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"Most of the Peacekeepers turn a blind eye to the few of us who hunt because they're as hungry for fresh meat as anybody is."
Katniss Everdeen about the District 12 Peacekeepers[src]

Peacekeepers

Peacekeepers comprise a gendarmerie which was controlled by the Capitol, and tasked with maintaining order throughout the nation of Panem.

Led by a Head Peacekeeper who is the commander of the garrison of a district, they are the primary instrument of control and repression throughout Panem. Their duties are a combination of a military and a police force, being tasked with apprehending dissidents, rebels, and other lawbreakers, as well as serving as the Capitol's military as both infantry soldiers combined with an air force.

Appearance

Peacekeepers as shown in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

In the The Hunger Games film, the uniforms are white with black stripes at the sleeves and collar. They include white helmets, similar to a motorcycle helmet, with a black stripe running down the center with the Capitol Seal and a transparent visor, black leather boots and gloves, with a baton on their belt. Some of the peacekeepers in the Training Center and most places in the Capitol wear a more ceremonial uniform with a beret instead of a helmet and a sash. In The Hunger Games: Catching Fire film, their appearance is different from the first movie and their uniform is slightly more grey with a full helmet, except for head peacekeepers such as Romulus Thread and a few other peacekeepers around Panem: They have darker visors which hides their face, and heavier looking armor with white boots, knee pads on the pants and grey gloves. The chest plate also seems to be ribbed and covers a wider area. These changes might have just been a tactical uniform for heavier combat, since Peacekeepers were much more aggressive in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and they were attempting to be more intimidating in the wake of the 74th Hunger Games. It is unknown why Peacekeeper garb is white, but it can be deduced that it reflects upon President Snow's appearance and perfectionist idealism it stems from. They seem to never wear camouflage suggesting that they are to be a highly visible reminder of the power of the Capitol.

Recruitment and Training

Peacekeepers are usually recruited from both the Capitol itself and from the loyal District 2, though people from other districts can serve as Peacekeepers as well. Those from the districts join out of desire to serve or for the promise of food and compensation.

It is more difficult to recruit Peacekeepers from the Capitol, as Capitol citizens are used to a life of privilege and often reluctant to submit to a term of rigorous military service. Some join out of desire for honor or glory. Others join for other incentives, such as having their debts absolved in exchange for their service. They are trained mainly in District 2 before being deployed. Each Peacekeeper is obliged to serve a term of 20 years, and during their term of service, they are not allowed to marry nor have children. As a rule, any Peacekeeper recruited from one of the districts was assigned to district other than that which they had come from.[1]

Weapons

The standard-issue service rifle of the Peacekeeping force is shown to be either the IMI TAR-21 or the FN F2000, although they are also seen carrying FN P90 submachine guns at other times. Their sidearm is shown to be the Vector CP1 pistol.

They are also seen using water cannons and riot shields to deal with uprisings and riots. Other weapons seen include whips, batons, studded gloves, and flamethrowers. The Peacekeepers are also shown to pilot the Capitol's vast fleet of hovercraft, which they use to suppress uprisings and rebellions.

Vehicles

The Peacekeepers utilize both hovercraft and ground vehicles, like trains, to allow quick transport within and between districts.

Peacekeepers also pilot the Capitol's vast fleet of Hovercraft which are used for both transportation and combat. They are capable of carrying large payloads of bombs which can be deployed with devastating force against rebellious districts, often targeting residential areas, hospitals and factories to demoralize the civilian populations. Hovercrafts are also utilized by Peacekeepers in surveillance roles and to track down and apprehend fugitives attempting to escape Capitol jurisdiction.

Known Peacekeepers

Duties

Capitol Peacekeeper advertisement.

Capitol advertisement

Peacekeepers are tasked with maintaining law and order through arresting and punishing political dissidents, rebels, and other lawbreakers such as poachers. Punishments usually consist of public whippings and executions for various crimes from hunting, to verbal dissent, to armed rebellion.

The Peacekeepers are shown to have varying levels of strictness throughout the districts. In large districts such as District 11, they are ruthless and brutal, but in District 12, they are much more lenient to satisfy their own stomachs.

