Community service

And so it came to pass that the local municipality set out to discover exactly why its young members harbored such anti-police sentiments. Being good social scientists, they employed a wide range of methods, from interview to surveys to participant observation. It was a very large and – for purposes of efficacy – unannounced study, working so far as it could in the shadow of ordinary everyday uneventfulness. Some concerns about ethics were raised, but largely ignored due to the severity of the situation.

As the results came in, several themes emerged. Or, rather, one major theme and a few supporting side themes all relating back to the major theme. As it happened, the results all pointed towards one thing: the youths were all radicalized against the police by having one time or another – more often than not several – been beaten up for no discernable reason by these very same police officers. The study controlled for a number of other variables – communist propaganda, violent subcultures, computer games, violent subcultures using computer games as their primary recruitment tool, poverty, family relations, gender, class, and so on – but even after extensive quantitative analysis, police-initiated violence stood out as the main factor.

Of particular note is the team engaging in participatory observation, who displayed a marked increase in anti-police sentiments after having suddenly found themselves on the business end of a police raid. Whether this is a significant find or a methodological problem is an open question. They did, however, write an extended analysis of a particular incident: a youth on his way to school being suddenly beaten up by a police officer, deciding to attend anyway despite the bruises, only to be beaten up by a different police officer a few minutes later.

Upon publication of the report, the local police were asked to give a comment on these findings. They did not.

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