Policing Gentrification

The Financial Geography of Law Enforcement Practices in Philadelphia


  • Jackson L Smith New York University
  • Vanessa Massaro Bucknell University
  • Greg Miller Bucknell University, ‘18




Gentrification, policing, property, Philadelphia


By contributing to dispossession along the gentrification “frontier,” “broken windows” policing advances the territorial conquest of Black and Latinx neighborhoods. Enlarging the growing body of scholarship which examines the racialized effects of broken windows policing in U.S. cities, we scrutinize the geographical relationship between “broken windows” policing and gentrification in Philadelphia. Building on Neil Smith’s spatial analysis of the gentrification “frontier,” we examine the spatial pattern of broken windows policing to better understand how it interacts with the expansion of gentrification. We use mixed quantitative and qualitative methods to explore how the geographical relationship between gentrifying (or adjacent-to-gentrifying) neighborhoods and broken windows policing strategies. We then examine how these strategies contribute to racialized dispossession and displacement. The strategies we analyze—order-maintenance arrests and real property forfeitures—clearly reveal how police intervene into the financial geography of redeveloping neighborhoods.


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How to Cite

Smith, J. L., Massaro, V., & Miller, G. (2021). Policing Gentrification: The Financial Geography of Law Enforcement Practices in Philadelphia. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 20(6), 637–665. https://doi.org/10.14288/acme.v20i6.1957



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