According to a new report published by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit that researches political violence and protests across the world, and the Bridging Divides Initiative (BDI) at Princeton University, which collects and analyzes data on demonstrations and political violence in the US, more than 93% of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests have been peaceful. ACLED analyzed more than 7,750 BLM demonstrations in all 50 states and Washington D.C. that took place between May 26 and August 22, in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
“These data reveal that the United States is in crisis,” the report’s authors wrote. “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.”
The report shows that in more than 2,400 reported locations of protests, there were fewer than 220 reported “violent demonstrations.” “Violent demonstrations” are defined by the authors to be, “acts targeting other individuals, property, businesses, other rioting groups or armed actors.” This includes, “fighting back against police,” vandalism, property destruction, looting, road-blocking using barricades, and burning tires or other materials. The report also considers taking down statues of “colonial figures, slave owners and Confederate leaders” as violent incidents.
“Since Floyd’s killing, there have been at least 38 incidents in which demonstrators have significantly damaged or torn down memorials around the country,” the report states.
The authors note that authorities intervened in nearly one in 10 protests, despite the peaceful nature of said protests. They used force such as tear gas, rubber bullets or pepper spray in more than half the demonstrations, according to the report. According to Time, “the report also references ‘dozens of car-ramming attacks’ on protesters by various individuals, some of whom have ties to hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan.”
ACLED also highlights “violent government response,” in which authorities “use force more often than not” when present at protests, and that they “disproportionately used force while intervening in demonstrations associated with the BLM movement, relative to other types of demonstrations.”
U.S.-based ACLED is funded by the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, as well as foreign governments and other organizations. It relies on data collected from the U.S. Crisis Monitor, a project led by ACLED and Princeton University’s BDI.