Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Cities Rocked by Past Unrest Offer Lessons in What, and What Not, to Do

By MICHAEL WINES and ERICA GOODE, NYT
AUG. 18, 2014

The trigger for civil unrest in Ferguson, Mo. — the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a police officer — has also provoked riots in American cities both small and large in the last two decades. But few of those disturbances were as stubbornly resistant to resolution as the Missouri protests, which now have drawn the National Guard and even the White House into efforts to restore calm.

And as the unrest in Ferguson stretched into its ninth day after the black man, Michael Brown, was shot by a white officer, Darren Wilson, political and civic leaders in other cities that endured similar violence said their experiences may offer lessons in how to manage such protests — or, in some cases, how not to.

Large mobilizations of police or National Guard forces have played a role in calming many riots. But by studying unrest in Cincinnati, Oakland, Los Angeles and elsewhere, big-city police officials have learned that the speedy release of information and close ties to religious and civic leaders are perhaps even more crucial to stopping violence once it starts, said Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum in Washington.

(More here.)

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