The Right to the City: Social Justice and the Fight for Public Space

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Guilford Press, Feb 24, 2003 - Social Science - 270 pages
In the wake of recent terrorist attacks, efforts to secure the American city have life-or-death implications. Yet demands for heightened surveillance and security throw into sharp relief timeless questions about the nature of public space, how it is to be used, and under what conditions. Blending historical and geographical analysis, this book examines the vital relationship between struggles over public space and movements for social justice in the United States. Presented are a series of linked cases that explore the judicial response to public demonstrations by early twentieth-century workers, and comparable legal issues surrounding anti-abortion protests today; the Free Speech Movement and the history of People's Park in Berkeley; and the plight of homeless people facing new laws against their presence in urban streets. The central focus is how political dissent gains meaning and momentum--and is regulated and policed--in the real, physical spaces of the city.

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Don Mitchell does a great job here. As a formally homeless person and current advocate for homeless people and? displaced disabled people and now Berkeley Human Welfare Commissioner. I can tell you that few get it right and you will talk yourself out of air trying to explain the many reasons why the ill treatment of the unlucky ?increases the odds against those that are the benefactors of a rigged system. It took the death of a 19 year old girl to stop just a small portion of the University of California's depredations and the rapacious corrupt apatite of the likes of Michael Brown. The world you deny to your fellow man is the world you hand your children. Breathe. 


The Fight for Public Space
To Go Again to Hyde Park
Making Dissent Safe for Democracy
From Free Speech to Peoples Park
The End of Public Space
The Annihilation of Space by Law
No Right to the City
The Illusion and Necessity of Order
Now What Has Changed?
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About the author (2003)

Don Mitchell is a Professor of Geography in the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. After receiving his doctorate in geography from Rutgers University in 1992, he taught at the University of Colorado before moving to Syracuse. He is the author of two previous books and numerous articles on the geography of labor, urban public space, and contemporary theories of culture. He is a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and has held a Fullbright Fellowship at the University of Oslo. He is the founder and director of the People's Geography Project (

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