Police tactics at campus protests reveal differences and lessons learned after George Floyd

Police tactics at campus protests reveal differences and lessons learned after George Floyd

As universities and colleges across the US turn to police to clear their campuses of protests over Israel’s assault on Gaza, the response by law enforcement is under heightened scrutiny after thousands have been arrested since mid-April.

Recorded footage of physical — and in some cases violent — confrontations between police and protesters revealed the various tactics used to disperse protesters from occupied school buildings and camp out on campus.

The variety of police tactics seen on campuses across the country revealed differences between police agencies in their training and understanding of generally accepted best practices in dealing with protests and crowd control issues, law enforcement experts told CNN.

Still, experts say, police have been largely measured in their approach and shown restraint in using force – a direct result of lessons learned during widespread protests after the police killing of George Floyd nearly four years ago. The protests were bigger, more intense and more lasting than previous demonstrations.

“In the rearview mirror of every police executive is the summer of 2020, which is a real defining moment for police in terms of handling demonstrations, violent demonstrations,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a law enforcement policy group. “The police were not prepared for the level of violence they faced.”
“You have a balancing act here between the university wanting the police to participate and then you have the police decision makers who have to determine the appropriate response,” Wexler said.

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