#Ferguson & Elsewhere, What's going on in Ukraine?

Monica Eppinger, one of the contributors to our Forum “What’s Going on in Ukraine?“, also happens to be Assistant Professor at the Saint Louis University School of Law, which offers her a unique insight on one of our other recent Forums “#Ferguson and Elsewhere“.  Over at her other blog, the Comparative Law Prof Blog, she has some interesting reflections on the two.  Here’s just a snippet:

Serhiy Nigoyan memorial, Ukraine (c) Monica Eppinger 2014

Two commonalities invite comparison between late summer in Ferguson and deep winter in Kyiv.  First is the form of public action, street protest.  It speaks of an electorate that, despite a polity’s record of holding fair elections, resorts to alternatives to usual democratic processes.  The second, and most striking, commonality is the kind of spark that ignited protest, the relationship between citizen death at the hands of police and public assessments of state legitimacy.

via Comparative Law Prof Blog.


Views of Venezuelan Protests, Pt. 4: Looking at The “Collaboration” Between the Police and the Collectives

The editors of Anthropoliteia would like to welcome a special guest post, the fourth in a series from Rebecca Hanson on recent political developments in Venezuela. 


A water tower in Catia with Hugo Chávez's face on one side and the face of Lina Ron (founder of the Venezuelan Popular Union party and symbol of La Piedrita, another well known collective) on the other © Richard Snyder 2014

A water tower in Catia with Hugo Chávez’s face on one side and the face of Lina Ron (founder of the Venezuelan Popular Union party and symbol of La Piedrita, another well known collective) on the other © Richard Snyder 2014

In my last post I looked at the security force that is playing the most active role in policing the protests: the National Guard. While police officers overwhelmingly support the National Guard’s participation, there is second group that the police identify as “policing the protests” whose presence they do not condone: the collectives.

The collectives’ relationship to the state and state security forces has garnered much attention in the press since the protests began.  Providing little evidence, recent news reports (the Wall Street Journal , the BBC, and AlJazeera to name a few) have suggested that the police are working alongside and in collaboration with the collectives to repress protestors.  And this past week Human Rights Watch, though avoiding the term “collective,” published a report suggesting that the police and “armed pro-government groups” were in collusion with one another.

But National Bolivarian Police (PNB) officers describe this relationship quite differently, reporting that they must compete with the collectives for territorial control, access to arms, and even state protection.  For them, their relationship to the collectives is one structured by competition, not collaboration. In fact, since the Metropolitan Police in Caracas sided with the opposition in the 2002 coup against Chávez, officers feel that the government trusts the collectives–ideologically aligned with the Bolivarian Revolution–more than the police to work the protests. Though the police as an institution is often defined by its ability to legitimately deploy force in order to protect the state’s interests, officers perceive the collectives as primarily designated by the state to fulfill this function.

In this post, I provide a brief summary of the collectives’ history and then describe how police officers talk about their relationship to the collectives. Continue reading