In several Brazilian favelas, gangs and militias took matters into their own hands, spreading information on curfews and other restrictions via social media and patrolling the streets to ensure compliance with the curfew. In Southern Italy, local mafias acted as alternative social welfare-providers by financially supporting businesses that faced bankruptcy caused by Coronavirus-related lockdowns and by providing free groceries to communities. In such times of crisis, the state’s failure to provide adequate citizen security feeds a popular narrative used by violent non-state actors to mobilize support. That gangs may seize the role of benevolent social actors that take care of their communities might come as a surprise to many, thus making headlines across the world. Yet, this is not a new phenomenon as Dr. Janina Pawelz explains.
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