State violence and movements

riot police Mayday 04

What enables or constrains states (police forces, armies) in the use of violence against popular movements? And what can movements do in practice to limit the violent options available to the state? These are urgent concerns for movements: in 2004 an amazing group of companer@s worked to pull off an EU summit protest in Dublin in the teeth of state attempts to criminalise it and legitimate repression – and successfully reasserted the right of free assembly. In 2011 the rape culture within Irish protest policing became the subject of mass media attention after police were caught on tape joking about raping and deporting protestors in Erris. The state did its best to turn this into an issue about the recordingand failed. As the very interesting Making Policing History pamphlet shows – and water charges protestors have experienced – there is a longstanding continuum between social policing and political policing in Ireland.

And so to research. In this book chapter Ealáir ní Dhorchaigh and I look at the to and fro between the Irish police force and social movements in the 2000s. In this chapter I look at the reasons why states are less able to use lethal force against protestors in Europe. In this article I ask about how movements can dismantle “toxic hegemony”, looking at state violence and the energy industry in Nigeria and Ireland.

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