Protest policing and the reality of freedom: Evidence from Hong Kong, Portland, and Santiago in 2019 and 2020

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Abstract

Protests erupted in many nations around the world in 2019 and 2020, some peaceful and some violent. The police response to these protests varied widely, from calm and restrained in some places to violent and repressive in others. Variations in the police response to these events are reminiscent of David Bayley’s groundbreaking comparative research on the links between policing and democracy and the fundamental role of police in shaping “the reality of freedom.” Drawing on Bayley’s scholarship, this paper examines the police response to protests in Hong Kong, Portland, and Santiago in 2019 and 2020. In all three settings, people have constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly. Yet when people took to the streets to challenge their governments and exercise these rights, the police response provided a useful gauge of the reality of freedom.

Keywords

  • democracy
  • freedom
  • Police
  • politics
  • protest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law

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