Dr. John Noakes, Associate Provost for Faculty Advancement and Student Learning, co-authored “Strategic Incapacitation and the Policing of Occupy Wall Street in New York City, 2011,” which was published in Policing and Society.
The abstract follows:
The U.S. national response to the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks accelerated the adoption and refinement of a new repertoire of protest policing called ‘strategic incapacitation’ now employed by law enforcement agencies nationwide to police protest demonstrations. The occupation movement in 2011 was the most significant social movement to utilize transgressive protest tactics in the U.S. in the last 40 years and posed a substantial challenge to law enforcement agencies. In response, police agencies have more fully developed and implemented the strategic incapacitation repertoire, making its implications for American society more apparent. This research seeks to better understand the implementation of strategic incapacitation tactics through a detailed analysis of the policing of the first two months of Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protests in New York City. Specifically, we examine three key conflicts between protesters and police regarding the use of public and private space, police use of surveillance, and the production and dissemination of potentially ‘undesirable’ information. Original data for this study are derived from two week-long field observations made in New York City during the first and second month anniversaries of the OWS occupation in Zuccotti Park. These are supplemented by activist interviews, activist accounts posted on OWS websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds as well as news reports, official police documents, press releases, and interviews with legal observers. In what follows we focus on protest events that occurred in and around Zuccotti Park and NYPD efforts to control activists using the repertoire of strategic incapacitation.