Friday, 6 July 2018

Rebel City and the Threat To Public Space

Rebel City and the threat to public space
ACG members of the Rebel City Collective got first-hand confirmation of why we need to make London the ‘Rebel City’ whilst distributing the paper outside Shepherd’s Bush underground station. We met at 5 outside the station entrance and began to hand out papers. We had the usual competition of the Evening Standard. It wasn’t long before we were approached by a security guard from Westfield Shopping Mall. We were some distance from the entrance to the mall but for some reason the space outside the underground entrance is Westfield’s private property. We had not got permission from the owner to distribute our paper. The security guard was pleasant enough but nevertheless was concerned to ‘do his job’. By coincidence comrades from the Angry Workers were also there distributing leaflets for the anti-fascist mobilisation on the 14th.
We argued and then moved to the other side of the station which was public. However, we were missing quite a lot of people coming in from the other direction. Whilst 2 of us covered one exit, one of our group decided to move just into the entrance of the underground but was soon moved on by a very hostile London Underground manager. She decided to try once again onto the forecourt area owned by Westfield. Again the security guard tried to move her on but this time she decided not to. We have written often enough in the pages of Rebel Cityabout the privatisation of public space and how difficult it is to take any public political action, even something as unthreatening as distributing a political paper or leaflet.
Supported by a member of the Angry Workers she continued to hold her ground until four more security guards arrived as well as a ‘dog handler’ who we assumed was the police. They were surrounded and the ‘police’ aggressively ‘laid down the law’ about the sanctity of private property. All of this was being filmed by a small camera on the shoulder of the ‘dog handler’.
We moved on eventually but it seems that we shouldn’t be moved on from open places that are so clearly public but taken over by private companies. We need to reclaim these spaces!

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