It’s been a summer of protesting. And according to a new report, much of that protesting has been peaceful.
Researchers at the US Crisis Monitor analyzed over 10,600 nationwide protests between May 24 (the day before George Floyd was killed by police) and Aug. 22, and found that nearly 95 percent were peaceful. Of the protests linked with Black Lives Matter, over 93 percent were non-violent. Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) and the Bridging Divides Initiative (BDI) at Princeton University launched US Crisis Monitor in order to gather data on “political violence and demonstrations in the United States.”
Still, the report warns that “the United States is in crisis. It faces a multitude of concurrent, overlapping risks — from police abuse and racial injustice, to pandemic-related unrest and beyond — all exacerbated by increasing polarization.”
While protests began in late May as a response to Floyd’s death, the report explains that “the protest movement has also organized around other victims of police violence and racism across the country.”
Indeed, more than 7,750 protests were related to the Black Lives Matter movement, and these protests took place in over 2,440 locations in all states and Washington D.C.
Though most protests analyzed by the report were peaceful, when authorities were present, they use force “more often than not.” And authorities more frequently used force during Black Lives Matter-associated protests. “Over 5% of all events linked to the BLM movement have been met with force by authorities, compared to under 1% of all other demonstrations,” the report explains.
When destructive protests by demonstrators did take place, the “victims” were often statues of slave owners, Confederate leaders, and colonial figures.
As far as frequency of the protests associated with Black Lives Matter, the report explains that while they’ve continued, they peaked in late May and early June before going down in frequency.
Despite this data, the report points to a recent poll that found that 42 percent of respondents believe “most of the current protesters are trying to incite violence or destroy property, even though some are peaceful and want to bring about meaningful social reform.” The report links this disparity to political beliefs or media portrayals.
While the report acknowledges that it can only provide a snapshot of protests and political violence in America, it says it still reveals trends. With just two months to go until the presidential election, tensions are high and will likely intensify, the researchers conclude. The situation won’t improve “without significant mitigation efforts.”