And there has been a disturbing trend of violence and armed intimidation by individual actors, including dozens of car-ramming attacks targeting protesters across the country.The new data on the protests and the U.S. government’s response comes from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (Acled) project, an organization that has long tracked violence and political unrest in regions around the world, as well as the Bridging Divides initiative. from Princeton University.
Data collected by Acled has been viewed as a reliable source of information on the death toll in Yemen, civilians killed by governments in Africa, and political violence against women, among other conflicts. The organization launched a new “US crisis monitoring” project this year, fearing that the US is “at increased risk of political violence and instability as the 2020 general election approaches.” .
The study’s findings stand in stark contrast to claims by the Trump administration, and widely reported by Fox News and other right-wing media, that the United States is overrun by violent left-wing protesters and “terrorists.” national ”.
“There have been violent protests, and these tend to get high profile,” Dr Roudabeh Kishi, director of research and innovation at Acled, told The Guardian. “But if you look at all the protests that are going on, it’s extremely peaceful.”
Between the end of May and the end of August, researchers at Acled and Princeton documented 7,750 protests associated with the Black Lives Matter movement in more than 2,000 different locations across the United States, as well as more than 1,000 protests related to Covid-19. About a third of the Covid-19 protests were linked to the reopening of schools, according to the report, all of which were peaceful protests. There have also been at least 70 documented protests against Covid-19 involving healthcare workers, and at least 37 protests focused on the eviction crisis.
While the overwhelming majority of all the different types of protests followed during this period were peaceful, the report revealed a disturbing trend of violence from government forces and non-state actors.
Government authorities were more likely to intervene in Black Lives Matter protests than in other protests, and also more likely to intervene with force, such as using tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray or hitting protesters with batons, the researchers found.
They documented 392 incidents this summer in which government authorities used force against Black Lives Matter protesters.
Journalists covering the Black Lives Matter protests have also faced violence from government forces in at least 100 separate incidents in dozens of states this summer. A reporter was blinded after being shot in the eye by a rubber bullet while covering protests against the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The violent intervention of government forces did not make the protests more peaceful, the report concludes. In Portland in particular, the report found that federal government intervention in the protest “only made the unrest worse”, with the number of “violent protests” rising from 53% to nearly 62% of all. events “after the arrival of federal agents on the scene”.
Armed individuals have been the subject of at least 50 protests this summer.
“Individual perpetrators – sometimes linked to hate groups like the KKK – have launched dozens of car-ramming attacks targeting protests across the country,” the researchers wrote.