First Advisor

Martin Swobodzinski

Term of Graduation

Winter 2024

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geography






Place-making, Policing, Protest, Racial Justice



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 127 pages)


During the George Floyd protests, police used tactics infrequently seen until now, including the use of tear gas and sonic weapons in contested spaces. Police tactics are presumably sanctioned by policing directives, but little is known about how these tactics may vary across space at a granular spatial level, or how they might be normalized over time. To address this knowledge gap, I used the concept of repertoires of protest control to characterize and quantify the tactics of the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) deployed on racial justice protesters during the 2020 racial justice protests and describe the role of these tactics in normalizing police use of force. In addition, I performed a qualitative analysis of several days of protests to examine the place-making activities of protesters in order to highlight the agency of the protesters who sought racial justice and further contextualize the protest events. To address these issues, I used a mixed methods approach based on Vitale's (2007) framework of hard and soft hat policing tactics, and Nassauer & Legewie's (2019) framework of video data analysis to code and perform both statistical and thematic analyses. I found that while the use of PPBs soft and hard hat tactics did vary between neighborhoods, it was difficult to ascertain a clear pattern. Differences in built environments, transgressive protester actions, and police perceptions of place/protesters were all discussed as contributing factors. Overall, the difference between the average soft hat and hard hat tactics decreased, showing that PPB opted to use more hard hat tactics as the protests progressed. I further contextualize these findings in a qualitative discussion of themes that arose from analyzing protesters' place-making actions, including the impermanent and permanent aspects of a protest, the addition of police violence to the landscape, and the plurality of protestors. These differences in tactics of policing between neighborhoods and across time have implications not just for future protest events, but also for how Portland Police respond to any emergency call, and how tactics of strategic incapacitation can act to further entrench racialized police violence. Examining the police tactics of strategic incapacitation as a process of normalization, rather than as an inevitable progression, enables people to seek alternatives to this form of policing.


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Persistent Identifier

Available for download on Thursday, January 30, 2025

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