Geographic Information Systems

I Dissent – Peacefully, Of Course

A look at the protests that occurred during the hottest month of 2020.

There are several studies that show incidences of violence and crime increase in hotter months, so I decided to look at some data from the hottest month of 2020 and analyze all of the instances of public outcry that were NOT violent. Using ACLEData from www.acleddata.com, I analyzed a data set to find out how much of the entries recorded were peaceful protests as opposed to riots, violent demonstrations, and protests with police intervention that escalated beyond a peaceful classification. What I discovered is displayed in the graph below:

This graph shows 1,982 incidents out of a total of 2,224 incidents that occurred in August of 2020. For those keeping count, that’s 242 escalated events, and 1,982 peaceful events. That means about 10% of incidents resulted in violence.

Here’s a different version of the same map, but it’s interactive! You can click on each dot to get data about the individual event. An overwhelming number of them are Black Lives Matter protests, all conducted peacefully. (You know, in case you stumbled here by mistake looking for f a k e news.) Of the ones that did result in violence, MANY involved negative police interactions, but that wasn’t my focus, so I don’t display that data here.

I decided to look at these metrics because it’s so easy to be swayed by the media into believing that the purpose of the BLM movement is misdirection, property destruction, and terrorism. But the numbers don’t lie–these are just people standing up to injustice, peacefully, despite the volley of hate being hurtled at them. And even though it was hot, and historically, that would indicate an increase in violence, people still managed to come together and stand up for people who matter. I just want people to think before they react to what comes from media outlets. This data is readily available, if only you look for it.

This post meets the requirements for ESS302 for Spring 2021 at Drew University.

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