That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one excerpt:
Take the famed Selma civil-rights marchers of 1965, when the protesters had obtained the legal right, through petition, to conduct a 52-mile, five-day march down an interstate highway. Of course, that blocked the highway and inconvenienced many motorists and truckers. America’s NIMBY mentality would most likely prevent a comparable event today.
Starting in the 1970s, the federal courts began to assert that public spaces are not automatically fair game for marches and demonstrations, and so local governments have sought to please the users of such facilities rather than marchers and protesters. For instance, during the 2004 Democratic National Convention, numerous would-be demonstrators ended up being confined to a “demonstration zone,” which one federal judge described as analogous to Piranesi’s etchings of a prison. The zone was ringed by barricades, fences and coiled razor wire.
Here is the closer:
Could we not have kept public demonstrations and protests more alive as a vital and nonbureaucratized tradition?
For a long time, most people ignored this issue, but I wonder if it won’t start to seem urgent once again.
Do read the whole thing.