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What Urban Design Can Actually Do to Address Police Violence

Leaders in the field discuss what design can—and can’t—accomplish in the service of communities like Baltimore and Ferguson.
relates to What Urban Design Can Actually Do to Address Police Violence
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Last year, the city of Lakewood, Ohio, just outside of Cleveland, paid $507,500 to settle a lawsuit filed by the owners of an apartment complex that hosted a church-operated re-entry program for formerly incarcerated youth. Young African-American program residents living in the Hidden Village apartment complex complained that local police officers were routinely harassing them. Some incidents were captured on video by the apartment complex’s owners. Here’s some of the law enforcement behavior listed in the legal complaint:  

Roughly 87 percent of Lakewood residents are white, while just over seven percent are African Americans. The Hidden Village apartments are less than two miles from the Cudell Recreation Center in Cleveland proper, the area where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by police in November of last year. Lakewood is a mostly middle-class suburb known for its quaint houses: Homeowners compete for best design during the city’s annual “Keep Lakewood Beautiful” contest. Black youth looking to improve their lives after juvenile detention didn’t seem to fit into the city’s overall aesthetic ambitions.