Friday, April 20, 2012
Occupy Wall Street, the NYC Federal Building, and a New "1st Amendment Rights Area"
Near Wall Street, and thus near "Occupy Wall Street," is the National Memorial Federal Hall. As the National Park Service describes it, Federal Hall is "The Birthplace of American Government":
Here on Wall Street, George Washington took the oath of office as our first President, and this site was home to the first Congress, Supreme Court, and Executive Branch offices. The current structure, a Customs House, later served as part of the US Sub-Treasury. Now, the building serves as a museum and memorial to our first President and the beginnings of the United States of America.
A new (and perhaps temporary) addition to Federal Hall is a dedicated "1st Amendment Rights Area," on the lower left hand side of the diagram below:
As Timothy Zick noted several years ago, "governments have begun to partition and segment expressive venues. The state, through spatial tactics, is actively creating distinct, tactical places for expressive activity. Spatial tactics are giving rise to what we might consider particular architectures of place." Zick's 2008 book Speech Out of Doors is a terrific discussion of this type of free speech "zoning."