Thursday, May 26, 2011

Blomley on Sidewalks and Policing

Nicholas Blomley (Simon Fraser) has posted Coloured Rabbits, Dangerous Trees, and Public Sitting: Sidewalks, Police, and the City. In it he examines policing activity on city sidewalks as a means of exploring individual rights to public space and the promotion of the common good. Here's the abstract:

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.

Jim K.

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