Professor Lung-Amam quoted in New York Times about securitization of public space in DC
For 25 years, Washington has grown ever more conspicuously guarded, first with the bollards and concrete jersey barriers that appeared after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, then the elaborate security protocols that swept federal properties after Sept. 11, 2001. Then there were heightened fears of what could harm the nation’s first Black president, followed by new worries that everyday public spaces — plazas, parks, farmer’s markets — could be targets as much as the monuments were.
“One of the reasons that my husband and I have always loved the city is you can literally walk from the neighborhoods of D.C. — when there were actually Black people living downtown — and access those grounds, the Smithsonian,” said Willow Lung-Amam, a professor of urban studies and planning at the University of Maryland.
When the city had less tourism and its population was still majority-Black, she said, it was like their private secret that African-American residents had intimate access to all of the monumentality of downtown. As federal properties have grown more heavily policed, she recalled a time, about 15 years ago, when her husband tried to take a group of videography students to film scenes on the Capitol grounds. F.B.I. agents later came to their home to question him about it.