The disciplinary insurgency that created the academic field of social movement studies distinguished dissent from crime. This dichotomy has led the field to ignore the relation between the repression of dissent and the control of "ordinary" crime. There was massive repression in the wake of the Black riots of the 1960s that did not abate when the riots abated. The acceleration of the mass incarceration of African Americans in the United States after 1980 suggests the possibility that crime control and especially the drug war have had the consequence of repressing dissent among the poor. Social movement scholars have failed to recognize these trends as repression because of the theoretical turn that built too strong a conceptual wall between crime and dissent. Revisiting this dichotomy is essential for understanding repression today.

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