Amid a rising tide of political polarization, violent hate crimes, and widespread social mobilization, the United States is at heightened risk of political violence and instability going into the 2020 election. This risk is further exacerbated by an economic contraction triggered by the global Covid-19 pandemic, which may now be poised for a second wave.
Despite these indicators, there have been no initiatives to collect comprehensive data on both political violence and demonstrations across the country, impeding data-driven efforts to build community resilience, and to assess potential threats.
To address this need, the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) and the Bridging Divides Initiative (BDI) at Princeton University are launching the US Crisis Monitor. BDI is based at the Princeton School of Public and International Affair’s (SPIA) Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination (LISD).
The joint project provides the public with real-time data and analysis on political violence and demonstrations in the United States for the first time, and aims to establish an evidence base from which to identify risks, hotspots, and available resources to empower local communities in times of crisis.
“America is not immune to political instability. The US Crisis Monitor builds on ACLED’s pilot project tracking political violence and demonstrations around the country and allows us to publicly release data on the United States for the first time, enabling cross-country comparability within our global dataset. Together with BDI’s invaluable work to support local community resilience nationwide, we hope the US Crisis Monitor will inform data-driven approaches to assessing, mapping, and ultimately reducing risk ahead of the 2020 election,” said Dr. Roudabeh Kishi, ACLED Research Director.
“The US Crisis Monitor is designed to provide new resources for BDI, and others, to help local community leaders come together ahead of the 2020 election to address and mitigate the risk of political violence in an inclusive way. There is so much more we can do now, together, to build stronger communities. We are proud to partner on this project with ACLED, a group that has distinguished itself as a leader around the world in data collection on demonstrations and political violence,” said Nealin Parker, co-director of BDI and lecturer at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.
For BDI’s work to support community resilience ahead of the 2020 election, the US Crisis Monitor will help to fill a critical information gap by providing timely, reliable data to improve decision-making, enhance programming, and ultimately facilitate efforts to track, prevent, and mitigate political violence.
Applying ACLED’s rigorous methodology for monitoring political violence and demonstration activity around the world, the US Crisis Monitor collects data in real-time and publishes weekly updates to inform research, journalism, policymaking, and civil society initiatives. Drawing on more than 1,500 national, regional, and local sources, the first data release comprises over 1,800 total events, including over 1,790 demonstration events and over 10 political violence events, as well as 20 strategic development events that provide additional insight into potential changes to the political environment. Events are recorded in all 50 states and the District of Columbia during the three-week period from June 14 to July 4, 2020, ranging from nearly 200 in California to four in South Dakota. The vast majority of events are peaceful protests linked to the Black Lives Matter movement, which has led to a massive surge in demonstration activity across the country, with a total of nearly five times as many events recorded per week relative to ACLED’s US pilot project last summer. New data tranches will be released each Monday covering the previous week and supplemented with historical data for 2020 as available.
The US Crisis Monitor dashboard maps these events and allows users to track additional trends, flashpoints, and risk factors. These currently include: the use of state force against demonstrators, state targeting of journalists, car rammings targeting demonstrators, the presence of armed individuals at demonstrations, reports of suspected agents provocateurs at demonstrations, the targeting of statues, and events related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This interactive crisis mapping tool will be updated dynamically with the latest data as well as new spotlights and trends to watch.
The US Crisis Monitor is the only source of real-time data that captures both political violence as well as demonstrations in the United States. The project seeks continued funding to ensure that US data collection and analysis continues through the 2020 election and beyond. This project is made possible by support from the Bridging Divides Initiative at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs’ Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination. If you are interested in supporting this work, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.