Coloured Rabbits, Dangerous Trees, and Public Sitting: Sidewalks, Police, and the City
Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Department of Geography
April 23, 2011
Urban geographers would argue that cities are distinct spaces that need to be treated on their own terms. Yet I fear that we have not given the specificity of urban law its due. My aim is to give one crucial, yet easily overlooked urban legal practice – that of ‘police’ – more careful attention. By ‘police’ I mean ‘the regulation of the internal life of a community to promote general welfare and the condition of good order’ (Neocleous, 2000, p. 1). I focus on the sidewalk as a particular police space. I also wish to demonstrate the distinctiveness of police, particularly when compared with rights-based understandings of public space, which worry at the purification of public space. Yet the two frequently collide, as we can see with reference to a constitutional challenge to a sit/lie ordinance in Seattle. Police won, as it usually does. But to accuse police of an assault upon rights is, in several senses, beside the point, for police operates in a different register. Police thus must be understood on its own terms, and not reduced to other governmental logics.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 33
Keywords: Police, the city, sidewalksworking papers series
Date posted: April 25, 2011
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