Entire neighborhoods are being sealed-off, pedestrian traffic on predominantly minority-used walkways such has Old Broadway are being "redirected", former public recreation spaces such as parks are being privatized, the list goes on.
The author, Mike Davis presents a number of salient points as to where cities such as Los Angeles, where capitalism, wealth, and commodification are the driving force for everything, are heading. Because the poor do not have a huge stake at this capitalistic market, their interests are relegated to the background.
The city government has a hand in perpetuating this trend. More importance is given to privatization of space, and funds that are supposed to be allocated for public recreational spaces are being appropriated to private, white-collar redevelopment ventures.
Wealthy communities are physically separated from the rest of the city, the perimeters converted to a kind of military "fortress", with its arsenal of high-tech gadgetry and gated enclosures. The private "security" industry is a thriving business, ready to answer to the ubiquitous slogan of "Armed Response". Even the police are being integrated to these grand scheme of securing the city from "unwanted" elements, where their watchful eyes are omnipresent. In addition to this, they control neighborhoods where minorities, Blacks and Latinos dwell. Even residential architects are getting their design inspirations from the military.
The creation of these "fortress" cities, with the constant surveillance cameras, the gated walls, private security contractors, ground as well as on-air watchers, advances the progress of the social fragmentation, a polarization that serves to destroy the society's natural hegemony at the cost of the underprivileged.
Davis also talks about how this same militaristic tactic is used to lure investors and retailers into opening their establishments in abandoned commercial areas. The concept of "security" taken to the extreme is the key to securing this potentially lucrative market as evinced in the case of the "Panopticon Mall".
Highlighting the social barriers even more are the measures being done to rid the streets of the vagrants and "undesirables". These include the installation of outdoor sprinklers and barrel-shaped bus benches to discourage them from sleeping in public areas. Also, public toilets are being lessened, if not completely eradicated, in favor of the "quasi-public restroom" in establishments and offices where the poor and homeless would not be admitted.
For the most part, I agree with Davis's opposition to these acts of militarization and abolishment of public space. In the eradication of accessible spaces, the sense of community and social interaction is also annihilated. While it seems that these changes improve the quality of life and the sense of security for the common white-collared worker, this is done at the cost of those who have little purchasing power. Access to supposed public places are dictated by those with the money. This violates the very essence of those areas being "public". This, in a sense, tramples upon our very sense of democracy, one that does not discriminate against race, class, or social stature.
This kind of physical segregation underlies the concept that people belonging to different social groups should not interact or mingle. The need of the moneyed class to separate themselves is the root