Parliament Square London a symbolic location for protesters

Source: Author own picture - Parliament Square London

Source: Author own picture – Parliament Square London

Over the centuries, Parliament square remains an important and symbolic location for protesters. Created in 1868, Parliament Square is overlooking the Palace of Westminster, near by Whitehall and the Supreme Court. Occupy Democracy movement used Parliament Square  as a venue of public address to create a projection of publicness beyond the local setting to have more impact and media attention (Iveson, 2007).

During a visit to Parliament Square, Matt an activist explained the pressure they received from the authorities to maintain the protest at night. Protesters also used texts in the form of banner and posters to communicate their messages to citizens. In the idea of Kurt Iveson, the speaker is addressing a co-present audience by setting up workshops and debates in the city (Iveson,2007).

Occupy Democracy – Parliament Square – London October 2014 from samira ariyane on Vimeo.

The picture below shows Brian Haw, a peace activist using several texts forms, like posters, banners, newspapers article and photographs to show his discontentment against UK and US foreign policies toward Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He begun a long standing protest in June 2001 and ended with his eviction from Parliament Square in 2011. Iveson noted that urban space could be venue of public address when co-presence is achieve in space but not in time (Iveson, 2007).

Brian Haw's tent and collection of hand-written posters became a familiar sight in Parliament Sq

Source: Andy Butterton/PA

The urban protests could be linked with Nancy Fraser idea of counterpublics. She revised Habermas idea of public Sphere where she found exclusions, such as women and marginalised groups (Fraser, 1990). We have in Occupy Democracy movement a group of people that are marginalised and don’t have their voice represented in mainstream media. Hence, activists are organising peaceful protests via social media and occupying key urban places that have a strong representation in the city.

References:

Iveson, K. (2007) Publics and the city. Oxford: Blackwell.

Fraser,N. (1990) Rethinking the Public Sphere  A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy. Duke University Press.

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