This is the sixth installment in a monthly series reporting on political crowds in the United States. Each month the Crowd Counting Consortium will post updates about trends and patterns from the previous month as recorded by our volunteers. Find all the previous posts in the series here. For our counting methods, please see our first post in the series.
For June 2017, we tallied 818 protests, demonstrations, strikes, marches, sit-ins and rallies in the United States, with at least one in every state and the District of Columbia. Our conservative guess is that from 954,298 to 1,173,771 people showed up at these political gatherings last month, although it is likely there were far more participants. Because mainstream media often neglect to report nonviolent actions — especially small ones — it is probable that we did not record every event that took place. Sometimes no one reports the size of the crowd, which contributes to undercounting.
Nevertheless, we think our tally gives us a useful pool of information to better understand political mobilization in the United States — particularly how reports of crowds change from month to month. In this case, we estimate that June saw a staggering ninefold increase from May in the number of people protesting. In May, during which we observed from 100,807 to 128,464 people participating in crowds.
In fact, our best-guess tally suggests that more people likely participated in crowds in June than in any month since January.
Who demonstrated against and for what in June?
1) The opposition to Trump
Resistance against the Trump administration continued to drive most protests. We estimate that 65 percent of the events we recorded opposed President Trump’s policies. About 52 percent overall were explicitly anti-Trump, while another 13 percent overall took stances on issues that contradict the president’s. Some of the main protests included:
- About 108 separate Equality Marches or similar LGBTQ pride events throughout the month, from about 70 people in Torrington, Conn., and several hundred in Florence, Ala., to hundreds of thousands on the Mall in Washington. Much of the growth in participation in June was due to LGBTQ events.
- About 131 protests during the March for Truth on June 3, which called for an investigation into Russian intervention in the U.S. presidential election. Much as with the Women’s March on Jan. 21, we saw dozens of affiliated protests in small towns, such as Ridgecrest, Calif., as well as in major cities.
- 71 protests against the Senate Republican bill to end the Affordable Care Act, such as a sit-in at the office of Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) in Little Rock and a die-in at Sen. Cory Gardner’s (R-Colo.) office in Colorado Springs.
- About 19 separate protests associated with the #Rally4Trains — including four separate rallies at train stations across Indiana — to oppose Trump’s proposed budget cuts to Amtrak.
- Protests that were not explicitly anti-Trump but took positions contrary to the president’s included rallies against police shootings and against pipeline construction.
Protesters used creative approaches, including a “superhero rally” to oppose the repeal of the ACA in Washington; a flyover in support of women’s health and the ACA in Portland, Maine; flash mobs to support the March for Truth in San Francisco and Sonoma, Calif.; a nude demonstration in Times Square to promote body positivity; and a flotilla on the Des Moines River in Iowa to oppose the Keystone Pipeline.
Notably, as the volume and diversity of crowds increase, many groups have begun to discuss and debate intersectionality quite directly. In one highly publicized example, the Chicago Dyke March banned Star of David flags — and asked some pro-Israeli activists to stay out of their march — in solidarity with Palestinian self-determination. That sparked fairly heated debate about the morality, merits and limits of intersectional identities and solidarity in movements.
2) The support for Trump
About 7.2 percent of the events we recorded were rallies supporting the president and his policies. This is a slight increase from May, when about 5 percent of the crowds represented pro-Trump claims. Most of these were associated with Act for America’s March Against Sharia, which involved about 22 protests on June 10. Such rallies took place in major cities such as New York, Austin, Seattle, San Bernardino, Calif., and Orlando.
When the president held a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, about 6,000 Trump supporters participated. About 1,600 people appeared at a rally for Vice President Pence in Colorado Springs. There were several counterprotests against gay pride events, such as this Ku Klux Klan-organized rally in Florence, Ala. The Klan organized several other actions, such as this one in Mayfield, N.Y., to promote its upcoming events.
The trend of corresponding protests and counterprotests continued in June.
3) Neither for nor against Trump
The final 27 percent of the crowds were involved in actions directed at other politicians or about issues that were neither pro- nor anti-Trump. We found a broad range of such topics, consistent with the trends from the previous month.
For instance, in June, Native American students walked out of a high school play in Laramie, Wyo., to protest the depiction of Native Americans in the play. Jewish Voice for Peace and If Not Now staged civil disobedience actions to protest the pro-Israeli parades in New York and Washington. Several hundred women participated in a topless demonstration to normalize female bodies in Charleston, W.Va. And in Vermont, farmers and migrant workers marched on ice cream giant Ben and Jerry’s over an inability to reach acceptable contract terms. Federal agents detained two Mexican workers during this protest, citing immigration violations.
Demonstrations over budgetary and personnel decisions at K-12 schools drew protests in June. Eighth-graders at Polaris Charter Academy in Chicago marched against gun violence, drawing 450 participants; other Chicago students protested against Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America held a number of rallies across the country, drawing thousands of participants.
Where did people protest?
The most common locations for protests remain sizable outdoor spaces — such as parks and plazas, where crowds can easily gather — and government offices such as capitols, detention centers and courthouses. On June 11, protests were held in Alaska’s State Capitol in Juneau, at the Mall in Washington and at Balboa Park in San Diego.
However, there were several crowds in highly controlled environments, as well. Dozens of disability advocates were arrested from die-ins inside the U.S. Capitol. Nine Central American men went on hunger strike in the ICE facility in Adelanto, Calif., to protest their detention. A hunger-striker protested bail practices at the Mercer County Jail in New Jersey.
How many people were arrested and/or injured in political crowds?
At about 740 events (90.5 percent of the total), no arrests were made. Arrests declined from 349 arrests in May to 221 in June, with about 129 (58.4 percent) of those June arrests made in 16 cases of nonviolent civil disobedience. Forty-three of these arrests occurred on June 22, when protesters with disabilities staged a mass die-in at the U.S. Capitol to oppose the repeal of Obamacare.
There were few arrests due to property destruction or violence, with only nine such reported incidents in June, or 1.1 percent of the total.
Erica Chenoweth is a professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. Oxford University Press will publish her next book, “Civil Resistance: What Everyone Needs to Know,” early next year. Find her on Twitter @EricaChenoweth.
Devin Finn is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Escuela de Gobierno de la Universidad de Los Andes in Bogota, Colombia. Find her on Twitter @dmichelefinn.
Jeremy Pressman is an associate professor of political science and director of Middle East studies at the University of Connecticut. Find him on Twitter @djpressman.