Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

New data from the U.S. Crisis Monitor and the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) show that police used violence against leftist demonstrators three times as often as against rightwing protesters. (Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

New statistics from the U.S. Crisis Monitor and the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) show that police used violence against leftwing protesters three times as often as against rightwing demonstrators. (Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images) 

New Analysis Shows US Police 3 Times More Likely to Use Violence Against Leftist Protesters Than Far-Right

The report's findings came as a surprise to virtually no one. 

Brett Wilkins

Black Lives Matter, Indigenous, anti-war, and other progressive activists reacted with a complete lack of surprise to data reported by The Guardian on Thursday that shows U.S. police are three times more likely to use violence against left-wing and social justice protesters than against those on the political right. 

The report, based on statistics from from the U.S. Crisis Monitor—a database created this spring by researchers at Princeton and the nonprofit Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project (ACLED)—found that the overwhelming majority of the thousands of total protests across the nation over the past year have been peaceful.

While most demonstrations in general were not attacked by police, officers used tear gas, rubber bullets, beatings with batons, and other violence against protesters at 511 left-wing events as opposed to just 33 right-wing ones since April 2020, according to ACLED data. 

The Guardian analyzed ACLED statistics and determined that 4.7% of protests organized by leftist groups were subjected to police use of force, while only 1.4% of demonstrations by right-wing groups saw police violence. 

Ironically—or intentionally, according to some critics—people protesting police violence were much more likely to be subjected to that very violence, and the use of force disparity only widened in relation to peaceful demonstrations. The analysis revealed that police were 3.5 times more likely to attack people at left-wing protests where no violence, vandalism, or looting occurred than at similarly peaceful right-wing actions. 

Left-wing protests analyzed include mostly Black Lives Matter, but also actions by Abolish ICE, Democratic Socialists of America, and the NAACP. Right-wing demonstrations include Blue Lives Matter, the QAnon and "Stop the Steal" conspiracy theories, and protests against Covid-19-related public health restrictions over the past year.  

Unsurprisingly, left-wing activists were not surprised by the report, with reactions on social media ranging from feigned shock to "water is wet"-type comments. Human rights attorney Qasim Rashid called the report "a surprise to no one paying attention."

Not only have police attacked peaceful Indigenous, racial justice, economic justice, and other protesters in recent years, in some cases state and local law enforcement officers have actively worked with neo-Nazi factions and other far-right groups to target antiracism demonstrators. The FBI has also repeatedly reported a significant white supremacist presence among U.S. law enforcement agencies. Journalists and innocent bystanders have also been brutally attacked by police at or near leftwing demonstrations. 

Most recently, commentators have noted the stark difference between the largely hands-off police treatment of the right-wing insurrectionist mob that perpetrated the deadly January 6, 2021 invasion of the U.S. Capitol—which killed one police officer—and the brutal law enforcement attacks on peaceful protesters in Washington, D.C. last summer that followed the killings of Black people including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and others.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Despite Housing Crisis, Mississippi May Return Up to Millions in Federal Rent Aid to DC

"For them to suggest people like me aren't working? It's a slap in the face," said one woman affected by the end of the pandemic assistance program. "It's very insulting and degrading."

Brett Wilkins ·


80% of US Voters Across Party Lines Support Expanding Social Security

"With Republicans threatening to cut benefits—and worse, eliminate the program entirely—Dems need to make clear they're fighting to protect and expand benefits."

Jessica Corbett ·


Rich Nations Again Accused of Vaccine Hoarding as UK OKs Moderna Omicron Booster

"While countries like the U.K. buy updated vaccines for their fourth doses, people in low- and middle-income countries are fighting today's variants with yesterday's vaccines."

Brett Wilkins ·


With Trumpian Claims of Cheating, Starbucks Demands Halt to Union Elections

"Unfortunately, it's now in vogue for the losers of some elections nationwide to attempt to reverse elections by any means they think are necessary," said Starbucks Workers United.

Jake Johnson ·


Richest Country on Earth to One of Its Poorest: We're Keeping the Money We Stole From You

A foreign affairs columnist called the move by the Biden administration a "shortsighted, morally unconscionable, and potentially calamitous decision for a country on the cusp of universal poverty."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo