P. 60 Most courts would not recognize the practices we describe here as banishment. They generally allow spacial restrictions when imposed as a condition of parole or probation, and do not consider exclusion from a neighborhood or area of the city to constitute banishment.
The authors might have lead with this caveat, since it undermines the premise of most of their book.
The authors also feel the need to put quotations around terms like “disorder” (i.e., public urination, drinking, panhandling and sleeping out) and employ euphemistic terms like unhoused in lieu of homeless, much as certain advocates employ the term undocumented to refer to people who have illegally circumvented immigration requirements. Banishment itself is a term used incorrectly for effect, but few conceits make for more tedious reading than the constant misuse of “allegedly” with opinions of others.
Although written in an academic and quasi-legal tone by two professors at the University of Washington, the footnoting has some curious deficiencies. Certain statements like, “SPD officers are generally instructed not to report ethnicity/Hispanic background” are stated as fact with no footnoting at all. Gross methodological flaws are also briefly confessed then arguments proceed on.
The authors are not even comfortable admitting that ordinances they disagree with are desired by a large portion of Seattle’s population. They hedge their bets with language hinting that it’s not a valid desire for safe neighborhoods, but rather commercial interests seeking unimpeded profits or predominantly Caucasian citizens who want enforcement as a form of social control over people of color.
As a resident and property-owner in the downtown area they use as their primary focus, I can only shake my head at this and think, “what chumps!” What is minor disorder to the authors, who likely live in some safer suburb of Seattle, is a daily public-safety struggle as I walk home through drug deals and use and am aggressively hustled for money. I’ve had my building trespassed for car prowls and by people trying to sleep in the stairwells or on the roof. Our “broken windows” include rampant vandalism, garbage strewn by dumpster divers and discarded high percentage alcohol containers and needles in the public easement known as the Union Steps. Neither the low-income housing on our block nor the high-profile convention center do their part to report illegal activity even when done flagrantly in broad daylight or in the park they’re supposed to control after dark.
Our state attracts people who are living in this country illegally because agencies refuse to cooperate with federal immigration regulation agencies. We have permissive practices like issuing drivers licenses without proof of citizenship. Our city’s liberalism leads our mayors to declare typical northwest winters “emergencies” and to even create special housing for people who violate the drug and alcohol requirements in other public housing! We also have more than 1000 registered sex offenders whose addresses are simply “homeless” not being properly supervised by authorities.
When citizens live in fear of retribution, or reach a degree of apathy after their efforts are met with constant accusations of racism, the result is chaos. SPD is not exerting massive social control, on the contrary, they are losing the battle for public safety despite creative attempts to make policing more effective.