Judith Butler begins by explaining about the mass protest where people walk and shout together by taking over the public spaces. She explains that when we come together to demonstrate for a common cause, we use public spaces distinctly from private ones. Streets have the ability to support us. It helps our voices to reach to the higher ups, it helps in our “struggle against disenfranchisement, effacement, and abandonment”. In general, when we are in street or public places, we don’t talk and communicate with each other but when people participate in a demonstration in squares/public places it gives them a sensation that we are indeed supported by other people.
In the essay, she talks about the writing by Hannah Arendt where she mentions about Political Space. She claims that political space is not influenced by public areas but by the alliance between people. Arendt writes: “action and speech create a space between the participants which can find its proper location almost anywhere and anytime.”
One of the example that the writer gave is how the streets are used to support minority people’s rights and to protest against the regimes. She goes back to the back and points out the winter of 2011 against tyrannical regimes in North Africa and the Middle East, the protest against escalating precarization of working peoples in Europe and in the Southern hemisphere, the struggles for public education throughout the US and Europe, and those struggles to make the street safe for women, gender, and sexual minorities. She also talks about the protest against police who have misused their position with power. So, when people gather to demonstrate they can actually overcome the police power too. She says that these demonstrations become politically potent on the protester’s side only when it is captured in real time with the media flowing the news to the entire world.
Public places may be a place to show commoner’s power but it is a dangerous place too. The writer explains the situation in Syria where crowds of mourners become targets of military destruction with public spaces being seized by people who are not supposed to be there.