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Civil Disorder Cj313 Crisis Intervention
GENERAL Civil Disorders may be generally defined as any conduct of more than one person which destroys of menaces the public order and tranquillity. Civil disorders take many forms. The better known type is a riot in which a mob burns, destroys property or terrorizes individuals. However, other types may be passive. A group that blocks roadways, sidewalks or buildings also interferes with public order. From the United States Code: Title 18 - Crimes and Criminal Procedure; Part 1 - Crimes; Chapter 12 - Civil Disorders 231 (Legal Information Institute, 1997), states: + (1) Whoever teaches or demonstrates to any other person the use, application, or making of any firearm or explosive or incendiary device, or technique capable of causing injury of death to persons, knowing or having reason to know or intending that the same will be unlawfully employed for use in, or in furtherance of, a civil disorder which may in any way or degree obstruct, delay, or aversely affect commerce or the movement of any article or commodity in commerce of the conduct or performance of any federally protected function; or + (2) Whoever transports of manufactures for transportation in commerce any firearm, or explosive or incendiary device, knowingly or having reason to know or intend that the same will be used unlawfully in furtherance of a civil disorder; or + (3) Whoever commits or attempts to commit any act to obstruct, impede, or interfere with any fireman or law enforcement officer lawfully engaged in the lawful performance of his official duties incident to and during the commission of a civil disorder which in any way or degree obstructs, delays, or adversely affects commerce or the movement of any article or commodity in commerce or the conduct of performance of any federally protected function - Shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more that five years, or both. It has been said that the first business of government is maintaining public order (Los Angeles County Sheriff Emergency Operations Bureau, 1997). The requirement to "insure domestic tranquility" is listed in the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution. Disturbing public order or public peace usually involves fighting, attempting or threatening to injure someone, unreasonable noise, damaging property, trespassing or disturbing a lawful business or public meeting. These violations may be spontaneous, as when a mob erupts into violence, or they may be planned, as when a demonstration or protest intentionally interferes with another individual or lawful business. Laws which deal with these types of behaviors are generally grouped into "offences which disturb the public peace" and range from misdemeanors to felonies such as looting and rioting (City of New York; NY Police Department, 1995). RECENT HISTORY The 1960's and 70's were turbulent periods in American history as controversy over civil rights and an unpopular war in Vietnam periodically reached great heights. Confrontations occurred throughout the United States, often resulting in large-scale destruction and occasionally death. Major riots occurred in Los Angeles, California in 1965; Detroit, Michigan in 1967; Chicago, Illinois in 1968; Santa Barbara, California in 1970; and East Los Angeles, California in 1970 and 71 (Los Angeles County Sheriff Emergency Operations Bureau, 1997). Violent rioting once again erupted across the country on April 29, 1992, when four police officers were acquitted after being accused of beating Rodney King, a black suspect at the time. More recently, issues such as abortion, gay rights, immigration and gun control have been highly controversial and emotions are high on all sides of the issues. Incidents of civil disorder have erupted from gatherings at athletic competitions, demonstrations and political rallies. The delicate balance between an individuals legitimate expression of dissent and the right of the general public to live in domestic tranquillity requires the diligent efforts of law enforcement to avoid such confrontations (Los Angeles County Sheriff Emergency Operations Bureau, 1997). IDENTIFICATION The primary problem the law enforcement faces when dealing with civil disorders is the identification of crowds and mobs. A fundamental understanding between these two is needed for effective enforcement. Crowds can be classified into four general categories (Los Angeles County Sheriff Emergency Operations Bureau, 1997): 1. A casual crowd is simply a group of people who happen to be in the same place at the same time. These include shoppers and sightseers; violent behavior is nonexistent. 2. A cohesive crowd includes members who are involved in some form of unified conduct. These consist of worshipping, dancing, singing or observing a sporting event. Though there is intense emotions and discipline involved (ex. Rooting for one's team), they need to be provoked to produce violent behavior. 3. An expressive crowd is one held together by a common purpose. Although they may not be formally organized, they are gathered for the expression of a common idea, or frustration. This type of crowd is best identified as a protest. 4. An aggressive crowd is comprised of individuals who have assembled for a specific purpose. It often has some form of leadership designed to arouse members or motivate them to act upon something. Members are noisy, threatening and highly emotional, which will only require minimal provocation to arouse violence. This type of crowd is commonly seen in demonstrations and strikes. The single most important thing law enforcement must remember is that crowds are constitutionally protected. Article I of the U.S. Constitution states that, "Congress shall make no law respecting the right of the people to peaceable assembly." Assemblies that are not peaceable are not protected; this is the dividing point between a crowd and a mob. Riverside Webster's II Dictionary defines a mob as, " A large, unruly crowd; the mass of common people: rabble." Mobs are usually emotional, loud, lawless, and violent. Like crowds, members have different levels of commitment and there are four different types of mobs (Los Angeles County Sheriff Emergency Operations Bureau, 1997): 1. An aggressive mob is one that attacks, riots, and terrorizes. The mob has a primary object: a person, property, or both. The lawless activity is what distinguishes an aggressive mob from an aggressive crowd. Examples of these are mobs at political protests or rallies, or inmate mobs in jails and prisons when people act out frustration. 2. An escape mob is attempting to flee from something such as a fire, bomb, flood or other catastrophe. Members have lost their ability to reason and are impossible to control. Terror is the key factor involved with an escape mob. 3. An acquisitive mob is one that is motivated by a desire to acquire something or someone. Riots that have lost sight of their overall goal turn into looting sprees. This mob takes advantage of the lack of authoritative control. These mobs include the looting in South Central Los Angeles in 1992, or food riots in other countries. 4. An expressive mob is one that is expressing emotion or revelry following some sporting event, religious activity or celebration. Members display a release of held energy in highly charged situations. These mobs include those that continuously occur after World Cup Soccer matches throughout Europe. CONCLUSION Throughout history civil disorder has been a problem for law enforcement and government. With recent decisions and controversial issue awareness and the emotions involved with these will continuously drive people to commit civil disorder. Law enforcement's role in dealing with civil disorders is to be able to distinguish between the types of crowds and mobs involved with these disorders and to effectively diffuse them. REFERENCES City of New York, NY Police Department. (1995). The Civil Enforcement Initiative. AltaVista, Legal Information Institute. (1997). U.S. Code. 18 USC Sec. 231 (01/24/94). AltaVista, Los Angeles County Sheriff Emergency Operations Bureau. (1997). EOB: Civil Disorder. Civil Disorder. AltaVista, cvl.html. Snow, T. (1997). The Detroit News. When Civil Rights Turns Uncivil. AltaVista,


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