People, Research, Profiles

Berkeley researchers find police often incite violence at protests

By Public Affairs


Protests like the ones that have wracked Ferguson, Mo., this month often take a violent turn because of police actions that aren’t necessarily intended to provoke but have that effect, according to research led by a UC Berkeley graduate student.

Nick Adams

Nick Adams

A team led Nick Adams, a research fellow at Berkeley’s Institute for Data Science , came to that conclusion after studying almost 200 Occupy protests in U.S. cities in 2011. The research is described in an article in today’s San Francisco Chronicle .

According to the Chronicle , Adams found that protests “tend to turn violent when officers use aggressive tactics, such as approaching demonstrators in riot gear or lining up in military-like formations.” The researchers expect to publish their results this year, the story says.

Adams’s National Science Foundation-supported dissertation research — aided by collaborators met through the institute — collects and quantifies event data from newspaper articles to explain interactions between police forces and Occupy movements. Adams also lectures and leads seminars in sociology, and he is the former Director of National Security and Counterterrorism Policy for The Breakthrough Institute in Oakland.

The Chronicle story can be read here .