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Political Science

SENIOR THESIS PRESENTATION: Red Batons: Explaining Variation in Police Use of Force at Public Protests in the United States by Kris Lyon (Lewis & Clark College)

Date: May 2 2013 3:30pm Location: JRHH 202

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JRHH 202


A recent report by the Global Justice Clinic at the NYU School of
Law documents the disproportionate use of force at Occupy
demonstrations by the NYPD. Similar stories have been published in
newspapers across the nation since the 1960s. Scholars have sought
to explain the causes of police repression at protests, but few have
examined the use of force at events with peaceful participants.
Moreover, a possible explanatory variable is missing from the
literature: the political ideology of the protest message. This study,
relying on newspaper accounts and large-N analyses, finds that police
violence at peaceful protests is extremely rare. Yet, liberal protests are
twice as likely to receive force from police and three times as likely to
receive police violence than conservative events. The predictive value
of this theory holds between 1960 and 1980, but becomes less
powerful after 1980.

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