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Jul 12, 2023Liked by Claire Berlinski

I’m still catching up from vacation, but I have one quibble, Claire. Now, you know I’m no fan of social media, but shutting it down during a riot doesn’t just look bad, by aping authoritarians like Xi, Putin, and Erdogan. It also ties one of law enforcement’s hands behind its back. During our BLM riots in Richmond, I asked a cop friend why they didn’t ask Twitter to stymie the AntiFa accounts. He said that would be counterproductive, because those accounts were how local police tracked the more violent groups around town. They were broadcasting their targets in advance. I’m sure the French police were monitoring social media to track the direction of their rioters as well. And to be honest, the only reason I opened a Twitter account was to keep an eye on developments and make sure the trustfund Trotskyites weren’t heading towards my neighborhood.

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author

This is a good point. I don't know whether the benefits of shutting it down would exceed the losses.

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Claire, it's not often these days that I read something with which I entirely agree. This comes close.

Riot control has certain affinities with warfighting, especially as regards the time factor. It's said in military circles that what you can do with 100 troops right now will require 1,000 troops and a lot more effort if you wait until the day after tomorrow. In many US cities during the 2020 riots, the police were told to hang back and let the riots burn themselves out. Big mistake: That just made things worse. Lesson learned: The authorities must react quickly, with a strong show of force and mass arrests.

Another lesson derived from the military: The police must be adequately equipped and properly trained to deal with riots. Warfighting has been called "the management of violence." That's applicable to riot control. Ideally a show of force will suffice. But if violence must be applied, it has to be carefully calibrated and closely supervised. There's no need to go overboard; if the police are properly trained and fitted out with body armor, helmets and shields, the mob can't do them serious harm.

A third lesson from the battlefield: Effective riot control requires good intelligence. The police force should embody some kind of reconnaissance/intelligence element that can help the leadership build up a picture of the situation in the affected area, so that resources can effectively be deployed. There should also be an effort to identify ringleaders, to be targeted for arrest.

Lesson four: The operation should be run from a well-staffed command post via a dedicated communications net.

No doubt most large police forces do some or most of this, but I have the impression that in the US at least, it needs to be more tightly systemized. I'm sure that many people would decry such a policy, calling it "militarization of the police." But the fact is that police officers organized as a unit to deal with riots do constitute a paramilitary force of sorts. It seems pointless to pretend otherwise.

I definitely agree that good police/community relations are essential as a preventative measure. This is a problem in the US, but far from an insoluble one. Minorities living in high-crime urban neighborhoods often are critical of the police. But they're also the main victims of crime and want a police presence in their neighborhoods, so there's a foundation on which to build. You make me think that the problem's worse in France.

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This is a good discussion and I think I need to think more about it. There is one flaw in the premise here. You say overwhelming force, make lots of arrests. I agree with that actually. But then I wonder "What if the people being arrested don't want to be arrested?" Then you see videos like the ones you've embedded. It seems that the first three are all surrounding the same arrest, yes? It appears to me that the police decided to arrest the one guy, the other protesters are trying to prevent that arrest. They approach the police shouting, etc., and the police shove them away. Now your proposal is there be more police, arresting more people, yes? So each of the folks shouting at the police should be arrested instead of shoved to the ground. Except...and I've seen a lot of videos of police subduing an unwilling suspect...the arrest itself is nearly always shoving to the ground, 4 or 5 police piling on.

I don't see in the first three videos, at least, the police using batons, pepper stray, tasers, firearms, etc.

So how do those arrests get made without this level of violence?

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2nd try.Yes Claire we know how to solve many social problems - BUT "WE as community" DO NOT IMPLEMENT them! the problem is an octopus. Reduced Employment, Housing, Education, etc from Racism - lead to a feeling that you are considered worthless (or worse a parasite), you will never escape the Ghetto, but you can make them afraid and notice you! You want THEM murderers to PAY. Temper tantrums are a release - and Claire you say they happen regularly in France, so perhaps it seems normal to do it... I think the ideals of France/ USA of Equality/ Liberty (&fraternity) make it feel much worse than in Hungary and Poland coming out of the history of the USSR . I live 6 blocks from Floyd murder here in Minneapolis. Our Police "to protect and to serve" cops have been BRUTAL for decades! They killed 5 more innocent blacks last year. IF WE could TRUST in MORAL cops - then yes. I am a rich white middle aged woman in this hippie 1/2 latinx neighborhood. Business has moved on, cruelty to poor has not... the hatred & distrust stays for decades...flaring at each new injustice and lack of change.

