Did the Built Environment Contribute to the Trayvon Martin Tragedy?

In an opinion piece for <em>Better! Cities & Towns</em>, Robert Steuteville argues that the Sanford, Florida, case is partly about what happens to a gated development when residents find themselves on the same side of the gate as people they fear.
March 26, 2012, 6am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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The recent killing of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by an armed neighborhood watch volunteer named George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida has become a nationwide news story over the past week. Zimmerman has claimed self-defense and has yet to be arrested, which has sparked outrage in cities across the country, and online.

Robert Steuteville sees a reason why he believes planners should be taking notice of the case - the role that "a poorly planned, exclusionary built environment" has played in causing the tragedy.

Steuteville describes the community in which the killing took place - the Retreat at Twin Lakes, a 260-unit gated development of townhouses - and points out the reasons why its auto-oriented layout and context makes pedestrians the object of "pity or suspicion."

For Steuteville, "Martin was killed for being a young black male on foot, foolish enough to walk in an inhospitable environment to the convenience store for a sugar fix...In all of this agitation, the physical environment that discriminates against, and focuses suspicion on, anyone who doesn't drive should not be forgotten."

Thanks to Robert Steuteville

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Published on Thursday, March 22, 2012 in Better! Cities & Towns
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