In regards to public space, a major ongoing issue is militarization. It has been heavily increasing, especially in the gentrifying neighborhoods. There is only so much we can to prevent this from happening, and it only seems as if the implementations are getting more and more sever. I have gotten to know quite a few people who don’t have a legitimate home, but a park bench or subway station by which they call “home.” This increasing militarization of public spaces is making it extremely difficult for people to get by.
Take John for example. John is an older man, who has lived in New York his whole life. The first time I met john in July 2016, I had taken his photograph while he red the daily newspaper. A bit over a year later, I ran into John very close to the original location where I had met him. I happened to have a print of the photograph in my backpack. I pulled it out and gave it to him and he was truly blown away. For him it was tough to look back on the year old photo, for he was currently in a tight place. He used to stay at the New York Public Library on 23rd street. He would store his belonging around the corner, in a locked up suitcase. He used the library’s public facilities on a daily basis. Recently, John had been kicked out of the library for no legitimate reason. After trying to argue against the blatant inequality , John became banned from all the public libraries in New York. Something that does not even seem legal. When John was explaining the story to me , he was livid. I wish there was more I could do to help him. He told me he ended up sleeping on someone stoop immediately after he had been kicked out. The locals neighbors harassed him and he eventually left. Since I last spoke with John, he had no permanent place to call home, and most of his belongings were taken away after the incident at the library. It makes me sick to think a space like the New York Public Library has began to privatize to the point where they are kicking people out and banning them from all the nearby facilities.
It is very evident that these so called Public Spaces are becoming more privatized and militarized. Even in subway stations, a fine line between private and public, the government is taking every unnecessary precaution to prevent people from sleeping or loitering in the stations. This is seen through small things like dividers on benches or an increase in law enforcement patrolling the subways. In John’s case, the increasing militarization is making his life much more difficult than it has to be. Even in the local parks, there are strict regulations as to when and where you can spend your personal time, whether it be playing ball or taking a nap. We need to stand up for those who are being miss treated. In many cases, these individuals are incapable to afford the insanely expensive rent prices, mainly due to a lack in resources. It is people like John who inspire me to do further research on the awful social issues in our country. For more reading on the increasing militarization of public spaces, please read the following article.