The Streets Of San Francisco: Policing And The Creation Of A Cosmopolitan Liberal Politics, 1950-1972 by Christopher Lowen Agee

The Streets Of San Francisco: Policing And The Creation Of A Cosmopolitan Liberal Politics, 1950…

byChristopher Lowen Agee

Paperback | January 28, 2016

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During the Sixties the nation turned its eyes to San Francisco as the city's police force clashed with movements for free speech, civil rights, and sexual liberation. These conflicts on the street forced Americans to reconsider the role of the police officer in a democracy. In The Streets of San Francisco Christopher Lowen Agee explores the surprising and influential ways in which San Francisco liberals answered that question, ultimately turning to the police as partners, and reshaping understandings of crime, policing, and democracy.

The Streets of San Francisco uncovers the seldom reported, street-level interactions between police officers and San Francisco residents and finds that police discretion was the defining feature of mid-century law enforcement. Postwar police officers enjoyed great autonomy when dealing with North Beach beats, African American gang leaders, gay and lesbian bar owners, Haight-Ashbury hippies, artists who created sexually explicit works, Chinese American entrepreneurs, and a wide range of other San Franciscans. Unexpectedly, this police independence grew into a source of both concern and inspiration for the thousands of young professionals streaming into the city's growing financial district. These young professionals ultimately used the issue of police discretion to forge a new cosmopolitan liberal coalition that incorporated both marginalized San Franciscans and rank-and-file police officers. The success of this model in San Francisco resulted in the rise of cosmopolitan liberal coalitions throughout the country, and today, liberal cities across America ground themselves in similar understandings of democracy, emphasizing both broad diversity and strong policing.

About The Author

Christopher Lowen Agee is associate professor in the history department at the University of Colorado Denver.  

Details & Specs

Title:The Streets Of San Francisco: Policing And The Creation Of A Cosmopolitan Liberal Politics, 1950…Format:PaperbackDimensions:339 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:January 28, 2016Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022637808X

ISBN - 13:9780226378084

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Extra Content

Table of Contents


1 “I Will Never Degrade the Spirit of Unity”:
Managerial Growth Politics and Police Professionalism

2 North Beach Beat:
Bohemians, Patrol Officers, and Cultural Pluralism

3 Gayola:
Gay-Bar Politics, Police Corruption, and Sexual Pluralism

4 “The Most Powerful Force in Man”:
Sexually Explicit Art, Police Censorship, and the Cosmopolitan Liberal Ascent

5 Leader of the Pack:
Gangs, Police Neglect, and Racial Pluralism

6 “If You Are Very Liberal toward Dissent, You Can Be a Little Bit Tougher”:
Cosmopolitan Liberalism and the Use of Force

7 “City Hall Can Be Beaten”:
Haight-Ashbury Activists, Rank-and-File Police, and a Cosmopolitan Localism



Editorial Reviews

“Today tourists visit Haight Ashbury and North Beach neighborhoods where beat poets and hippies experimented with art, drugs, and bohemian lifestyles. . . . These same places also recall bitter confrontations between police and local residents. . . . Agee’s excellent The Streets of San Francisco disentangles the far more complex and contingent history of how city residents, police officers, and elected officials forged a ‘cosmopolitan liberal politics’ through conflict, compromise, and institutional reform. . . . Agee’s study combines impressive detail with a sophisticated analysis grounded in the larger context of structural changes transforming cities after World War II.”