Preserving Public Peace, Protecting Private Property



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Book Chapter


This chapter employs terms such as "riot", "mob", "disorder", "mayhem", "disturbance", and "hostile outburst" to denote aggressive, violent group behaviour. It uses the example of communal riot responsibility to challenge the notion of a clear continuum running from public property, where the public's interest entirely trumps any private interest, to purely private property, especially the home where an individual's right to exclude is paramount. The public interest in social peace and stability rests on a common law foundation. Under the English common law, citizenship was accompanied by communal responsibility for the preservation of private property. In keeping with the English tradition, early state laws in the United States also provided for communal riot responsibility. The English Riot Act remains in force today, and allows for certain insurance claims to be refunded to insurance companies at the expense of the local police unit. Perhaps riot acts can be redesigned so as to protect our communities from mob violence.


ISBN 978-1138251977