In Ukraine’s 2014 rebellion, as an example, a decisive second got here when the nation’s riot police drive, having misplaced religion within the authorities’s skill to insulate them from prosecution or different penalties, refused to clear protesters from the sq. that they had occupied within the capital. Their abandonment of the federal government turned out to be a tipping level, and it collapsed quickly afterward.
Throughout the Jan. 6 riot on the U.S. Capitol, in contrast, decisive motion by the Capitol Police drive protected members of Congress and their workers members, and finally introduced the unrest below management.
The police also can take a extra direct function in election crises, in fact. In Kenya, in 2007, as an example, the nation exploded into violence after credible accusations of vote-rigging in opposition to the incumbent president. Later, an official investigation discovered proof that the federal government had deployed 1,600 plainclothes cops “to behave as brokers of the federal government in disrupting or in any other case being concerned within the elections processes,” and that cops had later killed greater than 400 folks and engaged in rape, looting and different crimes through the postelection violence.
‘They Pushed a Brake’
In Brazil, Mr. Bolsonaro has spent years courting help among the many nation’s army cops, closely armed models that have been as soon as a part of the army through the nation’s years of dictatorship however now report back to civilian governors, mentioned Yanilda María González, a Harvard College political scientist who research policing within the Americas. That has raised issues that the police would possibly again Mr. Bolsonaro in a coup try, refuse to behave in opposition to an rebellion of his supporters or go on strike if his opponent is said the winner.
Adilson Paes de Souza, a retired lieutenant colonel of the army police who’s now a researcher on police psychology, mentioned that he believes the army police are, as people, principally pro-Bolsonaro. However private help doesn’t essentially imply that the police as an establishment would take part, or refuse to intervene, in an rebellion or coup after the election.
Over the past yr, state authorities have taken steps to crack down on political exercise among the many police, who’re barred from making public political statements. In August 2021, as an example, the governor of São Paulo fired a police commander who had posted a public name on Fb for folks to attend a Bolsonaro rally on Sept. 7, Brazil’s independence day. That very same week, the nation’s state governors raised the problem of police help for Mr. Bolsonaro at a gathering, and reiterated the significance of guaranteeing that they stayed inside authorized and constitutional limits.
The Supreme Courtroom has additionally despatched sturdy indicators that it will not cooperate with any coup try by Mr. Bolsonaro or his supporters. The court docket has sharply expanded its personal powers lately in an effort to counter Mr. Bolsonaro, although many specialists now warn that the courts efforts have taken an authoritarian flip, undermining the legitimacy of a vital establishment of Brazilian democracy.