Many of the photos coming out of Venezuela, Ukraine, Thailand and Turkey over the past 10 months are images of violent disarray. Pictures of fire, blood and tear gas have woven a theme of chaos into the minds of those who have seen them. Yet, while each of those nations has gone or is going through a period of violent unrest that has pitted citizens against government, a closer look at the riots shows they’re not as disorganized as they seem.
No matter the country, protesters show up to clashes outfitted with gear designed to protect them from deterrents used by the state’s military and/or police. They use shields to block batons, masks of all kind to make sure they don’t inhale tear gas, molotov cocktails to launch attacks of their own, and more.
“I also think that there is a perception that wearing armor or carrying light weapons makes the protestors look more credible and forceful,” Erica Chenoweth, Ph.D., an associate professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, told Mashable via email. “Interestingly, though, the evidence suggests the exact inverse. In many places, the use of armor or weapons may repel sympathizers who see participation as more risky when protests take on this character, thereby undermining the power of the movement.”