Policing Dissent: Social Control and the Anti-Globalization Movement

Policing Dissent: Social Control and the Anti-Globalization Movement

Policing Dissent: Social Control and the Anti-Globalization Movement

Policing Dissent: Social Control and the Anti-Globalization Movement

Synopsis

In November 1999, fifty-thousand anti-globalization activists converged on Seattle to shut down the World Trade Organization's Ministerial Meeting. Using innovative and network-based strategies, the protesters left police flummoxed, desperately searching for ways to control the emerging anti-corporate globalization movement. Faced with these network-based tactics, law enforcement agencies transformed their policing and social control mechanisms to manage this new threat.

Policing Dissent provides a firsthand account of the changing nature of control efforts employed by law enforcement agencies when confronted with mass activism. The book also offers readers the richness of experiential detail and engaging stories often lacking in studies of police practices and social movements. This book does not merely seek to explain the causal relationship between repression and mobilization. Rather, it shows how social control strategies act on the mind and body of protesters.

Excerpt

You don't expect downtown Washington, D.C., to be eerily quiet and deserted. But on one Friday morning in 2002, it was. I was standing with a small group of protesters in Dupont Circle at 6:30 A.M. during the International Monetary Fund (IMF) protests. Except for our group, the police, and some morning traffic, the streets were mostly abandoned. Stores were closed; pedestrians were scarce. There was a reason. For several days, the police had warned residents to lock themselves away because “violent” protesters and anarchists would soon be taking to the streets.

The action began to pick up when members of the Pagan Cluster, with their quirky blend of nonviolence, politics, and spirituality, begin to arrive. the traffic, too, picked up; and soon the two began to intertwine. Before long, there were about seventy protestors in Dupont Circle. Surrounding the protesters were approximately one hundred officers dressed in dark Robocop-style uniforms. They wore full riot gear, including black helmets, batons, and plastic handcuffs dangling from their hips. Several held “non-lethal” weapons such as beanbags, rubber bullet rifles, and pepper spray. the combined effect of their numbers, gear, and weapons made us feel like we were in a militarized zone. in fact, the last time I remembered seeing such a scene was as a child in Nicaragua during the Sandinista Revolution. Yet the police in Nicaragua were national guards . . .

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