字幕列表 影片播放 列印英文字幕 Two weeks ago Charlottesville erupted into chaos. Violence met the streets as a groups of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and far right demonstrators clashed with counter-protesters. Some have criticized and blamed the violence on the police response. “The police had every opportunity. They're getting overtime pay, they're getting hazard pay, they've got tens of thousands of dollars of equipment per officer and they came out here and guarded empty space the entire day.” But to better understand why the demonstration ended up the way it did, you have to understand how riot control works. The fundamental problem with riot control is that there are almost never more riot police than rioters so the police need to artificially give themselves an advantage. Part of it is psychological. They make it so rioters think that the police could defeat them. The uniforms riot police wear are intentionally dehumanizing. Clad in protective gear head-to-toe, you can hardly tell one person from the next. This creates a psychological barrier between the police and the rioters. Studies have show that these uniforms make both protesters and the police themselves feel like the police officers are more powerful than they are. It has also been proven that the way riot police act increases their perceived power. The officers almost always march and act in unison. When they act as a collective, just like the protestors, they personally feel as if they have the power of the collective and the crowd does too. The most basic riot police formation looks like this. With the goal of moving the crowd to another location, this front echelon slowly advances, pushing rioters forward with their shields and batons. They're followed by a team leader who organizes the whole group, most likely this officer in this Charlottesville footage. Right with the team leader are a few gas officers. You can see one here. They have tear gas or pepper spray to deploy over the front echelon towards any demonstrators that put up a fight. Following them is a group of arrest officers. Should the front group encounter any particularly difficult rioters, they can open up, let the demonstrator though, then the arresting officers can take the troublemaker into custody. Finishing is the rear echelon which protects the group and can sub out with the front echelon when they tire. Violence happens at rallies because of three facts: crowds are anonymous, anonymity breeds violence, and violence lowers consequences. Crowds are deindividualizing. When you're just one of a number, you don't think or act as much like an individual person. A group of people all with a common goal and a common way of thinking breeds a collective conscience. In a crowd, people don't think about consequences the same way they do when they're on their own. There's a sort of contagion of feeling. Just like a sports game or a nightclub, people act differently than they normally might because other people do too. There's a sort of wordless peer-pressure. Individuals subconsciously escalate their violence to match that of the leaders. People act almost by instinct in crowds and the individual breaks down and becomes a part of the collective. When there's widespread violence, individuals are punished less. There's a lower sense of legal culpability since police often make far fewer arrests than normal. In a riot, authorities can't arrest everyone. They target the leaders, the most violent protestors. It's like running from a bear. You don't have to be faster than the bear, you just have to be faster than the slowest person. Dozens or perhaps hundreds of people committed violent acts in Charlottesville that normally would have resulted in arrests, but out of them, only eight were arrested. Police have to be very careful with the directionality of the protest. The police's goal is to stop or slow the riot while widespread arrests will often further ignite the violence. In Charlottesville, for example, if the police had intervened too strongly, the direction could have turned and members of both groups could have directed their violence towards the police. Police never want to be perceived as unjust, in a riot scenario that is dangerous, so they have to play a careful balancing act between too little and too much response. So what went wrong in Charlottesville? Why did it end up so violent and could the police have prevented it? The “Unite the Right” rally was initially slated to begin at noon but by 9 am there were already hundreds of demonstrators from both sides. The police were not ready that early. They weren't in their riot uniforms and they didn't have significant numbers. The initial plan was to physically separate the two groups on separate sides of Emancipation park in downtown Charlottesville. There were barriers set up, but nobody seemed to anticipate the number of people that showed up. The “Unite the Right” rally was in fact a permitted assembly. That group's presence at Emancipation park was fully legal, but the city did not want them there specifically. The city government tried to block the demonstration permit unless the group agreed to hold their rally at nearby McIntire park, a much larger and more open park nearby, but the rally's organizers successfully contested this move in court on first amendment grounds and was allowed