Parks, permits, and riot police
Understanding the politics of public space occupations 1988–1991
in Cooking up a revolution
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Chapter 3 uses the struggle between Food Not Bombs and the Art Agnos Mayoral administration (1988–1991) as a backdrop to discuss the role of permits in regulating and controlling space. It argues that Food Not Bombs, through public feedings and organizing tent-cities, made specific claims regarding the nature of public space and claimed that the city had no legitimacy to regulate political activism and expression. The city, on the other hand, attempted to use permits as means of forcing the group into a negotiated management with city officials. When that negotiation broke down, the city turned toward an escalation of violence and harassment in an attempt to purge the group from public space. The chapter considers anarchist and autonomous conceptions of public space and expands on Margaret Kohn’s conception of populist space (2003, 2013) by exploring how autonomous politics complicates the topic. Conversely, it argues that a complex dialectical relationship exists between the autonomous populist politics of Food Not Bombs, the populist representational nature of public protest, and the regulatory desire of the City.

Cooking up a revolution

Food Not Bombs, Homes Not Jails, and resistance to gentrification


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