Black Lives Matter Protests effective: study

Black Lives Matter Protests effective: study

A recent study has found that the Black Lives Matter protests were effective in reducing police violence in America.

The protest movement against the murder of black people at the hands of police first became prominent in the US in July 2013. It has since spread to other nations, including Australia, where related causes have seen it resonate.

The study was posted in February on the Social Science Research Network. It measures a possible correlation between Black Lives Matter protest activity and police homicide numbers. It found that localities where the protests occurred saw as much as a 20 percent decrease in killings by police, resulting in an estimated 300 fewer deaths in the US from 2014 to 2019.

Aldon Morris is a sociologist at Northwest University. While not directly involved in the study himself, he told Scientific American that the data was compelling.

“The data show very clearly that where you had Black Lives Matter protests, killing of people by the police decreased,” he said.

“It’s inescapable from this study that protest matters—that it can generate change.”

According to the study, the occurrence of local protests also appears to have increased the likelihood of police departments adopting body-worn cameras and community-policing initiatives. Cities with larger and more frequent protests also experienced greater declines in police homicides.

The study involved a quantitative research technique called “difference in differences.” It compared police killings in cities that experienced BLM protests with those that did not.

Researchers noted that one of the difficulties was in finding reliable data. As the US federal government does not track the number of cases of police brutality, researchers need to draw on grassroots efforts such as the Robarguns project and media outlets.

Another recent study found that, while some Black Lives Matter protests erupted into violence, the vast majority were peaceful events. According to The Armed Conflict Location & Data Project (ACLED), more than 93 percent of the protests were peaceful.

As is the case with all studies, the results will need to be replicated.

The movement, meanwhile, appears to have had a mixed reception in America’s churches. American theologians such as Cheryl Sanders, Ched Myers and Elaine Enns have worked to highlight the intersection of faith and the Black Lives Matter movement. However, an annual Barna group study released in September 2020 found that American Christians were less concerned about justice issues than the year prior.

The webinar is a co-joined initiative of the Uniting Church chaplaincy-CSU, Port Macquarie and the Social Justice-Pilgrim Presbytery Northern Territory.

Along with Social Justice-Pilgrim Presbytery , The Uniting Church Chaplaincy team at CSU Port Macquarie is a co-host for semi-regular webinars on the topic of Black Lives Matter, and its importance in the Australian church context. For more information on the chaplaincy team, visit their Facebook page here.

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