to hold their rally right there in downtown Charlottesville. There simply was not enough space for the number of people who showed up, but the fundamental issue in Charlottesville was numbers. Charlottesville is a small town, fewer than 50,000 people live there, and their police force is correspondently small. While there were thousands of protestors, the police force had fewer than 130 officers. At the same time, the officers working in Charlottesville were hardly experienced with riots. It's not a big city with frequent protests—this might have been the first time many officers used their riot gear in the field. They could not afford for the violence to turn towards them. While the chief of police hasn't spoke much about his tactics, experts have said that the lack of initial intervention was likely a conscious choice to assure that the violence stayed between protestors and protestors, not between protestors and police. Virginia is an open-carry state and many demonstrators carried assault weapons so escalated aggression could have turned the riot even deadlier. At around 11:40 am, the Virginia State Police declared the protest an unlawful assembly meaning it was then illegal to participate. They subsequently began the process of breaking it up carefully. Now, how you break up a protest is very important. Doing it wrong can turn deadly. Their first priority was clearing Emancipation Park. This was both the symbolic and physical center of the protest. They made it know that the assembly was now unlawful, “This gathering has been declared to be an unlawful assembly,” then began to slowly work their way outwards in a uniform fashion pushing back anyone who put up a fight. They strategically removed the violence leaders from the public area. Here you can see the man in red pulled through the front echelon of officers. (12:10) He was likely brought into custody by the arrest officers behind the front echelon since he was one of the main escalators. There were other aggressors escalating the situation like this man with the flag, but the police didn't risk breaking rank to take him into custody. Doing so would expose officers to the violence of the main crowd. Tear gas was used to get the final people out of the park. Part of the reason tear gas is so effective is because the discomfort it brings makes people stop their collective action to worry about themselves. It takes them out of the mass and has them concentrate on the individual. The park was eventually cleared but the riot largely continued on the surrounding streets. What was important was that they police did not try to contain the demonstrators. They did try to contain the violence, but not the people. Whenever riot police intervenes, they always want to leave an escape route for the demonstrators who decide that they've had enough and want to leave. A big reason why riot police look and act so intimidatingly is to get rioters to leave. This is, in fact, exactly how you stop a riot—by getting people to leave. In Charlottesville, after the clearing of Emancipation Park, many of the alt-right protestors moved to a secondary location while the counter-protestors starting marching in the surrounding streets. After many hours of violence, the groups did, to an extent, naturally separate from each other given the additional space and pressure of the illegality of the protest. The police had set up a plan to physically separate the opposing groups from the start but that was an idealistic plan. It was unrealistic to think that passionate, aggressive protestors would self-select into their proper areas. It's hard to know exactly if the police could have done a better job at preventing violence. From analysis its clear that they were overwhelmingly cautious in their techniques which some may consider merited given their inexperience with riots and disadvantage in numbers. The techniques riot police use are designed to give them an advantage where they don't have one. They're tasked with preventing damage, injuries, and death but they do have to play a careful game of balance to make sure that violence isn't immediately directed towards them. If they're overwhelmed with directed violence they can't effectively prevent damaging violence. The police are in a position where they're criticized when they have too little response and criticized when they have too much. Everyone's opinion on the proper level of response differs so it's almost impossible for an assembly to occur without criticism of the police. Charlottesville was an unfortunate situation where thousands of people all came into a tiny town to hold one of the most violent and passionate protests of this decade. The best analysis of the police's response may be in the outcome: there where no directly preventable deaths and damage to the city was minimal. The United States and many other countries around the world are centered on the idea of free speech, so these police officers have the unenviable job of deciding where the demonstration of this unalienable right stops and where dangerous, violent hooliganism begins. On a lighter note, I'll be launching a brand new channel this Thursday, August 31st. I don't want to reveal too much, but it's essentially the continuation of the old TWL series. All you should do now is subscribe here to get the first video right when it comes out.