University of Chicago Law Review

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This Essay explores police practices that marginalize Black people by limiting their freedom of movement across the spaces of Black neighborhoods. In an earlier article, I theorized “racial territoriality” as a form of discrimination that “excludes people of color from—or marginalizes them within—racialized White spaces that have a racially exclusive history, practice, and/or reputation.” In this Essay, I consider how my theory of racial territoriality could apply to policing. It offers an ac-count of how police not only criminalize Black people but also criminalize Black spaces, ostensibly justifying them—and the people who live in or frequent them—as “natural” targets for police activity. As an example of racially territorial policing, the Essay discusses the Supreme Court’s decision in Illinois v. Wardlow and the costs that it imposes by granting police significant discretion to stop people in areas that they define—often inaccurately, according to some research—as having high levels of crime.

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