Columbia professor Adam Galinsky explains the psychological research behind how human behavior changes based on the clothes we wear and how officers outfitted in riot gear can lead to further unrest.
As protests over the systemic brutality by law enforcement against Black Americans continue, an enduring image will be of a blue wall of police, outfitted in helmets and riot gear, prepared to stamp out would-be violence. In cities from Seattle to Boston, officers have been covered head-to-toe in battle-ready gear accessorized with batons, shields, and various firearms, appearing more suited to take on a hostile nation’s insurgents than protestors on U.S. soil. In many cases—and most prominently in Lafayette Square near the White House—initially calm police behavior transformed into aggression. Frequently, the shift to more combative behavior was unprovoked or unnecessary.
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