The Politics of Protest: Task Force on Violent Aspects of Protest and Confrontation of the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence [review]
So the story goes, the original edition of The Politics of Protest was in fact a report commissioned by the Lyndon B. Johnson Administration in 1968. That year, Johnson created the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence. Its purpose was to explore the reasons for insurrectionary activism in the United States and ways of reducing it. Students of history will recall the United States was embroiled in a war, internal crises on issues of race, voting rights and equality.
Compiled in seven months of studying various social justice struggles, The Politics of Protest as a report became a guide of sorts for law enforcement. During this period of rebellions happening across the United States, police and lawmakers were seeking, frankly, to get the same answers they got from the Harlem and Kerner Commissions years before. Publishers contextualize a reissue of the report in this book as a means of understanding anti-globalization organizing, resurgent Black liberation activism and radical environmentalism. Skolnick goes so far as to state such explicitly in the new introduction. For those who are the ostensible targets of such field research by police, The Politics of Protest is nevertheless instructive in terms of messaging and political strategy.
While The Politics of Protest concerns itself largely with protest phenomena such as riots, Skolnick acknowledges something that comes as no surprise to activists: uprisings are not isolated or simply the work of ruffians. How to respond when the state responds not with the iron fist but the velvet glove, however, remains a tantalizing question left to be resolved.
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