Demonstration levels in the United States moderately decreased last week compared to the week prior. While demonstrations involving labor groups and healthcare workers demanding better work conditions declined, they nevertheless account for the largest share of demonstrations. Conversely, demonstrations related to the COVID-19 pandemic modestly increased, continuing an upward trend that is primarily driven by a massive rise in demonstrations against COVID-19 restrictions. Support for voting rights protections account for the third largest share of demonstrations last week, despite a significant decrease relative to the week prior. Finally, militia groups carried out several patrols and training events last week, while militant social movements continued to participate in demonstrations.
Pandemic-related demonstrations increased last week, driven by a spike in demonstrations against COVID-19 restrictions. The largest share of anti-restriction demonstrations called for an end to mask mandates in schools. Demonstrations against COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine mandates persisted at elevated levels last week, though slightly below the record levels during the week prior. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced new guidance on 27 July, recommending that people in areas with high COVID-19 infection rates wear masks again in public indoor spaces amid the spread of the delta variant (PBS, 2 August 2021). In response, Republican governors in Texas and Florida signed executive orders preventing the implementation of mask mandates (Guardian, 31 July 2021). Texas and Florida account for less than 10% of all anti-restriction and anti-vaccine demonstration events recorded last week (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).
With a third of US states having enacted laws to restrict ballot access (The Hill, 27 July 2021), demonstrations demanding federal voting rights protections were again held across the country last week. These demonstrations account for the third largest share of demonstrations in the country for the second consecutive week. Activists called on both Republican and Democratic legislators to support the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Meanwhile, the Department of Justice warned state lawmakers on 28 July that private audits of voting tabulations could result in criminal and civil penalties for violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1960 and federal laws banning voter intimidation (New York Times, 28 July 2021).
Finally, militia groups reportedly participated in multiple training, recruitment, and patrol events last week. The American Contingency group held pistol training events in Texas and California, and the Georgia III% Security Force held a training event in Georgia. The Yavapai County Preparedness Team (YCPT) held a recruitment event last week in Arizona, which was attended by Republican state Representative Quang Nguyen, a frequent participant in YCPT events. Meanwhile, the Arizona Border Recon group and Veterans on Patrol conducted patrols along the US-Mexico border in Arizona. Veterans on Patrol reportedly detained at least one migrant during their patrols.
Meanwhile, militant social movements participated in several demonstrations last week. The Proud Boys were present at anti-mask mandate rallies in Nashua, New Hampshire and Tampa, Florida on 24 July (for more, see ACLED’s Actor Profile on the Proud Boys). Members of the Nationalist Social Club, a neo-Nazi organization, attended the Tampa rally as well. Also on 24 July, members of the III% movement and QAnon adherents participated in a demonstration against coronavirus vaccines and masks in Atlanta, Georgia. QAnon adherents were also present days later in Suwanee, Georgia — less than an hour outside Atlanta — protesting mask mandates in schools.
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