chapter  9
Harassment and Harassment Arrests
Pages 16

Another Mode of Suppression that feeds into the process of demobilization is the state's execution of Harassment and Harassment Arrests. Churchill and Vander Wall (2002, 44) define Harassment Arrests as

In other words, dissidents are arrested for minor charges that are often false, and that sometimes are based on forgotten statutes that have remained on the books, buried and dormant but nevertheless vessels for legal compulsion. Harassment Arrests can have a devastating effect on a social movement. Such charges, even if false, thrust dissidents into legal labyrinths that consume social-movement resources, divert dissidents from their social-change goals, undermine morale of social-movement participants, and discourage support from potential recruits or bystander publics, as these groups tense up at the possibility of consorting with alleged criminals. Social-movement leaders-who are often the target of Harassment Arrests-are, at the least, temporarily paralyzed as they spend time planning their defense; at most, they are, if convicted, shelved away in prison, sometimes for years, where they are less able to effect change. Importantly, Harassment Arrests serve to shift the focus away from the ideas, institutions, and individuals that are being critiqued by the dissidents and onto

the dissidents themselves. These arrests also tend to generate negative media coverage, which usually overshadows any acquittals or dropped charges that may follow.