The so-called “15-minute city” is a concept in urban planning that seeks to create urban areas in which the daily necessities of life—education, work, shopping, health care, leisure—are accessible via a 15-minute walk or bike ride from any point within the city. The 15-minute city concept is also a target for conspiracy theorists, so naturally former Rep. Michele Bachmann has gone all in on spreading baseless conspiracies about the idea.
On Wednesday night, Bachmann, who now serves as dean of the School of Government at Pat Robertson’s Regent University, appeared on a World Prayer Network livestream, where she baselessly claimed that 15-minute cities are really an “electronic leash” designed to prevent anyone from traveling more than 15 minutes away from their homes.
“The 15-minute city is a planned city, a planned community where people are allowed to travel by foot 15 minutes from their house,” Bachmann claimed. “So, it’s really a leash, an electronic leash. You see where this QR code comes in on our phones; this contains people to an area that is no more than 15 minutes from home.”
“These are so-called smart cities where individuals will be tracked and traced and surveilled, and we can move about freely within 15 minutes from home,” she continued. “In the former Soviet Union, their people were allowed to go 50 miles from home—any further, they had to get permission of the government—so this is a move of totalitarianism, where there’s a limitation on freedom of movement. In the United States government under our Constitution, every American has the right to travel, so this is clearly an unconstitutional move.”
The World Prayer Network is an outgrowth of a prayer movement that began in the wake of the 2020 presidential election, when religious-right activists began to gather together several times a week to pray for God to intervene and overturn the results. Founded by right-wing activists Jim Garlow and Mario Bramnick, the World Prayer Network livestreams have since become a conduit for the promotion of wild conspiracy theories, many of them spread by Bachmann, who is a regular participant.
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