Event Listing: The City Talks – The Battles in Seattle: Paradoxes of Social Control in a Seemingly Progressive City

CityTalksPoster_Spring2014

Please join The City Talks for the second lecture of Spring 2014.

The Battles in Seattle: Paradoxes of Social Control in a Seemingly Progressive City
Steve Herbert
Professor and Director, Law, Societies, and Justice Program and Department of Geography, University of Washington

Monday, February 24
Doors Open at 7:00pm
Lecture Begins at 7:30pm

This is a free public event at the Legacy Art Gallery ~ 630 Yates Street

Run by the Committee for Urban Studies at the University of Victoria, The City Talks is a free public lecture series featuring distinguished scholars drawn from the University of Victoria, across Canada, and beyond. This Spring our lectures, on the theme of Security and the City, explore the contested terrain of security and surveillance in contemporary cities.

The lectures last an hour and a half, including a question and answer session with the author.

For more information, please visit www.TheCityTalks.ca.

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You are also invited to participate in a discussion based walking tour on the policing of poverty and the pursuit of social justice in Victoria. In partnership with The City Talks, this walk will take up some of the themes in Steve Herbert’s lecture, and apply them to sites in Victoria.

Here are the details:

Meet: Store and Fisgard, across the street from Swift House
Date: March 1, 2014
Time: 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Click here for an outline of the tour.
Join the walk on Facebook.

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The City Walks – The Paradoxes of Place: Policing Poverty & Pursuing Social Justice in Victoria

“The key political challenge… is to replace the fear-inducing language of ‘disorder and decline’ with a more capacious, just and inclusive public discourse… Such a political appeal would aim not at fear and castigation but at the human capacity for empathy and respect.”

̶Katherine Beckett & Steve Herbert in
Banished: The New Social Control in Urban America

You are invited to participate in a discussion based walking tour on the policing of poverty and the pursuit of social justice in Victoria. In partnership with The City Talks, this walk will take up some of the themes in Steve Herbert’s lecture, The Battles in Seattle: Paradoxes of Social Control in a Seemingly Progressive City, and apply them to sites in Victoria.

Here are the details:

Meet: Store and Fisgard, across the street from Swift House
Date: March 1, 2014
Time: 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Join the walk on Facebook.

Here’s a map of the sites we’ll visit and the route we’ll take:

During the walk we’ll consider these broad questions:

  • How is poverty policed in Victoria?
  • How is poverty discussed, experienced and explained by regular citizens, mainstream media, police, activists, academics, service providers, and most importantly, the poor themselves? Does the way we think and talk about poverty need to change?
  • How should we pursue social justice? What types policies should we implement to alleviate poverty?

Here are the sites we’ll visit and some of the questions we’ll discuss:

Store & FisgardSwift House

Centennial SquareCentennial Square

  • How is Centennial Square physically constructed to encourage certain uses, while discouraging others?
  • How has Centennial Square been used historically by marginalized groups, like hippies or homeless people (Midenhall, 24)?
  • How has it been used more recently by protest groups, like the Occupy Movement or anti-Olympics protestors?
  • How has it been used by more conventional groups, like the Downtown Victoria Business Association?
  • Why does the City of Victoria ban people from “squatting, kneeling, sitting, or lying down” and putting “any structure, tent, object or thing” on sidewalks or medians? How are these provisions enforced? What groups do they disproportionately apply to? How do civic regulations like these, symbolized by City Hall, affect people at some of the other sites we’ll visit today?

GVPL Central Branch

GVPL Central Branch Courtyard

  • Is this public space or private space? Does the privatization of public space create tensions between the institutions and their users?
  • How is this space controlled and regulated? Who is allowed to use this space? When and how are they allowed to use it?

