It isn't just the shields that are planned, everything is, from what protestors wear, to the tactics chosen in each situation.
The protestors also have a highly developed understanding of the information and media ecosystem and the tactics that work in that environment.
The first strategy is to put their target in a "decision dilemma." This is where they select a method of protest that leaves the person with no good options. No matter how the target reacts they look bad.
That strategy is paired with: "the real action is your targets reaction." you want to use someone's reactions to your protest against them.
IE: Blocking a road. If the police arrest you, play the martyr. If they don't, you now control the road.
Those two strategies are used hand in hand to create actions which activists can turn to their advantage. When they do this correctly they can create imagery that paints them as the underdogs even when they are the aggressors.
It's social and political jiu-jitsu
Much of this is performative, but not in "look good to your peers" kind of way. The principle is "play to the audeince that isn't there." Activists try to create actions that LOOK a certain way to the audience on youtube or watching the news.
This next strategy is self-explanatory: "do the media's work for them." This is where activists make sure press releases and film footage that make them look good get into the hands of sympathetic journalists.
This explains a lot of what gets on TV
And that strategy is to "lead with sympathetic characters."
It's EXACTLY what it sounds like. They put sympathetic people out front to garner sympathy and create the APPEARANCE of underdogs fighting an uphill battle against powerful interests.
The protestors have a highly developed theory of protest optics. They understand videos can be sliced and diced to tell a certain story, so the story that "resonates" with people most, wins. So they are intentional in trying to create moments on video that can go viral...
That isn't to say they aren't also intentional in doing damage. They are. The book Black Bloc, White Riot: Anti-Globalization and the Genealogy of Dissent by author AK Thompson is the starting place for their theory of what counts as violence, and when violence is justified.
Here is Alex Hundert writing is rabble defending "a diversity of tactics" which is a euphemism for allowing violence at protests. Hundert explicitly states a commitment to non-violence is "dogmatic" and "stifles debate" about which tactics to use.
If police react to the violence with arrests, the Wall of Moms is there so protestors can claim the police "attacked Moms. See how the game works?
What I want you to get from this is that none of what you see is happening spontaneously.
These are high level tactics that are given to people supported by a well organized protest infrastructure (where do you think all the people making the shields come from?)
These radical protestors have organized an infrastructure to, in their words, disrupt, dismantle, and deconstruct your society.
I don't want to scare any of you, I just want you to know what's happening because you can't push back against what you don't understand.
Thanks for reading.