technology, social movements, and state repression of them

Prompt:
clear and supported thesis needed.
This week’s lecture describes a way to think about the relationship between technology, social movements, and state repression of them–affordances and constraints–and briefly introduces the setting for your research brief. This week’s readings describe a few different case studies of technology used by social movements and against social movements. Your research brief will draw on these readings as examples of particular strategies you might use or against which you might compare your own strategy.

For this week’s brief, imagine you are either leading a mass movement to occupy UMD College Park and win your demands (see below), or the National Guard’s attempt to quash that movement. Your thesis will describe your general strategy for using digital technology to win your campaign and why it will work. Your evidence will explain what you will do and how it will work, drawing on our readings.

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Per lecture, UMD students repeatedly occupied campus in the 1970s to protest the draft, the US bombing campaign in Cambodia, and the University’s relationship with the military (in both its research and as a space for recruitment). Why would this happen again? Imagine it is February 2021. The country has sunk into an even deeper economic recession because of the lack of federal action on the pandemic, unemployment, and distressed businesses. Before he left office, President Trump initiated a ground war in Venezuela. The draft may be re-instituted, but even if it’s not, a lot of people, especially Latino folks, are angry about money being spent to invade a small South American country when millions are out of work at home. Seniors are terrified about graduating into an economy with 15% unemployment. And to top it all off, echoing Governor Martin O’Malley’s response to the 2014 state budget deficit, Governor Larry Hogan has said that the UMD must make up its budget deficit by immediately charging every student a new, mid-year $2000 fee. Students who do not pay the fee will have their Spring 2021 registration cancelled. But the straw that breaks the camel’s back, similar to the 1970 protests, is state violence. A UMPD officer puts a Black male student in the hospital, similar to the 2016 incident in Courtyards, during an attempt to arrest him for an off-campus robbery he did not commit.

Similar to 1970, hundreds of students immediately begin occupying dorms and academic buildings to protest the police violence, the fee, the war, and the economic crisis. The protests and occupations spread as UMPD reacts clumsily, pepper spraying students in front of TV cameras. The movement has two demands:

1) Leadership must resign. This means Governor Larry Hogan, UMD President Pines, and UMPD chief David Mitchell.

2) The $2000 fee must be immediately reversed.

Administration has not indicated they will meet the demands. They are deeply concerned about the protests, which are gaining headlines across the country and only further stressing the campus’ budget during a recession. They have asked Governor Hogan to send in the National Guard. He has agreed. The National Guard’s goal is end the protests with a minimum of violence, but to make sure the movement realizes that these actions are unacceptable.

You take on the role of either a protest leader or a National Guard officer. You must plan how you will achieve your goals, and how you will use whatever technology at your disposal to win. Students can assume they have unlimited expertise and unlimited personnel but very limited funds. National Guardsmen can assume they have unlimited expertise and funds, but limited personnel. The movement is big but stretched, the authorities are well-organized but relatively smaller.

>>>>These are the reading materials for the week. Only pull from these sources to make connections and support analysis:<<<

https://cmsimpact.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/beyond_the_hashtags_2016.pdf

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/04/04/world/asia/xinjiang-china-surveillance-prison.html

https://www.wired.com/2013/01/anti-drone-camouflage-apparel/

https://www.aclu.org/report/community-control-over-police-surveillance-technology-101

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