Property, Personhood, and Police: The Making of Race and Space through Nuisance Law

Graziani, Terra; Montano, Joel; Roy, Ananya; Stephens, Pamela

This essay is concerned with public nuisance law as a space-making project, decisively shaping property relations through speculative policing. With a focus on the Citywide Nuisance Abatement Program (CNAP) in Los Angeles, we show how the transformation of “gang-controlled” neighbourhoods anticipates capital investment through the reformation of property. We situate the contemporary reanimation of public nuisance law in the socio-spatial histories of racial capitalism, including colonial dispossession, the control of free and fugitive Black people, and formations of counter-insurgency such as community policing. In doing so, we draw attention to the lawlessness of the law, which in the case of CNAP is apparent not only in its legal hybridity but also in its preemptive logics of surveillance, criminalisation and banishment that target racial others.