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Conspiracy Theorists Are Coming for the 15-Minute City

by Ronaldo Derric
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carla francome campaign Seeking better cycling routes, he moved to Haringay, north London, and moved a few years ago for community. “And a place with cafes nearby and everything within walking distance.”

Her work, which includes her support for traffic reduction measures, has occasionally resulted in the stigma of her fellow residents in the streets.But nothing compares to the flow of vitriol she received twitter Since February 12, she posted a thread On the advantage of 15-minute neighborhoods — an urban planning concept that suggests services should be distributed throughout the city and should never be more than 15 minutes away from a park, store, or school.

“It’s not freedom. It’s a socialist prison,” the account with username @pauldup80977540 replied to her thread. The feed of another account, @BusinessLioness, was littered with anti-vaccine messages and retweets from far-right commentators, who sent Franccom an image of her Warsaw ghetto and a message that said: In 1941, the Nazis introduced the death penalty for going out. ”

The aggressiveness of the message upset Frankome. “How can you put us at risk by just saying you want to walk to the local pub?” she says.

Frankome had blundered unconsciously in the midst of evolving conspiracy theories, which turned harmless ideas in urban development, from traffic calming and air pollution control to bike lanes, into a sort of metaphor. Narratives – compiled in a meeting place for anti-lockdown activists. With the help of right-wing figures in the US and UK, including author Jordan Peterson, the 15-Minute City concept is based on the idea of ​​a “Great Reset” to see people locked up, far away. is entwined in a world of great conspiracies. In their homes by climate-obsessed dictators.

“There is no reason why urban planning initiatives should have anything to do with the idea that Bill Gates wants us to eat bugs, but this idea of ​​the Great Reset is a meta-conspiracy in which all these people are actively participating. framework,” said Ernie Piper, a fact-checking and disinformation analyst at Logical. “It’s a bit like an alternate reality game where everyone can contribute their own interpretation of events.”

The 15 Minute City Conspiracy Theory has become entrenched in Britain’s political fringes when it is mentioned in an interview with GB News, a free-to-air television channel that regularly promotes conspiracy theories. On February 9, ruling Conservative MP Nick Fletcher referred to the conspiracy in a question in the House of Commons about the city of 15 minutes, describing it as “a concept of international socialism that will take away our individuals.” called. Freedom. “

Fletcher’s question was met with laughter in the House.

The conspiracy is completely baseless. WIRED spoke to Areeq Chowdhury, Labor Councilor for Canningtown, Newham, East London Borough, who has adopted the idea of ​​a 15-minute neighborhood for his own plans. Chowdhury is a data and digital technology researcher by day, most recently leading a campaign against police using facial recognition cameras in his district. The 15 Minute Neighborhood has nothing to do with oversight or management, he says: “It just creates a sense of community and encourages active travel,” Areeq said. “I think people often overestimate the authorities’ authority to do things like this. [conspiracies]”

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