Adam Sneed is a senior associate editor at CityLab, focusing on city life and culture. He was previously a technology reporter at Politico and a researcher at Future Tense, a project of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University.
A roundup of the best stories on cities and urbanism we've come across in the past seven days.
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“How One Immigration Detention Shook a City,” Julie Morse, Pacific Standard
Thursday, January 28, 2016, was a cold morning in Durham, North Carolina, and Wildin David Guillén Acosta was warming up his car as he got ready for school. He went inside for his backpack, and when he returned a group of plainclothes Immigration Custom Enforcement agents appeared at his driveway. His father watched from the window as they threw the 19-year-old to the ground and arrested him.
Acosta was one of five students detained by ICE that week, and one of the hundreds detained that month. His absence didn’t go unremarked. When word about Acosta’s arrest reached his high school, the level of outrage reached feverish heights. Pacific Standard spoke with Acosta, his family, classmates, teachers, and Durham politicians in order to gain an understanding of how his detainment, as the detainment of thousands of other teenagers, can tear apart communities across the nation.
Acosta arrived in the United States in 2014 when he was 17; 17 was also the number of days it took him to travel, by car and foot, from Olancho, Honduras to Durham. One by one, the Acostas fled gang violence in their native country; Wildin was the last to leave. When he finally arrived in Durham, it had been so long his parents didn’t even recognize him at first.
“How Airbnb Factors Into Seattle Displacement Concerns,” Josh Cohen, Next City
If you take light rail through downtown Seattle these days, it’s hard not to notice the glut of Airbnb ads. There are huge posters on station platforms featuring smiling Airbnb hosts with lines such as, “Our spare room financed our dream business.” The ads highlight Airbnb’s central message: that it is a service for people to generate some extra income by renting out their guest bedroom or no-longer-used kid’s room or whole house while they’re away.
And while the majority of Seattle hosts fall into that category, some low-income housing advocates and elected officials are concerned about a growing trend of commercial investors buying up housing stock to list it on short-term rental platforms. They say losing long-term rentals to the short-term market will exacerbate the city’s existing problem with rising rents and displacement.
Taking a cue from cities such as San Francisco, Philadelphia and New York, which have attempted to regulate Airbnb, Seattle City Councilor Tim Burgess recently introduced legislation to limit commercial investment in short-term rentals.
“As we face Seattle’s housing crisis, the proposed regulations will protect our housing stock for long-term residents, while allowing individuals and families to benefit from short-term rentals in their own home,” he tells me via email.
“The (Really, Really) Racist History of Gun Control in America,” Jane Coaston, MTV
There was a time when the NRA fought for a two-day waiting period on handgun sales and limits on concealed weapons permits. And a time when then–California Governor Ronald Reagan signed legislation forbidding the carrying of loaded firearms in public. Before gun control became a progressive cause, it was a right-wing staple, and it was aimed squarely at the rights of African-Americans nationwide.
The institution of slavery was written into the Constitution, but the rights of African-Americans to defend themselves was most certainly not, and concerns regarding slave revolts increased as the slave population rose. States passed laws forbidding African-Americans from carrying weapons. In South Carolina, slaves — who were “of barbarous, wild savage natures” according to Colony Law — could not have unsupervised access to weapons and could be killed freely, provided the murder wasn’t “wanton.” In Florida, white “citizens patrols” were permitted to search the homes of free African-Americans for guns “and other offensive or improper weapons, and may lawfully seize and take away such arms, weapons, and ammunition.” The message was clear: guns — like the ballot box, marriage, and the right to free assembly — were for white Americans only.
Many resisted, and did so with the very weapons they were forbidden to own. Harriet Tubman rescued more than 300 people from slavery with a gun under her arm. Frederick Douglass wrote in 1854 that a good revolver was critical to staying free: “Every slave hunter who meets a bloody death in his infernal business is an argument in favor of the manhood of our race.”
“American Islam: a view from the suburbs,” Justine Howe, The Conversation
On June 10 Americans celebrated Muhammad Ali as a paragon of athletic prowess, dignity in the face of suffering and patriotic dissent.
But his fellow American Muslims more commonly find themselves cast as a “problem” for American religious pluralism and a threat to American security. They join a long list of religious groups who have faced discrimination and public suspicion on account of their faith. Catholics, Jews, Mormons and many other communities have, at one time or other, been labeled as dangerous outsiders.
In response to this scrutiny and to affirm Islam as an American religion, some American Muslims are turning to emerging institutions that, because they are neither home nor mosque, are known as “third spaces.”
“Two miles of beer: Bruges pipe dream becomes a reality,” Jennifer Rankin, The Guardian
It had long been the stuff of bar-stool fantasies: a beer pipeline that could funnel the staple drink of Belgium beneath the cobbled streets and gothic houses of Bruges.
“Everyone always thought, ‘it’s a dream, it’s a joke, it is something that is not realisable at all,’” said Xavier Vanneste, director and heir to De Halve Maan, Bruges’s only continuously working old brewery.
Now, though, the dream is about to become reality: Belgium’s first major beer pipeline will start pumping beneath Bruges from September.
If all goes to plan, enough beer to fill 12,000 bottles an hour will slosh down the two-mile underground pipeline from De Halve Maan (Half Moon) in the city centre to an out-of-town bottling plant.