The Escape Claws

For after all, what is it to be that catte but to be somewhere that I probably should have been after all?

First, a disclaimer. I am a white male of conventional attractiveness, able bodied, and from a nice neighbourhood and outfitted with a selection of higher education qualifications. I am one of the definitive examples of privilege in practice, and the Escape Claws cases are about the leverage that has provided me in terms of benefit of the doubt, negotiation under security’s baleful stare, and an initial threat assessment well down the scale of prioritization. It’s also meant that at times, when I’ve shown up in places unexpectedly, I’ve been assumed to have an inherit right to be there.

That sure won’t happen for anyone outside of the conventional adherence to the protocols of society.

Exploring Spaces

Back when I started being interested in urban space, and specifically, the space where I spent a lot of my time, it was the early 1990s. To say it was a different time is not to put too fine a point on it – pre-digital camera, pre-widespread mobile phones, and definitely pre-security theatre. It wasn’t a golden era, not compared to what we have in the 2020s with YoUTube, GoPros, parkour communities and a lot more access to uncommon knowledge (I can’t parkour, but I do watch for the mindset training). But

When 9/11 hit, every security guard in the low-pay, lousy hours designation suddenly felt that they could be the Next Big Hero Who Stopped The Terrorists, despite the fact that history shows if you’re the security guard who finds the bomb, you’re the security guard getting charged with setting it because the media needs someone to frontpage their screaming headlines, and tag! you’re it.

In the two decades since 9/11 security theatre has doubled down on their presumptions, and made being curious about architecture a pain, and being in places that we find interesting but they don’t a hassle. In some small way, the rise of ubiqutious mobile phones, Instagram, influencers and “Doing it for the ‘Gram” has been useful, because you can often explain to an annoyed security guard that you’re taking photos for Instagram, and they’ll actually understand that. They’re still likely to be annoyed, but they’ll actually be annoyed whilst understanding you’re one of those influencers (even if you’ve got the follower count of a imaginary numbers).

So as always, the advice here is from experience, and with the caveat that I still wander into places security would rather I didn’t, because I find places interesting, and worth exploring what’s over there, and the upper eschelons of society have benefited quite significantly from wrappering in a layer of “Please do not think about going off our predetermined path”.