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Containment includes a range of police tactics such as creating barricades or walls of police to prevent activists getting to an area, separating activists, or keeping them contained in one small area.

Confining protestors to one area is also known as kettling. Melbourne Activist Legal Support has a great analysis of kettling you can read here.

Containing (or kettling) protestors can be done by using barricades, fencing, police vehicles, police tape, police officers and/ or horses to surround protestors. It can also be done by pushing protesters into areas they can’t leave (e.g. up against building walls or into dead-ends).

No-protest zones

No-protest zones is when police attempt to keep protestors out of an area.

In 2001, in light of large global justice protests taking place around the world, the United States government proposed enclosing more than 40 city blocks of Washington, D.C. with 2 miles of 3-metre high fencing and concrete, and banning all peaceful protest and assembly near the White House or the IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings.

This proposal was later abandoned, however many large global justice protests have met no-protests zones’ (see, Ericson & Doyle 1999; Gillham & Marx 2000 for description and analysis of policing of two global justice protests).

Protest ‘Pens’

Protest pens are used to keep protestors in an area.

Police pens can be created by using barricades, police, or even police tape to pen protestors into particular zones and prevent dispersal and breakaway marches/ actions.

A protest pen was used in the violent eviction of the Occupy Melbourne protest in 2011. Temporary fencing was erected around the protestors, preventing anyone from leaving or entering the area, and enabling police to use extreme levels of force to remove people one-by-one.

In 2019 police used police tape to create a protest pen or zone around extinction rebellion protesters, allowing people to leave but not to return or enter. You can read the MALS full statement of concern around that tactic at the extinction rebellion protest here.

Some examples of containment tactics

At the September 2000 protest against the World Economic Forum in Melbourne, Crown Casino was surrounded by a long concrete and wire fence to prevent activists getting close to the Forum venue.

At more recent large marches and rallies in Europe and the USA, police have used well fortified containment areas to fence or blockade activists into areas well away from the target of protest action.

At the ‘Stop Star Wars’ national protests at Pine Gap in the Northern Territory in 2002, police used intensive containment lines to control activist movements. Police used three highly disciplined lines of police to prevent activists approaching the main gates to the Pine Gap base.

Lines of police horses can also be used to contain or separate activists. Long lines of police officers can deter and prevent activists from getting inside an area, or building, and can effectively limit the protest. It also means that in order for activists to protest or intervene in a particular building or event, conflict can become centred on the police lines.

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