Black Lives Matter protests that have erupted across the United States may be the largest demonstrations in the country’s history, with upwards of 26million people participating.
The figures come from four recent polls including one released by Civis Analytics that found that 15 million people to 26 million people have been a part of demonstrations that spawned following the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.
‘I’ve never seen self-reports of protest participation that high for a specific issue over such a short period,‘ Neal Caren, associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, explained to the New York Times.
The surveys suggest that at the minimum, seven million people participated in demonstrations over the last several weeks.
In comparison, roughly three million to five million people came out for the Woman‘s March of 2017 on a single day. That event was highly organized in contrast with BLM demonstrations, which have been much more organic.
‘Really, it’s hard to overstate the scale of this movement,’ said Deva Woodly, an associate professor of politics at the New School.
Civil rights marches in the 1960s were not nearly as big, the professor added.
‘If we added up all those protests during that period, we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people, but not millions,‘ she said.
A review of international protests for independence by Erica Chenoweth, a professor at Harvard Kennedy School, found that roughly 3.5 per cent of a country’s population protest to unseat government leadership.
More than 4,700 demonstrations have happened in the United States since May 26, averaging out to roughly 140 per day.
‘The geographic spread of protest is a really important characteristic and helps signal the depth and breadth of a movement’s support,‘ said Kenneth Andrews, a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Professor Woodly explained that the protests are taking place in such vast numbers because activists are gaining guidance and framework for their demonstrations from Black Lives Matter.