Tag Archives: George Floyd

USA Protests by the Numbers

New Orleans     The New York Times print edition featured a two-page spread overlaying the map of the United States in a special Black Lives Matter section.  Across the map were the names of the 2000 cities and towns where there had been protests in a recent two-week period against racism and police brutality.  This was a powerful expression of this surge of Americans confronting this persistent disease in our country and demanding change.  Wow!

As impressive as the mapwork was, I was more intrigued about who or what was doing the counting.  The small print said, Count Love.  Ok, I’m game.  Let’s look under the hood.

Count Love turns out to be a website protest tracker working only in the US.  The creators are clear about their motivation:  relief from the election.  They are more measured, saying…

We are Tommy Leung and Nathan Perkins, engineers and scientists with a keen interest in civic responsibility and public policy. We started Count Love in catharsis to 2016, and we continue active development during our free time. We met during overlapping stints at MIT while working on our Masters in Technology and Policy.

Good for them.  And, for all of us.  Whenever you might feel we are somehow sucking all of the oppression down, you can click on the statistic link and bam, find that …

Since January 20th, 2017, we’ve learned about 19,326 protests with over 12,533,319 attendees—individuals demonstrating for inclusion, human rights and the environment.

Our fellow traveling brothers, Tommy and Nathan, don’t gild the lily on the numbers as the president is want to do.  Their rules for counting the love are pretty rigorous.  They use a crawl algorithm to scour newspapers and television news.  They don’t count fluff.  They round down on generalities:  about a dozen, they record as 10, dozens they record as 20, hundreds they list only as 100.  The rookie organizer’s attempt to count children as part of the crowd can’t make it past these guys.

Not only are they conservative in the counting house, but they also leave the windows wide open so that anyone can see what they are doing.  They encourage people to use their numbers.  They link you to explanations more MIT than me and you, but that’s OK, too.  Although transparent, some of their site is clunky.  Open the home page and you find yourself looking at a random district in some state like Washington or California.  I’m not sure why that is, but it’s offset by some good overall graphic representations and categorization of protests that not only include civil rights and the environment, but also collective bargaining, i.e. union work, and legislative protests.

They are missing community actions, but that can be fixed.  Maybe the best thing about their effort here is that they also have an anonymous way that you can submit your own protest to the mix and have it become a part of the data.  I like that.  It’s not the same as front page news, but I like the fact that your action is part of the collective force for change, more than simply a picture on Facebook.

Good work, guys!  Sending some love over to the Count Love crew!

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Please enjoy Change is Gonna Come by Los Coast Feat Gary Clark JR.

Thanks to WAMF.

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Where is Antifa When Trump Need Them Most?

New Orleans      Ol’ Donald Trump dropping like a rock with no one to catch his fall.  He doesn’t want to talk about race, because he sounds even more the fool than usual.   Most recent example was his description of George Floyd, hardly in his grave after being killed by the police as “having a great day,” as Trump grasped at the straws of a better than expected jobs report.  If Trump was right and Floyd was looking down, trust me on this, he was spitting.  Protests in towns large, small, and even tiny for racial justice and against police brutality, and Trump and his sidekick William Barr are gasping and groping for anyone but themselves to blame and for anything to talk about other than the pandemic and the justice of the protest.

They cry out for antifa, like children cry out for Peppa Pig, to come save them from this horror.  Where is antifa when they need them most?  The country and the world are on the streets crying for justice.  Can’t everyone see that if this doesn’t stop, that there might be real change?  Can’t everyone see that none of this helps the president’s re-election?  If Trump can’t find a fall guy, then he’s the falling guy.  Where is antifa?

Remember antifa was a small, loose network of activists who were willing to suit up and stand their ground as anti-fascists at white supremacy rallies and the like.  They were willing to go toe to toe and not back down.  There weren’t many, but the specter that they existed at all as opposed to the gun toting, fat bellied, MAGA hat crowd is the kind of thing that keeps the president up at night with his tweet finger wagging.

The problem is that no one can find any evidence of antifa in these protests.  A study in Minneapolis found that 85% of the arrests were local Minnesota-nice folks.  Those arrested for any vandalism were also locals, but with police records in some cases.  These are all home-grown inside agitators.  Trump now is facing the horror that beset Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson and hundreds of redneck sheriffs down south and up-south as they tried to paint everyone with a happy face and blame it on the commies or the outside agitators.  Trump can’t blame it on the commies probably because he doesn’t want people to think Russia or make his big buddy Vladimir Putin unhappy.  He’s left with antifa, and there’s no one to call in that loose network or to stand as the face of the troubles.

A movement is a problem for power.  It’s everywhere, and there is no quick call to co-opted leaders or a way to threatened the funding of any specific organization to get it to stop.  The marches and actions are multiplying.  The targets are becoming local.  The only way it might stop is when there is evidence of real change.  Trump knows nothing about that.

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