Comparative Perspectives on Pandemic Policing and Protest During the COVID-19 Crisis 

Dr Greg Martin, University of Sydney

Dr Greg Martin is Associate Professor of Criminology, Law and Society in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Sydney, Australia. He has published widely in criminology, law and sociology, and is author of Understanding Social Movements (Routledge, 2015), Crime, Media and Culture (Routledge, 2019), and co-editor of Secrecy, Law and Society (Routledge, 2015). He is founding co-Editor of the book series, Emerald Studies in Activist Criminology, is an Associate Editor of Crime Media Culture, and is a member of the Editorial Boards of Social Movement Studies and The Sociological Review.

  1. Why did you choose the topic? 

The topic of protest policing is an area I have been working on for many years. I started to become interested in the field after being appointed as a Criminology Lecturer at the University of Western Sydney, Australia in 2008. Previously, I had done a lot of research and publishing in social movement studies. The policing and social control of protests seemed to me to be a natural way of connecting my interests in social movements and criminology. I began work in this field by looking at the policing of space at the APEC meeting that was held in Sydney in 2007. Subsequently, I’ve written about policing protest since 9/11 and policing more generally, which has included forays into surveillance studies and engagement with the literature on legal secrecy. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit it provided another natural fit for my research as one of the major restrictions on public gatherings related to protest events. After recovering from the initial shock of the pandemic, I set about writing a series of papers on the legal status of protest during the public health crisis, which included some comparative analysis of jurisprudence and policing practices in the UK, US and Australia. 

  1. Why did you choose the CLS? 

The Centre of Law and Society provides a good fit for me and my work which is multidisciplinary, spanning sociology, criminology and socio-legal studies. I saw the call for applications on Twitter that Roxanna Dehaghani posted and thought it would an interesting way to connect with colleagues in the UK, given at the time I was interested in cross-jurisdictional developments around policing and protest during COVID-19. More broadly, as a critical legal studies scholar with an interest in movement law, I was attracted to the School of Law and Politics. You don’t often see law connected to politics in that way! I was also interested in connecting with the Cardiff Centre for Crime, Law and Justice. 

  1. What did you contribute from the CLS fellowship? 

I gave a presentation for the Cardiff Centre for Crime, Law and Justice which was based on a paper that was due to be published in Justice, Power and Resistance. In that paper, I argue policing at protests is relatively autonomous of court decision making either allowing or prohibiting protests. The paper represents an implied critique of the negotiated management model of protest policing, which sets up a legal fiction of police and protestors negotiating over protest events with equal bargaining power.  Due to the tyranny of distance and time zones (I’m based in Sydney, Australia) I only managed to have a few Zoom sessions with Fred Cram and Roxanna Dehaghani. These were very valuable sessions nonetheless, which enabled us to exchange ideas and experiences and come up with some ideas for potential collaboration. I hope to be able to build on those connections and in future visit Cardiff in person.