Demonstration levels in the United States slightly decreased last week compared to the week prior. Demonstrations involving labor groups and healthcare workers demanding better work conditions surged, accounting for the largest share of demonstrations. Meanwhile, solidarity demonstrations in support of anti-government demonstrators in Cuba account for the second-largest proportion of demonstrations, though they declined significantly compared to the week prior. Demonstrations associated with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement declined again, the third consecutive weekly decrease for pro-BLM demonstrations since summer 2020. Conversely, demonstrations related to the COVID-19 pandemic rose significantly last week, largely driven by demonstrations against the coronavirus vaccine and vaccine mandates. Similarly, demonstrations in support of voting rights protections rose considerably last week, coinciding with the one-year anniversary of the death of former Representative John Lewis, a prominent civil rights activist. Finally, reported traditional militia activity hit its lowest point since the beginning of ACLED coverage in 2020, though militant social movements were still active in multiple demonstrations.
Labor groups participated in a variety of demonstrations last week, including demonstrations against employer-instituted COVID-19 vaccine mandates, as well as traditional labor concerns, such as safer work environments and increased pay. Most demonstrations focused on demands for mandated livable wages, including the Fight for $15 movement. However, a large number of labor-related demonstrations protested employer-instituted vaccine mandates, a major driver behind the significant increase in demonstration events related to the coronavirus pandemic. Anti-vaccine and anti-vaccine mandate demonstrations reached an all-time high last week. The upswell in these demonstrations comes as an increasing number of hospitals are adopting COVID-19 vaccine mandates for their employees amid the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus in the US (New York Times, 21 July 2021). Overall, labor-related demonstration events reached their highest number since August 2020, when workers protested against inadequate COVID-19 protections and a stalled financial “rescue package” amid high unemployment rates (Roll Call, 13 August 2020).
Demonstrations in support of a federal voting rights law accounted for the third-largest share of demonstrations last week. Demonstrators, including civil rights activists and supporters, urged Congress to pass voting rights bills, such as the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (AP, 22 June 2021; CBS, 11 June 2021). Demonstrations in support of voter rights and against barriers to voting were reported in 14 states and in Washington, DC. Georgia, which recently passed the controversial Election Integrity Act, was home to the most demonstration events last week; John Lewis served as a US Representative for Georgia for 33 years until his passing last year. The demonstrations coincided with the one-year anniversary of the death of Rep. Lewis on 17 July (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 17 July 2021).
Finally, reported traditional militia activity last week was limited to a pistol training event held by the American Contingency group in California. Militant social movements, however, participated in multiple demonstrations. On 17 July, members of the Proud Boys clashed with pro-LGBT demonstrators and anti-fascist demonstrators outside the Wi Spa in Los Angeles, California, where they were equipped with baseball bats and mace and fought alongside members of the anti-LGBT group Mass Resistance as well as Groypers and QAnon adherents. Proud Boys also participated in demonstrations against communism and the Cuban government and in support of anti-government demonstrators in Cuba, as well as in an anti-mask and anti-vaccine demonstration held in West Hollywood, California on 22 July, where they reportedly engaged in physical altercations with both counter-demonstrators and civilians (for more on the Proud Boys, see this ACLED Actor Profile). Additionally, the Virginia Citizens Defense League protested on 21 July in Charlottesville, Virginia against a proposed gun ban on county property.
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