Protest works: BLM saves black lives

IssueApril - May 2021
News by PN staff

Police killed 15 – 20 percent fewer people between 2014 and 2019 in those parts of the US where there had been Black Lives Matter protests.

Where there were larger and more frequent BLM protests, there was a steeper decline in police killings.

These are the findings of a new study by US economist Travis Campbell posted in February (but not yet peer-reviewed): ‘Black Lives Matter’s Effect on Police Lethal Use-of-Force’.

Campbell wrote: ‘The payoff for protesting is substantial. Every five of the 1,654 protests in the sample correspond with approximately one less person killed by the police over the following years. The police killed one less person for every 4,000 participants.’

Joscha Legewie, a Harvard University sociologist who was not involved in the study, told Scientific American that the difference-in-differences technique used for Campbell’s analysis was ‘very well suited’ for this kind of data.

While Legewie was reluctant to accept a precise estimate of 300 fewer killings, he said the study indicated a substantial – and important – overall trend and correlation: ‘It’s more important to focus on this possibly substantial decrease in the number of police killings as a result of Black Lives Matter.’

Campbell writes that BLM protests increased ‘the probability of a police agency having body-cameras, expand community policing, and reduce the number of future property crime-related arrests, which may partially explain the lethal force reduction.’

BLM has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by a Norwegian MP. It shared the 2020 Séan MacBride Peace Prize with the International Signature Campaign in Support of the Appeal of the Hibakusha.