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I’m really enjoying this series of essays. Apparently civil unrest in Europe is more potent than its been in decades. See,

https://www.politico.eu/article/energy-crisis-food-and-fuel-protests-surged-in-2022-the-biggest-were-in-europe/amp/

But civil unrest and rioting is much worse elsewhere than it is in Europe or North America. See,

https://www.maplecroft.com/insights/analysis/47-countries-witness-surge-in-civil-unrest/

Being that most rioters are young males, I wonder whether there is a correlation between absent fathers and rioting and I also wonder whether nations with young populations (mostly developing countries) are more prone to rioting than nations with older populations. If that’s true, France might be an exception to the rule.

What you haven’t addressed, Claire, is why there is so much less civic strife in nations you view as authoritarian (Hungary, Poland) than there is in more liberal democracies like France and the United States. In the U.S. it’s not just the rioting over racial issues; the epidemic of mass shootings may stem from the same sense of anger and frustration.

I suppose you could argue that Hungary and Poland have less civic strife because their “authoritarian” governments don’t tolerate dissent, but that’s not right. It would appear that Hungarians and Poles are simply happier, more content and feel more enfranchised than the French or even the Germans and Dutch.

This discrepancy calls out for an explanation. Perhaps the French actually have something to learn from the Hungarians and the Poles.

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founding

Brava again! I cannot disagree with a single thing you said in this piece.

My favorite parts:

"no matter the crime, the severity of the punishment is far less important than the certainty of it" - I've read about this over and over again, in all aspects of criminal justice. Come to think of it, works for parenting, too.

"There just doesn’t seem to be a relationship between being deprived or frustrated, personally or as a group, and participating in a riot." - thank you for encapsulating it so well! Exactly as you noted, why don't middle-aged women riot?

"Teenage boys are idiots. Their brains aren’t developed enough to assess risk. They should have seen a sea of cops the moment they got it in their heads to riot. " - having been one myself, a thousand times yes! I often shudder at the paucity of rational thought processes in my mind at that age.

"No self-respecting country permits the police to pistol whip and then kill an unarmed teenager for a traffic offense. ... But no self-respecting country allows teenage boys to run around looting, vandalizing, setting fires, and tyrannizing their neighborhoods, either." - THIS is what I'd call "fair and balanced"!

"Uncontrolled riots are less caused by ethnic hostility than the cause of it. Immigrants to France and their children will suffer by association for years because of it." - anyone concerned about the well-being of immigrants would do well to keep this in mind.

"That France does not have adequate force at its disposal—despite one riot after another—is a serious indictment of its government. ... Yes, it would be costly to create a police force big enough reliably to prevent mobs from whipping themselves into a frenzy before law enforcement arrives. But it would be a whole lot less costly—in money, lives, and social harmony—than the riots themselves." - unfortunately, this is too long for a bumper sticker. What's the best way to deliver this message to the government, of every country?

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Jul 9, 2023·edited Jul 9, 2023Liked by Claire Berlinski

"But if you put enough calm police on the ground, the riots stop."

Well, yes, if you have a supply of good cops. But that's part of the problem - at least in the USA we do not. We've got tons of cops and they make things worse. And, yes, enough good cops trained at de-escalation would probably prevent riots. If US forces were mostly good cops, there probably would be many fewer riots. In the USA, this would also imply less-repressive laws - as is widely known, the drug war is a racist disaster.

Maybe matters are different in France, but at least in the USA I cannot support a massive expansion of the police forces without extensive reforms. I don't see any sign that those reforms are coming so I think you've moved the problem rather than solved it. Yes, if you had mostly good cops and enough of them, decent laws and a decent justice system, there wouldn't be a problem with riots. But I don't know where we get good cops, especially since brutal policing and an intensely punitive "justice" system is popular here.

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Jul 9, 2023Liked by Claire Berlinski

“But what kind of social strain would affect only young men?”

Not getting laid.

I say that jokingly and seriously. Married men with children are much less likely to do stupid stuff that young, unmarried men without responsibilities.

Also, reading over this article I kept thinking, “hell yeah”. I’ve been a part of the military response to riots before, and, yeah, you show them you’re respectful but that you ain’t playing and they’ll simmer down.

My only critique is that it’s hard to really ascribe value judgements based on videos. The situation on the ground and the info those cops are getting could paint an entirely different picture than simply “mean cop beating people”.

That being said, it does look pretty damn bad over there.

