Echoes of the past reverberate in the present
By Bob Harrison, Richard H. Donohue, Jr., Pauline Moore and John S. Hollywood
This is the second in a series of articles exploring the history of mass protests in the United States and the various strategies police have employed in response. Using lessons learned from history and recent events, we offer a way forward for law enforcement officials to consider. We recommend that you read the first part to understand the full context of the discussion.
In the 1960s, the United States experienced much turmoil, resulting from a confluence of social ills, racial and ethnic prejudice, and the Vietnam War. Compared to today’s Troubles, events between 1968 and 1972 included more violence from police and protesters. Our history is replete with examples of controversial policy and associated police efforts to uphold the law and manage public safety.
In 1967, President Lyndon Johnson commissioned an investigation to identify the genesis of the violent riots that killed 43 people in Detroit, Michigan and 26 others in Newark, New Jersey, as well as 23 others in other American cities that year. . The Kerner Commission found that in addition to a flawed justice system, unfair consumer credit practices, housing inequities, high unemployment, voter suppression and other forms of Socially entrenched racial discrimination, as well as substandard policing practices have fueled violent unrest in black neighborhoods across the country. . 
Yet despite the findings of the Kerner Commission, hot spots between police and protesters continued well into the 1970s. Police continued to resort to shows of force, tear gas, physical violence, raids , mass arrests and surveillance to control various activities, including mass protests. [2,3] This period called increased strength  fueled a vicious circle of riots, protests and criminal violence.
The failures in the increased strength model eventually resulted in a change to a negotiated management policing model characterized by increased respect between protesters and police. As part of this new style, police and protesters have made efforts to communicate in advance to avoid escalation during protests and reduce the need for police to use force. 
After the adoption of a number of legal guidelines establishing where, when and how citizens could engage in protest (for example by obtaining permits and specifying a time and place of protest), the severity of the police from the protests seemed to diminish. Increased peaceful interaction between police and protesters and better handling of protest events has led to fewer arrests and fewer pepper sprays, beatings and shootings. 
Although the negotiated management policing model has led to a number of successes, especially as it has boosted communication between police and protesters it began to fade in the 1990s when police again turned to more aggressive and invasive tactics and strategies following rioting incidents that resulted in substantial loss of life and goods.
During riots in Miami, Florida in 1980 following the acquittal of four police officers accused of beating Arthur McDuffie to death, the unrest left 18 people dead and more than $100 million in property damage. In March 1992, Los Angeles erupted in anger over the brutal beating of Rodney King by police. When the officers involved were acquitted of criminal charges despite a high-profile videotape of the incident, riots broke out in Los Angeles. Community voices have once again denounced the systemic racism and biases that have guided the behavior of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).  The unrest left more than 50 dead, 12,000 arrests and property damage exceeding $1 billion.
In retrospect, the LAPD’s initial response to the riots was no response at all, as city officials largely did not anticipate major unrest following the officers’ trial. The then LAPD chief assured the public early on the first afternoon of riots that his officers had the situation under control.  Subsequent events in April and May 1992 proved otherwise. Although police, city, and state officials may have had time at some point early in the riots to engage community leaders in negotiating an end to the violence, they did nothing. attempt to do so. The resulting police action, including the use of the National Guard and other military units, had strong elements of police “command and control” typically reserved for major disasters.
In the late 1990s, perhaps in part due to the violence in Los Angeles, the negotiated management model of policing finally gave way to a “strategic incapacitation” or “command and control” model. . 
The eruption of violence during protests against the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Seattle in 1999, followed by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, crystallized this regression to policing tactics reminiscent of the 1960s.
Today we can still see a re-emergence of the command and control model as barriers are erected and perimeters are occupied by the military and police around the United States Capitol building and the Supreme Court. .
PART THREE: Building on recent lessons
1. Kerner Commission. (1968). (National Commission on Civil Unrest, Otto Kerner, Chairman, John Lindsay, Vice Chairman). Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Unrest. National Institute of Justice. Report #NCJRS8073.
2. Donner Fr. (1990). Protectors of privilege: red squads and police repression. Radical History Review, 48:5-31.
3. Earl J. (2003). Tanks, tear gas and taxes: towards a theory of the repression of movements. Sociological Theory, 21(1): 44-68.
4. McPhail C, Schweingruber D, McCarthy JD. (1998). Protest policing in the United States, 1960-1995. Police Protest: Controlling Mass Demonstrations in Western Democracies (Donatella della Porta & Herbert Reiter, eds.), 49-69.
5. Maguire Emergency. (2015). New Directions in Protest Policing. Public Law Review of Saint-Louis University, 35(1): article 6.
6. Christopher Commission. (1991). Report of the Independent Commission of the Los Angeles Police Department (“the Christopher Commission”). Los Angeles Police Department, 1991
Bob Harrison is a retired police chief who is an associate researcher at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation. He is also a course leader for the CA POST Command College. Bob consults with police departments in California and beyond on strategy, leadership and innovation.
Richard Donahue is a policy researcher at RAND’s Boston office. His main areas of research focus on homeland security and law enforcement issues, including training, police-community relations, and recruitment/retention. Donohue led Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center projects and tasks on law enforcement firearms qualifications, manpower assessments, and data assessments on terrorism / targeted violence. He is currently a member of the Education and Training Policy Council of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and has recently published in Policing: An International Journal and International Journal of Police Science & Management. Prior to joining RAND, Donohue retired as a Sergeant with the MBTA Transit Police Department, where he received the George L. Hanna Medal of Honor and was recognized as a 2014 “Top Cops” recipient.
Pauline Moore is a political scientist at the RAND Corporation and a professor of policy analysis at Pardee RAND Graduate School. His research focuses on terrorism, insurgency, security cooperation and assistance to security forces, and targeted violence prevention. The regional focus of his work covers Africa, Europe and the Middle East. She is the author of The Politics of Terror (with Erica Chenoweth; Oxford University Press 2018) and her research on foreign fighters has been published in the Journal of Peace Research.
John S. Hollywood is a Senior Operations Researcher at the RAND Corporation, where he conducts decision science research in the areas of criminal justice, homeland security, and information technology. He is an internationally recognized expert on the use of machine learning in policing and criminal justice technologies more generally and is often interviewed on these topics.