The protests one sees on a daily basis are a potent mix of seasoned campaigners who know what they are doing, and a raft of mostly younger first-timers with little background, but a heartfelt belief that what they are doing is right and necessary. This ongoing morality play appears to have severely restricted the responses leaders are willing or able to provide. And police, as the ones who must implement whatever response municipal leaders direct, are thrust into the role of enforcer, with dozens of cellphones dutifully recording every moment of every encounter.
If police are directed to form a barrier in front of some building or other space into which protesters are forbidden entry, and they are spit upon, or are targets for rocks, Molotov cocktails or fireworks, what are their options?
If members of the protest group block traffic, damage property, behave in threatening ways or endanger themselves or others, what are police options?
If it is determined that an arrest should be made and the detainee physically resists, what are police options? (With those helpful videos recording every move.) Of course, it is possible that police actions will please all concerned and earn plaudits from everyone. But if that is not the case, can the police depend on support from city leaders for any painful but necessary actions?