This week, Professor Bennett Gershman provided his expert perspective to The Crime Report on police evictions of Occupy Wall Street protestors in cities around the country . According to the article, police have acted with restraint in some instances, and with force in others. “Yet law enforcement experts say that tactics for policing protests have changed dramatically for the better, compared to the strategies used in the 1960s and 1970s, during the height of the anti-Vietnam War and the Civil Rights-era demonstrations,” it states.
One factor explored in the article is that the authorities, in many cases, have “offered advanced notice of police action in a way previously unheard of.”
“Before, protesters would not get that advanced notice,” says Bennett Gershman, a constitutional law professor at Pace Law School in New York who has also prosecuted protesters for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
“Even that is a civilizing use of power. The police have learned to behave with more restraint even though many demonstrators don’t think so. In part it has to do with the issues. The War in Vietnam was so bitter and corrosive, and the racism at the center of the civil rights movement—these were really burning, corrosive, incendiary issues. “
Gershman continued: “Today, it’s not like that. We’re talking about the state of the economy and the plight of people without homes and who have lost their jobs. That goes a long way toward ameliorating the conflict and promoting some kind of cooperative effect.”