Made in Detroit… the armored riot coat

As riot police around the country prepare to start violating civil rights and forcibly removing American citizens from their OWS encampments, I thought that I’d pass along this image that my friend Forest brought to my attention a little while ago. Taken in 1956, the photo shows a precursor of the riot gear worn by today’s police, developed here, in Detroit. I don’t have anything witty to say about it. I just find it quaint, and kind of cool looking. I particularly like the little light on top, and the tiny hole though which you could, if you were so inclined, point a gun. Maybe it’s just the Detroit connection that brought it to mind, but the first thing I thought when I saw it was that it would have been cool if the movie RoboCop had been made in the 50’s, starring an actor like Richard Carlson in this “riot coat”.

[Is it just me, or does it look as though the design for this was ripped off from Robby the Robot, who made his film debut in ’56, in Forbidden Planet?]

At any rate, I know I’ll never have the time to pursue it, but I think a book on the history of body armor would be really interesting. And, I think the time is ripe for such a project, given the fact that, every day, we’re being subjected to videos of our highly militarized police forces doing things like shooting rubber bullets into the bodies of those who dare to photograph them.

Come to think of it, a better project might be to develop protestor armor.

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  1. Meta
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    The eviction of OWS protesters took place this morning in New York.

    You can find the details here.

  2. Edward
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    I predict a return of the out-of-the-way “free speech zones” of the Bush era, where protesters can be corralled like farm animals, away from the press.

  3. Eel
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    If we had chipped in and bought one of these for Annie Palmer, she wouldn’t have had to move to Ann Arbor.

  4. Meta
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    From the Reddit thread I linked to above:

    Anyone else find it distressing that:
    1) The first move the police did was remove the press from the area
    2) The airspace was locked down to prevent news helicopters from reporting
    3) The only news we get is from 3 different live streams, two of which are down (as of 3:00 AM CST)
    4) Legal monitors were prohibited from witnessing the serving of any papers

  5. Mr. X
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Well, the ladies sure seemed to love it.

  6. Mr. X
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    When I was searching for that robot image, I came across something else interesting. The robot was from an episode of Gilligan’s Island called My Living Doll. If you’ll recall, they programmed the robot to walk across the ocean floor to Hawaii. Well, I wasn’t aware until just now that the name of the episode was inspired by a short-lived series starring Julie Numar as a robot. Here’s the premise.

    ‘My Living Doll’, starring Bob Cummings, was one of the craziest premises ever – bizarre even for the sixties. Bob Cummings plays a Psychiatrist (Dr. Bob McDonald) who has a live-in robot/patient played by Julie Newmar.

    Robot AF 709 is paired with Dr. Bob to learn how to be the perfect woman. This meant learnig to cook, clean and be obedient. “My Living Doll’ ran in the 64-65 season on CBS, Sunday nights at nine.

    The two co-stars hated each other and fought often – leading to Cummings walking off the set and off the show with five episodes left to film.

  7. Anonymous
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    There’s a meeting tonight at the Michigan League.

    The conclusion of the WCAT & We Are the People (MI)’s series The Power of Working People will take place on Tuesday, November 15th in the Kalamazoo Room of the Michigan League from 7:00-9:00.

    The topic of the social forum will concern how working people – that is, people who must work for most if not all of their income – can build a movement capable of putting this country back on a path toward worker rights, social justice and genuine equality of opportunity. Each speaker will contribute a different piece to our understanding of this overarching question.

    Our invited speakers are:

    Tom Weisskopf – University of Michigan, Professor of Economics (Emeritus), co-founder of Union for Radical Political Economics (URPE)

    Maureen Taylor – Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, Occupy Detroit

    Jane Slaughter – Labor Notes, Editor and Director

    We will break into small groups to share our experiences and talk about what we can do to change this.
    Please contact with any questions.

    This event is organized in concert with a Teach In on the Occupation Movement.

    Thursday, November 17 · 6:00pm – 9:00pm
    1528 CC Little, 1100 N. University Ave. Ann Arbor, MI

    More info here:

    Other Links:

    Washtenaw Community Action Team

    We Are The People (MI)

    Occupy Ann Arbor

    Occupy Detroit

  8. Posted November 15, 2011 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    From the title of the post, I thought it was going to be something more like this or this.

  9. Kim
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    A riot coat would be particularly useful at coat store riot.

  10. TeacherPatti
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the links, Anonymous!! :)

  11. J Hummle
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    It looks like an iron maiden.

  12. Eel
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    This design, on the other hand, didn’t work nearly as well.

  13. Kristin
    Posted November 17, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Perfect for Krampus.

  14. Lowery
    Posted March 1, 2016 at 4:25 am | Permalink

    One of my favorite REM songs is Riot Coat.

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