Abstract: Although central to literature on protest/protest policing, terrorism/counter-terrorism and insurgency/counter-insurgency, little is known about what influences the opinions of the observing audience. There are a great many topics that can be explored but we begin this area of research by exploring the importance of the state, dissident and observer identities. Utilizing a unique experimental dataset on 423 respondents, we explore how racial (dis)similarity between protestors, police and observers/respondents influences perceptions of who is to blame for a particular conflict as well as whether the activities of the police were deemed (il)legitimate. From the empirical investigation, we find that the racial identity of challengers and the police is important. In particular, results disclose that when the identities of the police and protestors are different, the former is more likely to be blamed for the conflagration.
Additionally, African American respondents are more likely to blame black police when the protestors are white. Results also reveal that white observers are more likely to blame protestors than their African American counter-parts. The implications of this research for conflict studies, democracy and intergroup relations are discussed as well as the future directions for work in this area.
Please note that RIPS will be meeting in the Eldersveld Room at noon, the normal time. We look forward to seeing you there.