The various layers of armor, mechanization and remote operation that we see today alter the relationship between police and protesters from one of the police as neighbors who are defending communities to something that, fairly or not, begins to look like an impersonal army of occupation. That worsens social divisions. We all saw the videos of tension being defused by police engaging the crowd in conversation. It didn’t always work, but sometimes it did. Put the officer in an armored vehicle or helicopter, and that’s not as likely to happen.
The need for now is to stop the violence on all sides. When things settle down, we’ll want to study which style of policing worked better in calming unrest: the kind where warrior cops in sci‐fi garb occupy terrain, or the kind where recognizable humans, the sort who can read each others’ expressions, face off in the public square.