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Shutting Down Protest

Policing, International Summitry, and the G20 Experiment in Brisbane

Binoy Kampmark

This article considers social control mechanisms that targeted public protest at a particular summit, the Brisbane G20, first by examining the management of previous gatherings (Miami and Toronto), and then by looking at the more specific, nuanced techniques deployed in Brisbane in 2014. Despite its violence, the Toronto G20 added a few legal and policing innovations, including designated free speech zones, controlled areas of movement, and, albeit unsuccessfully, the extensive use of public relations. The lessons of Toronto were directly incorporated into the security architecture of Brisbane’s policing and social control effort. Brisbane witnessed one of the more successful efforts at limiting and arguably shutting down social protest in its entirety. Protest narratives were fastidiously managed and shaped by the Queensland Police Service and affiliated agencies. As a response, alternative protest techniques, including counter-summits, were ostensibly fashioned to circumvent such a restrictive security architecture, but were marginalized in doing so.