Provincial Court

  • In 2010, the Victoria Integrated Court was formed. Rather than funding judges, prosecutors, defence attorneys, police and probation officers, and other justice system officials to coordinate social programs, would it make more sense to fund increased income assistance, supportive housing, and addictions treatment instead?
  • Is it a problem that “the police presence on the team means that some clients who could benefit from team support are reluctant to be engaged with law enforcement” (VICOT Annual Report 2012, 4)? Should laws be changed so that we no longer “criminalize some aspects of economic marginalization” (Beckett & Herbert, 152; also see Out of Sight, 33)?
  • Does it concern you that the DVBA prioritized business interests in creating the Victoria Integrated Court?
  • Do programs like Victoria’s Integrated Court create the risk of a conflict between citizens’ rights to a fair hearing in court and their rights to access social services?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pioneer Square

  • The BC Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling that allows camping in municipal parks has implications for “the debate over negative and positive rights,” the “underlying sociological issue of homelessness,” and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ “potential for effecting transformative change” (Young, 105). (The ruling was upheld by the BC Court of Appeal in 2009.) What are these implications?
  • Do you agree with the current municipal regulations governing camping in parks? What unintended effects might these regulations have? How else might homelessness be dealt with?
  • In what ways did recent changes to Pioneer Square physically change the park? How might these changes affect homeless, poor and otherwise marginalized users of the park?

900-Block Pandora900-Block Pandora

References/In-Line Citations

Posted in Events, Homelessness, Housing, Law, Public Space, University of Victoria, UVic, Walking Tours | 2 Comments

The City Talks – Surveillance Readings

The City Walks Reading ListFor the upcoming City Walk on surveillance in Victoria, I’ve suggested a couple of readings and/or linked to some videos that raise issues for discussion at each site. While it’s not necessary to read or view any of them in order to participate in the tour, it might enhance your knowledge about surveillance issues and help to facilitate a more fulsome discussion. In this post, I highlight the three texts and videos that will most enhance your experience on this tour:

The first reading I suggest you read is Rob Wipond’s final installment in a Focus Magazine series on police use of Automated Licence Plate Recognition, So it’s illegal surveillance, so what? It summarizes the issue nicely, and will form the backdrop to our discussion at our first site. For links to the other articles in the series, and the questions we’ll discuss at Victoria Police Headquarters, see my earlier post, The City Walks – Is Everywhere Under Surveillance?

The second reading includes a number of images of signs that organizations could use to better inform people about surveillance practices, in both public and quasi-public areas; it also explains why proper signage is important. Here’s an citation that includes a link: Andrew Clement & Joseph Ferenbok, “Mitigating Asymmetric Visibilities: Towards a Signage Code for Surveillance Camera Networks” (pre-publication proof, 2011), in Aaron Doyle, Randy Lippert & David Lyon (Eds.), Eyes Everywhere: The Global Growth of Camera Surveillance (New York: Routledge, 2012), 309-332.

My third suggested “reading” is a one minute long YouTube video that answers the first question I’ll ask at the final site, at which we’ll discuss one of the major possibilities for the future of surveillance. Here’s another citation with a link: “TheGifro,” “Excessive force by Victoria police – Mar 21, 2010 – judge for yourself,” YouTube video (uploaded March 22, 2010).

Join the walking tour at 10:00 on February 1, 2013, in front of the Victoria Police Headquarters, to discuss the issues these texts and videos raise. There is more information on the sites and questions in the earlier post, The City Walks – Is Everywhere Under Surveillance?

Posted in Events, Walking Tours | 3 Comments

The City Walks – Is Everywhere Under Surveillance?

This spring, the theme of The City Talks is Security in the City. In the first lecture of the series, Queens University sociologist David Murakami Wood offers a comparative view of surveillance in London, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo. This event is on January 23, 2013, at the Legacy Gallery, at 7:30. 

On the following Saturday, you are invited to join The City Walks for a discussion based walking tour that applies some of the themes of the lecture to Victoria’s urban landscape. Using our collective knowledge and observing our urban environment, we’ll discuss how Victoria’s surveillance culture compares with the global cities that Murakami Wood discusses in his lecture. Is Victoria’s culture of surveillance most similar to London, Rio or Tokyo? In what ways is it different? What are the most important local surveillance issues and what should we do about them?

