Suggestions have consistently emerged that demonstrations against police violence have themselves been violent. But according to a new report, more than 93 percent of the Black Lives Matter movement protests nationwide have been peaceful.
On Thursday (Sept. 3), the nonprofit Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) published the report that analyzed more than 7,750 BLM demonstrations in all 50 states and Washington D.C. that took place since George Floyd’s death – between May 26 and August 22.
The report found that more than 2,400 locations reported peaceful protests, while fewer than 220 reported “violent demonstrations.” The authors define violent demonstrations as ones that include “acts targeting other individuals, property, businesses, other rioting groups or armed actors,” which means anything from “fighting back against police” to vandalism, property destruction looting, road-blocking using barricades, burning tires or other materials.
The toppling of statues were also considered “violent” by the ACLED. The report states: “Since Floyd’s killing, there have been at least 38 incidents in which demonstrators have significantly damaged or torn down memorials around the country.”
Despite ACLED’s most recent findings, many Americans believe BLM protests have largely been violent. According to a Morning Consult poll, 42 percent of respondents believe “most protesters (associated with the BLM movement) are trying to incite violence or destroy property.” ACLED said these numbers suggest a “disparity stems from political orientation and biased media framing… such as disproportionate coverage of violent demonstrations.”
The ACLED is funded by the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations as well as foreign governments and other organizations. It also highlights a “violent government response,” in which authorities “use force more often than not” when they “disproportionately used force while intervening in demonstrations associated with the BLM movement, relative to other types of demonstrations.” The report references “dozens of car-ramming attacks” on protesters by various white supremacists hate groups.