Demonstrations in the United States declined by almost half last week compared to the week prior. This decline was accompanied by a significant decrease in demonstrations associated with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and by a precipitous drop in demonstrations related to the recent unrest in Israel and Palestine. Additionally, demonstrations related to the COVID-19 pandemic declined by nearly half last week relative to the week prior, hitting the lowest recorded point since the pandemic was declared (World Health Organization, 11 March 2020). Finally, reported traditional militia activity remains low, although militant social movements have increased their participation in demonstrations supporting former President Donald Trump in recent weeks.
Demonstrations associated with the BLM movement declined last week compared to the week prior, returning to levels consistent with those in early May 2021. Nevertheless, demonstrations related to the BLM movement still account for over one-fifth of all demonstrations — the largest proportion of demonstrations reported in the country last week. These demonstrations continue to be widespread geographically, occurring in at least 20 states and Washington, DC. Last week’s demonstrations were largely driven by a campaign in North Carolina on 1 June calling for justice for Andrew Brown Jr, a Black man killed by police earlier this year. The campaign accounted for a significant portion of all demonstrations associated with the BLM movement last week. Overall, around 94% of all demonstrations related to the BLM movement last week remained peaceful, with violent and/or destructive demonstrations reported in Minneapolis, Minnesota and New York City, New York. For more, see ACLED’s report: A Year Of Racial Justice Protests: Key Trends In Demonstrations Supporting The BLM Movement.
Pandemic-related demonstrations decreased by nearly half last week, reaching their lowest number since the beginning of the health crisis in March 2020. The decrease was largely driven by a drop in demonstrations focused on government restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus, as state and local governments continue to lift these restrictions (ABC News, 1 June 2021). For more on the pandemic’s impact on protest trends, see ACLED’s report: A National Emergency: How COVID-19 Is Fueling Unrest in the US.
Reported militia activity remained low last week, reflecting a continuing trend of decreased militia activity since the end of the Trump presidency. Traditional militia activity remains largely confined to training and recruitment drives. However, the Arizona Desert Guardians and Veterans on Patrol monitored an area near the US-Mexico border in Arizona, where they captured video of several groups of immigrants traversing the desert. The number of immigrants has remained elevated since Governor Greg Abbott of Texas and Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona previously described the situation as a “border crisis” in April (Arizona Daily Star, 28 May 2021; Washington Post, 14 April 2021).
Additionally, militant social movements participated in several demonstrations last week. Warriors for Ranchers organized a protest in Austin, Texas to demonstrate against coronavirus-related restrictions. Patriot Prayer participated in a ‘Freedom Faith Rally’ in Oregon against coronavirus-related restrictions and in support of Trump. Such movements have become more active in demonstrations supporting Trump during the Biden presidency. In the 135 days of ACLED data since the 20 January 2021 inauguration, militant social movements participated in over 25% of all pro-Trump demonstrations. Conversely, these groups participated in less than 12% of pro-Trump demonstrations in the 135 days preceding inauguration.
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