The Streets of San Francisco: Policing and the Creation of a Cosmopolitan Liberal Politics, 1950-1972 (Hardcover)
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For decades, the city of San Francisco has been nearly synonymous with the word "liberal," known for its diversity and acceptance, environmental activism, and thriving art scene. But this has not always been the case. Liberalism in San Francisco in the years right after World War II was mostly confined to notions of state welfare and business regulation. It wasn't until the 1950s and 1960s, when new peoples and cultures poured into the city, that San Francisco produced a new liberal politics.
Christopher Lowen Agee details this fascinating transition in "The Streets of San Francisco," focusing in particular on the crucial role the police played during this cultural and political shift. He partly attributes the creation and survival of cosmopolitan liberalism to the police's new authority to use their discretion when interacting with African American gang leaders, gay and lesbian bar owners, Haight-Ashbury hippies, artists who created sexually explicit works, Chinese American entrepreneurs, and a host of other postwar San Franciscans. In thus emboldening rank-and-file police officers, Agee shows, the city created partners in democratic governance. The success of this model in San Francisco resulted in the rise of cosmopolitan liberal coalitions throughout the country. Today, liberal cities across America ground themselves in similar understandings of democracy through an emphasis on both broad diversity and strong policing.