Here are the details:

Where to Meet: Outside the Victoria Police Headquarters, 850 Caledonia Ave.
Date: February 1, 2013
Time: 10:00 am to 12:00 pm

Here’s a map of the sites we’ll visit and the route we’ll take:

Below is a list of the sites we’ll visit and some of the questions we’ll discuss. For some of the sites, I’ve suggested a couple of readings and/or linked to some videos that raise issues for discussion at each site. (I’ve summarized some of the most important readings in a separate post.) While it’s not necessary to read or view any of them in order to participate in the tour, it might enhance your knowledge about surveillance issues and help to facilitate a more fulsome discussion.

Victoria Police HeadquartersVictoria Police Headquarters

Automated Licence Plate Recognition (ALPR) “represents a change-step in law enforcement practice, facilitating some degree of ‘dragnet’ policing. The ability of police agencies in liberal democracies to implement such a significant shift in police tactics without public consultation or debate – hence without informed public consent – is frightening indeed” (Derby, 171).

  • What do you know about the Victoria Police Department’s use of Automated Licence Plate Recognition?
  • Do you agree with the idea that if you’re doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear? Can you think of situations in which you would not want a record kept of your movements around the city?
  • Can you think of ways in which use of ALPR might expand beyond law enforcement and suffer from “function creep”?

Suggested reading:

900-Block Pandora900 Block Pandora

“Access to public space for homeless people is increasingly under threat as city authorities
and some national governments impose restrictions on access for certain categories of
people” (Doherty et al., 292).

  • In what ways does the streetscape in this block facilitate surveillance and policing? What kinds of surveillance is this space subject to?
  • How does our society decide what kinds of people and places should be subject to surveillance? What kinds of crime does the surveillance here miss?
  • What effects might this kind of surveillance have?

Suggested reading:

Centennial SquareCentennial Square

“Conventional CCTV cameras, with their recognizable housings and prominent public placement, are becoming almost invisible through their ubiquity in contemporary urban landscapes. The much-reduced size of digital cameras makes video surveillance easier to hide and further obscures it from public view. But even when the cameras appear in their familiar bulky form, they are only one part of a much larger surveillance assemblage, in which the growing number and variety of actors, human and otherwise, remain unseen” (Ferenbok & Clement, 230).

  • What kinds of surveillance do you see operating here? What kinds of invisible, or less visible, surveillance might be operating here?
  • How is this space used by protestors and for civic celebrations? How are large gatherings here surveilled by authorities?
  • How do you feel about being watched by security guards as you enter public washrooms? How do you feel about being limited to 15 minutes to use the washroom?

The Bay Centre EntranceThe Bay Centre Entrance – View & Broad

“Most privacy laws require the organization conducting video surveillance to post a clear and understandable notice about the use of cameras on its premises to individuals whose images might be captured by them, before these individuals enter the premises.  This gives people the option of not entering the premises if they object to the surveillance. Signs should include a contact in case individuals have questions or if they want access to images related to them” (Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada).

  • Do you see any signage here informing you that there is video surveillance going on inside the mall or in the adjacent areas?
  • Does the lack of useful signage about surveillance in businesses in general disturb you? Do you feel like you should have to give up your privacy rights when you enter “quasi-public spaces” (Doherty et al., 291-292)?
  • What kinds of information and signage do you think are necessary for you to be able to grant informed consent to be surveilled?
  • In the ten days between when I posted the outline for this walk and when it took place on February 1, 2014, a small sign was posted at the entrance pictured above, informing people that they were subject to video surveillance and providing contact information so that people can find out more information about surveillance practices.

Suggested reading:

Market Square Green SpaceMarket Square Green Space – Johnson & Wharf

  • Why is this place important as both a site of local surveillance and as a representative site of “camera surveillance… as a form of civic engagement or duty” (Finn, 77)?
  • Do you agree with the claim that citizen surveillance has changed the nature surveillance in our society?
  • Should we engage in a “a self-reflexive look at our own willingness and desire to watch, record and display our lives and the lives of others” (Finn, 79)?

Suggested viewing:

Suggested reading:

Solstice Cafe – Discussion

  • In what ways is Victoria’s surveillance culture similar to and different from those in London, Rio and Tokyo? How are comparative studies of surveillance like this useful?
  • In 2009, the Vancouver Public Space Network mapped the locations of 2000 surviellance cameras covering public space in Vancouver’s downtown. Among other reasons, the VPSN did this to “allow people and governments in Vancouver to have a more informed discussion of the necessity and effectiveness of… increased surveillance in public spaces.” Do you think it would be a useful exercise to map public and private security cameras in Victoria?

