Protest policing and the escalation of violence during street demonstrations: a comparative perspective
During the past two decades, protest-events organized around (or against) summits of international institutions such as the World Bank and forums such as G8 and G20 were among the most visible as well as the most controversial. In cases such as Prague, Gothenburg, and Genoa, activists of what came to be known as the global justice movement started to develop unconventional, innovative action repertoires that police forces seemed incapable to contain, including forms of civil disobedience and symbolic provocation.
Indeed, in the history of the global justice movement, clashes between police and demonstrators have been frequent, in some cases with tragic consequences. Authorities have typically attributed responsibility for those clashes to the extreme fringes of the movement – whom they allege to have used urban guerrilla tactics – but also to the movement as a whole, accusing it of ambiguous positions on the question of violence. The police, on the other hand, have been criticized for disproportionate repressive actions infringing upon the civil rights of the majority of peaceful demonstrators. Thereby, empirical research has indicated that the policing of protest crucially affects the evolution of protest events. Particularly when protest is widespread and well supported, repression can contribute to processes of escalation fueled by outrage about police disrespect for citizens’ rights as well as situational dynamics of interaction and adaptation.
Vortrag im Rahmen von Mapping #NoG20 – einem Projekt des Instituts für Protest- und Bewegungsforschung, des Zentrums Technik und Gesellschaft der TU Berlin und des Hamburger Instituts für Sozialforschung in Kooperation mit ZEIT ONLINE.
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Donatella della Porta, Politikwissenschaftlerin; Professorin am Istituto di Scienze Umane e Sociali, Scuola Normale Superiore (Florenz), Direktorin des Centre on Social Movement Studies – Cosmos (Florenz)
Moderation: Dr. Stefan Malthaner, Politikwissenschaftler und Soziologe; Wissenschaftler in der Forschungsgruppe Makrogewalt am Hamburger Institut für Sozialforschung