The Black Lives Matter movement has seen a huge outpouring of support, both online and in the streets of cities around the world, since the killing of George Floyd in police custody May 25. Floyd’s death was a flashpoint for hundreds of years of racial inequality, brutality, and injustice that also saw the lives of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery cut short in early 2020, and the resultant protests are still ongoing today.
According to data from various sources, the Black Lives Matter movement is now the largest movement in US history. One of four polls shared by the New York Times July 3 suggests that up to 26 million people have attended demonstrations during the current wave of protests (from the Kaiser Family Foundation), while the lowest (Pew) places the number at around 15 million.
While it’s obviously difficult to retrieve exact numbers for the protests, which have often been organised and developed very organically, the suggested scale of the anti-racism protests is extraordinary. “It’s hard to overstate the scale of this movement,” Deva Woodly, an associate professor of politics at the New School, tells the New York Times.
The studies also show that, as of July, there have been more than 4,700 protests of various scales across the United States since May 26, or an average of 140 per day.
Altogether, the polls appear to show that the Black Lives Matter movement has “far surpassed” numbers from other notable protest movements, such as the Women’s March in 2017 and the civil rights marches of the 1960s.
Last month, a separate study concluded that Black Lives Matter protests in the US have had “no measurable impact” on the overall spread of COVID-19, a point that has been repeatedly raised by authorities to discourage demonstrations.
Read Dazed’s report on what it’s like to be arrested during BLM protests in the US here.