New research from the University of California, Berkeley, shows that police are often the provocateurs of violence during demonstrations.
The Deciding Force project, who has been studying clashes between law enforcement and protestors in 192 cities during Occupy demonstrations in 2011, said that attacks by police against protesters in Ferguson, Mo., are part of a disturbing trend of law enforcement playing the role of agitator.
"Everything starts to turn bad when you see a police officer come out of an SUV and he's carrying an AR-15," said Nick Adams, a sociologist and fellow at UC Berkeley's Institute for Data Science who has been heading the research at the Deciding Force Project. "It just upsets the crowd.”
During the Occupy protests, some of the most violent scenes occurred in Oakland, California, the research finds. According to the San Francisco Chronicle,
In one October 2011 protest over the clearing of an Occupy encampment outside Oakland City Hall, officers fired tear gas and projectiles into crowds, injuring several activists. One of them, Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen, was critically hurt and settled a lawsuit against the city in March for $4.5 million.