While all of the Peacekeepers' duties are very similar, in some districts the punishments differ. In District 11, the Peacekeepers are known to carry out on-the-spot executions for minor crimes, and public whippings and executions are regularly held. By contrast, in District 12, such punishments were rare, at least during the leadership of Cray as Head Peacekeeper. However, the temperament and behavior of the Peacekeepers in District 12 also seemed to change over time. Haymitch Abernathy mentions that prior to the arrival of Cray as Head Peacekeeper of District 12, public whippings were frequently held. In addition, around the time of the 10th Hunger Games, the Peacekeepers were known to have carried out at least two public executions in a relatively short timespan.

In Catching Fire, Cray mysteriously disappears and is replaced by the much more brutal Romulus Thread. In the film, he is shown to have been arrested upon Thread's arrival, suggesting that he was possibly executed by the Capitol for his laxness. Thread proceeds to put an end to the traditional leniency of District's 12 Peacekeepers and imposes a harsh, brutal regime upon the citizens of District 12, carrying out public executions and whippings on a regular basis, and cracking down on hunting and black market trade, activities that were once tolerated by the comparatively lenient Peacekeepers in the district.

During the first two decades after the unsuccessful First Rebellion, it can be assumed that public executions, whippings, and other harsh punishments were regularly held in all of the districts. This was due to the fact that large numbers of former rebel soldiers were still living amongst the populace, and maintained negative attitudes towards the Capitol. Many of them had likely hoped to reignite a rebellion, with Arlo Chance being a primary example. He attempted to sabotage coal production in the district's mines, but was unsuccessful and was caught and publicly hanged for his crime.

Overtime, as the Capitol reestablished social control, and as former rebel soldiers aged and became disillusioned, wealthier districts such as District 1 and District 2 needed fewer harsh punishments, as did backwater districts such as District 12. However, large districts such as District 11 continued to face brutal oppression, with public executions and whippings continuing to be the norm. In addition, all forms of political dissent, defiance, and rebellion against the Capitol remained strictly prohibited throughout Panem, whether it be in the Capitol or the districts. This is evidenced by the fact that Katniss Everdeen keeps her hunting bow hidden in the woods, rather than in her home, as well as the fact that children were taught from an early age to not speak their mind on political matters.

Officers

Officers were a special class of Peacekeepers which commanded other Peacekeepers. Groups of Peacekeepers each had a presiding officer who was responsible for their conduct.[3] They received greater privileges and had a chance to distinguish themselves in a way that ordinary Peacekeepers did not. Any Peacekeeper wishing to become an officer had to take the officer candidate test, which was considered quite challenging. One was required to have graduated from a secondary school, such as the Academy, in order to even be allowed to take the test. The test was mainly designed to measure scholastic aptitude and consisted primarily of verbal, math and spatial problems, though it also contained a military section involving basic rules and regulations. Most Peacekeepers were barely literate and stood no chance of passing it. Those who did pass it were not guaranteed to become officers, but were allowed to begin training. Coriolanus Snow was one such individual who not only took the test, but passed with flying colors, becoming the youngest person ever to pass the test. While normally a Peacekeeper would begin training immediately in the District that they were assigned to, Snow's scores were so high that he was recommended to an elite program in District 2.[4] However, before, he even got there, he was diverted back to the Capitol, where he was enrolled in University and as an apprentice gamemaker under Dr. Volumnia Gaul.[5]

The Hunger Games

Most of the story takes place in either District 12 or the arena. While hunting was technically illegal, the Peacekeepers of District 12 were more than willing to let it slide. They were among the customers who regularly bought the poached meat at the black market known as The Hob.

Catching Fire

Two Peacekeepers restrain a District 11 citizen during the 74th Victory Tour.

In Catching Fire, the Peacekeepers are seen violently suppressing uprisings and unrest that is occurring throughout the various districts. When an elderly man salutes Katniss and Peeta during their Victory Tour in District 11, he is instantly apprehended and shot dead in front of the crowd.