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Jul 9, 2023·edited Jul 9, 2023Author

For sure. Young men are competing to impress women. They seriously overestimate how impressed we'll be by their rioting, but all of this triggers the deep ancestral part of their brains in which they're scaring off predators with displays of aggression, staging raids on competing tribes, protecting their own tribe, and securing scarce resources. Were they really doing that, we'd surely be impressed. It's an ancient set of subroutines gone wrong.

Young men badly need constructive outlets for these instincts. The military is perfect. So is policing. So is sport. The fewer women there are to go around, the greater the aggression and competition is apt to be. Men who channel these instincts constructively *are* rewarded with women. Sadly, so are men who channel them unconstructively. But young women operate on those same ancestral urges--they *do* select mates, at that age, who display these traits.

As for the videos, there are some moments where you can imagine, "Okay, maybe something happened before that," but there are others where it really doesn't matter: Nothing could justify doing that, and no properly-trained, well-rested professional would allow himself to be provoked that way. (I have no doubt that some of the people in the video are trying to provoke them in the hope of creating exactly that kind of video. I've seen that countless time: The professional rioters taunt the cops, get themselves arrested, then fake screams of agony for the camera. I've also seen cops respond to it calmly and refuse to take the bait.) These guys look like they haven't slept in days--they probably haven't--and they've probably spent the past few days frightened, too, because they've been out there in insufficient numbers facing a real prospect of being overrun. They've probably been quite worried about getting hurt, for many days running. You can see that they've been reduced to fury and nerves; they're treating everyone and everything not only like a deadly threat but a personal affront. The way they're screaming and swearing and people is evidence they're not in control of themselves.

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Jul 9, 2023Liked by Claire Berlinski

I’ve never liked going out to bars, and studying evolutionary psychology reinforced that dislike. All I see now at most social events are mating displays.

I get it; I’ve been that guy whose been taunted by professional rioters. Because of my (very) brief experience in that capacity I’m usually willing to cut LE a lot of slack, but you’re right, it sure looks like those cops are just beating the snot out of people and escalating the situation.

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Jul 9, 2023·edited Jul 9, 2023Author

In what context were you controlling crowds/riots, and how were you trained for it, and what ratio of LE to "potentially violent crowd" does the military recommend? I've been looking for a precise numeric estimate of the number of cops you need to de-riot a group of size x--something based on empirical research--but I haven't yet found one that looks to be based on something besides the author's feelings. (Not that there's anything wrong with appealing to the feelings--or rather, the personal experience--of someone who has spent many years doing this: Those would be quite valuable. But I'm looking for something more precise than, "You need cops as far as the eye can see.")

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Funny you ask.

The TLDR is that we were troops turned into ad hoc “special policemen”, flown into DC for the George Floyd riots, given 20 minutes of training with riot gear (which we assembled there), and then were thrown in front of a few hundred protestors.

At that point, the real riots had died down and it was more like very angry protesting, but there were a couple interesting moments, to be sure.

If you’re looking for an official military publication on riot control, I’m pretty sure I can find something.

Right now I’m working with Border Patrol and the Texas Department of Public Safety to help manage the border, but that’s a different mission (border management, rather than riot control).

That’s certainly one thing I’ve enjoyed about the National Guard: you stay close to current events.

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Jul 9, 2023Liked by Claire Berlinski

Excellent. Well done. Really interesting information and perspective.

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Jul 8, 2023Liked by Claire Berlinski

"This is common sense, which leads me to suspect that the people here raving about hordes and laxisme don’t want the riots to end so much as they want the pleasure of ranting about laxisme."

This is probably an important part of why I want to support your work. The internet is so full of people, so desperate for likes, that they'll become indistinguishable from a bot. Thank you for challenging those club houses, and showing people there are exits.

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Next time don't keep me waiting.

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author

Sorry!

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founding

You have nothing to be sorry about! The amount of research you did for this piece is staggering.

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Hey, if she says she is sorry, just leave it alone! ;-)

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I'm just teasin' ya!

I haven't read the piece yet, sorry.

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Excellent article.

A warning.

A police force large enough to crush a riot will be used by the government for any number of unpleasant purposes.

Berlin in 1932/33 had any number of riots (street fights).

Once the Nazis came to power, the police "preemptively" went into the left-leaning districts.

No more riots.

But Sachsenhausen filled up.

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Most of the time, though, that doesn't happen. New York has enough cops. It manages somehow to avoid building concentration camps on Staten Island.

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Yep

That is almost exactly what the Germans said.

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Yeah but Germany was run by madmen. Oh...wait...

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I know. But still I felt bad about making you wait. This took me a much longer time than I planned because I got so interested in the subject and couldn't stop reading about it. I was totally fascinated to discover that no one was able even to *correlate* rioting with "social stress."

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