Suggested reading:

References

  • Patrick Derby, “Policing in the age of information: Automated number plate recognition,” in Aaron Doyle, Randy Lippert & David Lyon (Eds.), Eyes Everywhere: The Global Growth of Camera Surveillance (New York: Routledge, 2012), 156-173.
  • Joseph Ferenbok & Andrew Clement, “Hidden changes: From CCTV to ‘smart’ video surveillance,” in Aaron Doyle, Randy Lippert & David Lyon (Eds.), Eyes Everywhere: The Global Growth of Camera Surveillance (New York: Routledge, 2012), 218-234.
  • Johnathan Finn, “Seeing surveillantly: Surveillance as social practice,” in Aaron Doyle, Randy Lippert & David Lyon (Eds.), Eyes Everywhere: The Global Growth of Camera Surveillance (New York: Routledge, 2012), 67-80.
Posted in Events, Newspaper Coverage, Policing, Public Space, Reading List, UVic, Victoria, Walking Tours | 1 Comment

Parking Follies II

An occasional series featuring parking problems from a pedestrian and cyclist viewpoint.

image

What: A car parked partially in a private driveway, completely blocking a sidewalk and preventing normal use of a bus stop.

Where: 400-block Obed Ave.

When: December 15, 2013. 11:52 a.m.

Comment: Drivers are pedestrians too, and should know that sidewalks are often used for walking. It’s also a common sense part of living in an urban environment that normal bus stop use involves passengers boarding through the front doors near the bus stop sign. The only explanation I can think of for parking this way is driver selfishness–it probably seemed like too much trouble to have other cars in the driveway moved to create sufficient space, or to find nearby on-street parking and use the sidewalk for its intended purpose.

Posted in Parking Follies | 3 Comments

Event Listing: Victoria Mutiny Commemoration

An event sponsored by the 1918 Victoria Mutiny Commemoration Committee:

Victoria Mutiny Commemoration

Honour the Resisters of the 259th Battalion

Saturday, December 21, 9:00am

Gather at Fort and Quadra Street (900 Block of Fort)

On the morning of December 21, 1918, French-Canadian conscripts in the 259th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force mutinied at the corner of Fort and Quadra streets in downtown Victoria. They refused to embark for service in a new war.  That war saw the Conservative government of Canada send troops to try to aid the White Russian forces fighting the Bolsheviks in the Russian Civil War.  The war on the Western Front had ended six weeks earlier.  So sending conscripts to fight in the Russian Far East had dubious legal grounds.

However, at the point of the bayonet, the mutinous men were forced to embark for Russia.  The ringleaders were shackled together on a ship, sent to Vladivostok and given sentences of between 30 days and 3 years imprisonment with hard labour for their just act of resistance.

In 2013, on the 95th anniversary of the mutiny, we are gathering to remember this forgotten moment in the history of Victoria, Canada and the world. 

The event has two parts:

1. For those able there is a walk. We begin at dawn (7:30AM) from Carnarvon Park (2800 Henderson Road, Carnarvon Street at Henderson Road) to the corner of Fort and Quadra streets. Highlights of key locations along the route will be provided by Ben Isitt, Historian and Victoria City Councillor.

2. The second part is a ceremony at the corner of Fort and Quadra streets (9:00AM) to honour these mens’ resistance to imperialism and to demand a formal apology from the Canadian government for the families and a full pardon for the French-Canadian soldiers wrongfully convicted of mutiny at Victoria.

On Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/233531403482996/

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Parking Follies I

An occasional series featuring parking problems from a pedestrian and cyclist viewpoint.
image

image

What: A truck blocking a crosswalk and 1.5 vehicle lanes while unloading.

Where: Tillicum Mall, Upper Level. Near Target.

When: December 16, 2013. 10:35 a.m.

Comment: The design of this loading bay puts all road users at risk, by forcing pedestrians (some with strollers or walkers) into the vehicle lane and all vehicles (including cyclists) into a single, narrow two-way lane.

Posted in Parking Follies | 1 Comment