Protest Periphrasis: How the Words Used to Describe the Actions of Police Hide Their Violence

Over the past week, in news coverage of the nationwide protests against police brutality, breezy, anodyne words like deploydisperse, and engage have served as a gloss on state-licensed aggression, papering over municipal forces’ and National Guardsmen’s frequently appalling crowd-control tactics. Conversely, protesters—or “rioters”—are said to have hurled or thrown or fired objects at police: bottles of water, rocks, whatever is close at hand.

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