Saturday, September 05, 2020

The vast majority of BLM protests are entirely peaceful - who knew?

You wouldn't know it to read the papers or to listen to Donald Trump, but a new report has shown that 93% of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests are entirely peaceful, meaning no violence, no serious injuries, no looting, no property damage. The report comes from an NGO called Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED) - which usually focuses on civil wars and civilian deaths at the hands of repressive African regimes - and the Bridging Divides Initiative of Princeton University.
On the other hand, most of these protests attract a heavy-handed and often violent response from law enforcement and, increasingly, from armed, individual wanna-be vigilantes. The report found that BLM protests were much more likely to result in intervention by government authorities than other protests, and much more likely to feature violent means like teargas, rubber bullets, pepper spray and batons. This did not - surprise, surprise! - result in a de-escalation of the protests, but in increased violence.
Obviously, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and the violent protests receive the most media attention, particularly from the right wing press which likes to portray them as violent actions by the ultra-left, and as domestic terrorism. But it gives a good insight into how effectively media reporting can influence our perceptions, and colour our attitudes.

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