Chloe Haimson (2020).

“Interactional Resistance During Black Lives Matter Protests: The Political Stakes of Rebelling Against the Public Order.” 

Mobilization: an International Quarterly

Drawing from ethnographic research, this study examines how interactions between protesters and police unfold at Black Lives Matter demonstrations in two cities with distinct policing regimes. From an analysis of contentious moments during these local movement protests, I argue that protesters in both cities consciously resist the terms of engagement set by police in an effort to demonstrate their overarching opposition to police violence and racism, as well as demonstrate that communities can police themselves, while also seeking to avoid arrest or police violence. I call this protesters’ interactional resistance.

This type of resistance is predicated on protesters pushing the boundaries of the rules of engagement with the police while using their structural knowledge of the situation and likely police responses. Interactional resistance bolsters claims by local Black Lives Matters protest movements that communities can be self-policing. In contrast with prior research on policing of protests, a focus on interactional resistance emphasizes the actions and decisions of protesters, not just the police. It also shows how protesters manage to enact resistance even when they are trying to avoid arrest. Further, I also show that police response to the same level of transgression varies depending on the local police control norms practiced in a specific place. Overall, these micro-interactions both point to and shape the structures of repression.