back yard as we take more of a "Go Home, Already" attitude for the sake of public order.

Well, apart from this forum, I looked at Bloomberg's coverage of the event and the sympathy (from government, business, even wall-street) outweighed the negative remarks. To be honest, I found the both the event pretty decent and handled pretty well by the police.
 
  • #33
DaveC426913
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I agree somewhat but had they better organization along with a more clear and concise argument of exactly what they felt needed to be changed (so we would all know) would you be more willing or able to tolerate their actions?

We accepted it without complaint for a month. That's actually pretty patient. The point is, demonstrating is only one step. If they are going to mean something they need to move past the demonstrating step and start talking.

A child who holds his breath until he turns blue may do so to get someone to pay attention to him - which is fine. But if someone asks what he's upset about, he'd better do something more than just keep holding his breath. He must learn to use his words.
 
  • #34
AlephZero
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The point is, demonstrating is only one step. If they are going to mean something they need to move past the demonstrating step and start talking.

I fell about laughing when I heard an BBC interview with one of the London protest organisers, about the time they were being served with eviction notices.

She agreed with DaveC 100%, and described at length how they were setting up focus groups, working parties, subcommittees, etc, and planning to issue a policy document at some (unknown) future date.

Er, I thought these people were tring to change the way "the system" works (or doesn't work) .... :confused:
 
  • #35
mege
I remember an offhand comment recently from one of the psudo-leaders/kingpins/adhoc chiefs of OWS mentioning about how hard is has been to reach consensus on what he thought were 'basic issues' of the movement and the journalist commented on the clip: 'now you know what it's like to be in government'.

The OWS croud have attempted to 'claim' public spaces as their own. I'd argue the exact opposite of the premise that the OP presented. The OWS folks are abusing the generocity of many organizations (governments and private park owners) right now, and it really suprises me that it's taken this long for evictions. The parks with these occupy campsites are unusable by other patrons. These groups have forced themselves into a public space and are not letting others make use of them. I wonder how many folks are dislocated that had a routine in Zucotti Park? How is one group monopolizing a public space making good use of it?

Without the public use laws that regulate these public spaces, what prevents me from putting up a structure in the middle of a National Park and living there? The occupy protests aren't much different.
 

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