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Robocops vs Occupy Wall St: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Tactics



The most aggressive policing originates in methods developed by law enforcement agencies in Miami in response to mass protests in 2003.

Since the Occupy Wall Street movement began in mid-September, protesters and reporters have been learning the hard way how diverse police departments handle large-scale street demonstrations — sometimes with rubber bullets, sometimes, as in Davis, Calif., with pepper spray in the face.

While police departments have deployed tear gas in cities including Denver, Seattle and on more than three separate occasions in Oakland, Calif., in response to Occupy street demonstrations, protesters in New York have been met with the sheer force of numbers, pepper spray, kettling nets to hold in crowds, and batons. Dozens have been hospitalized by a variety of crowd control tactics.

The tactics vary from city to city, but the most aggressive policing originates in methods developed by law enforcement agencies in Miami in response to large protests against the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) agreement in November 2003. Miami’s approach, in the words of Miami-Dade State Attorney Kathy Fernandez Rundle, created, “a model … for the rest of the world to emulate in the future when these sort of events take place.”

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