Explaining Protest Policing: Police Knowledge and Interaction with…
Explaining Protest Policing: Police Knowledge and Interaction with Protesters
By: Ashaye and Ada
Policing the CRM
Political opportunity structure
protest policing styles are influenced by a stable structure of opportunities determined by institutional characteristics of police and the political and police culture
collective movements operate outside institutional channels, employing alternatives repertories of action such as marches, demonstrations, sit ins, civil disobedience and occasionally violent tactics
police knowledge considered intervening variable between structure and agency
significant in explaining protest policing styles, functioning as a static indicator of the openness and closeness of political opportunity structure
Social movements theory and civil rights in Northern Ireland
in the second half of the 1960s the civil rights movement started to mobilize the traditional quiescent catholic minority around the issue of political and social discrimination in Northern Ireland
Police officers perceptions and attitudes towards protesters are the base of police knowledge.
Police openly blame "holligans" for sparking off public unrest in the streets as well as for arousing alienation felt by the catholic minority towards the police forces.
The quest for contacts with the protest leaders was a relentless task for police officers, although it wasn't always successful.
Three main aspects of police attitudes relevant for discussion: distinction between "good" and "bad" protesters, their failure to link their behavior with catholics mistrust and the denial of media effects on their tactics.
The Special Powers ACI (1922) and other security legislation guaranteed police officers a virtual impunity when on duty. It was not possible to obtain judicial review for any misbehavior by a constable.
There was no institutional mechanism through which to submit formal complaints against officers' misconduct.
The RUC: to prevent the excessive destruction of property , even the employment or tactics deemed as repugnant and undesirable is justified .
The safeguard of citizens' rights (especially those concerning the sphere of freedom of speech and protest) was not even mentioned among the duties to be performed.
The RUC interpreted its role as the ultimate defender of the state from all challengers.
Officers focused on the protection of public welfare and peace, property and human lives. In dealing with an armed uprising, the usual restraints on police conduct would not be so strong.
RUC negotiated and did so in good faith
Cognitive mechanism concerning the steroytyping of protesters
An orientation towards a staunch defense of the state and the Unionist domination by all means;
a disregard for both accountability and citizens' rights to protes
A rejection of the minority's claims about their grievances initially.