Back home in District 12, the local Peacekeepers were long noted for being relatively lenient compared to those in other districts. The Head Peacekeeper, Cray, was particularly known for his laxness with the law. However, this all changed with the mysterious disappearance of Cray and his replacement by Romulus Thread, who imposes a brutal, harsh regime similar to that of District 11. He begins carrying out public executions and whippings on a regular basis, and begins enforcing laws that were long ignored, including the strict prohibition of hunting and black market trade.

The night that Peeta Mellark proposed to Katniss Everdeen, the citizens of District 8 decide to start an uprising, and were able to temporarily take control of their own district, before the Capitol sent in reinforcements and quelled the rebellion. Following this, Bonnie and Twill disguise themselves as Peacekeepers, dressing in uniforms they had stolen from the District 8 factories in an attempt to flee to District 13. Along the way, they encounter Katniss Everdeen, and inform her about the events that had taken place in their district.

Just before Katniss gets sent into the arena for the Third Quarter Quell, a group of Peacekeepers enter the Launch Room and attack Cinna, beating him unconscious before a terrified Katniss. President Snow had planned this just to throw her off balance before the Games. Following the destruction of the arena and the rescue of various tributes by District 13, the Peacekeepers, under Snow's orders, destroy District 12 with a firebombing raid, killing nearly all of its residents.

Peacekeepers immediately after shooting and killing a man from District 11.

Mockingjay

In Mockingjay, the Peacekeepers are the primary foes that the rebels encounter in battle, throughout the various districts and the Capitol itself. During the war, the Capitol deploys the full might of its military force, including its use of bombs and air support for its foot soldiers.

It is revealed that most of the Peacekeepers are originally from District 2 where they are trained for such a career path. Up until this moment, it was believed that the Peacekeepers came from the Capitol, and some of them did indeed, with Coriolanus Snow being a key example. However, it was a difficult transition for those used to such a lavish lifestyle to live in the impoverished districts.

Peacekeepers in a firefight with rebel forces in the Capitol during the final moments of the Second Rebellion.

After the Battle of the Capitol and its takeover by the rebels, the Capitol's Armed Forces are disbanded, with large numbers of Peacekeepers being captured, tried, and executed by the new government. The military and law enforcement structure of the Constitutional Republic are unknown but it is presumed that a new police force is possibly created, separate from the military to prevent abuse of power.

Trivia

Peacekeepers.jpg
  • Peacekeepers must serve the state for 20 years without marriage or children, thus preventing them from having loyalties to anything other than Panem and the Capitol. This is another comparison to the Roman Empire and its military structure, of which Panem is a post-apocalyptic emulation.
  • According to a report on Peacekeepers on Capitol TV, 87% of Peacekeepers are Male while only 13% are Female. This ratio is reflected in the fact that there are only three known female Peacekeepers, Purnia, another District 12 Peacekeeper and a District 11 Peacekeeper.
  • Though there are exceptions, such Cray, most peacekeepers are very loyal to President Snow and to the Capitol.
  • The fact that most Peacekeepers are from District 2 and not the Capitol is similar to the popular misconception that late Roman army soldiers were German "barbarians" and not Roman citizens. Recent scholarship from noted historians like Elton, Jones, Cowan and many others has debunked this myth, proving that only about 22% of "Late" Roman troops were "barbarians." However, it is true that few Roman soldiers were actually born in Italy.
  • Early into President Snow's Propaganda Film, three men in white hazmat suits are shown. They may be Peacekeepers, or predecessors of Peacekeepers as Panem's early military force.
  • It is possible that the government of Panem improved Peacekeepers after the 74th Hunger Games, explaining their change in appearance, but it is more likely that their change in appearance is just because of the director switch between the first movie and the other three. Alternatively, the government simply supplied already present combat gear to contain the situation that had been growing volatile.
  • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes introduces far more individual Peacekeepers by name than an any other entry in The Hunger Games franchise, providing a behind-the-scenes look at how the Peacekeepers operate.
  • It is stated that the Peacekeepers are far weaker than the modern US army, despite their technological sophistication since the Peacekeepers are not meant to fight wars, acting as a police force that had gendarmerie and moderate combat capability as opposed to a full military.

See also

References

  1. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 21
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
  3. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 4
  4. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 30
  5. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Epilogue
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