Demo Watch: Discovering Patterns of Peace and Violence between Police and Protesters

Demo Watch is dedicated to helping civil society better understand how to avoid violence during episodes of political contestation. At present, a surplus of coercive technology is trickling down into the armories of civilian police forces in the United States and around the world. At the same time, unpredictable global economic forces are producing insecurities among civilian populations who increasingly call on their governments to make reforms.

When popular grievances do not quickly translate into appropriate policy change, we often see clashes between populations and police that result in unnecessary violence and the delegitimation of vital democratic institutions, especially at the city level.

Our work aims to provide protesters, governments, media, and the broader public with a common understanding of how violence escalates and how it can be prevented. Our work will empower people of good will (within protest movements, police departments, and governments) by giving them the information they need to pursue strategies that can advance civic priorities and governmental legitimacy at the same time.

Students on this project will use a collaborative web app to process the information in over 8,000 news articles describing the interactions between police and protesters during the Occupy movement. Data processed by students will be used to find patterns of peace and violence, which can be used to scaffold broad public conversations, and shift the behavior of police and protest strategists. Students work will contribute to artificial intelligence models able to understand the dynamics between cities and movements and recommend policies more likely to result in peaceful and effective political expression. Students will be expected to perform 24 hours of data curation work to familiarize themselves with the project's data generating process, and will participate in the analysis and modeling of resulting data, and the creation of a report and presentation of findings. 

BIDS and Goodly Labs are offering this undergraduate research project for the Fall 2019 semester. Eligible undergraduate students may register via UC Berkeley's Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (URAP). Eligible undergraduates may apply online by September 3, 2019.

BIDS Affiliates

Nick Adams

Social Science
Alumni - Research Fellow