Protesters in Belarus are pulling of the masks of police men, because then these will think twice before being seen to use violence on protestors. Behind that is an effort to then ferret out their names and personal details. There is a fine line here to tread between exposing policemen to stop the dehumanisation of protestors that masks allow them to do, and that escalating into vigilante violence. However it does remind me of a tactic described in Cory Doctorow‘s novel Walkaway, where doxxing policemen is used to then create videos with their family members sympathetic to the cause asking them to stop the violence. It’s one thing to beat up someone anonymously while masked, it’s another having your mother, brother, aunt or grandfather berate you for it in public media.

“The only way to stop violence is to pull off the masks, in both the literal and metaphorical sense. An officer who is no longer anonymous will think twice before he grabs, beats or kidnaps someone,” said the founder of Black Book of Belarus, a channel on the app Telegram devoted to “de-anonymising” police officers, with more than 100,000 subscribers.

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