Comparing BLM protesters to Anti-Lockdown protesters probably seems like comparing pagans and Christians or saying left is right and up is down.   It’s far more common for those on the political right to characterize BLM as Antifa fascists promoting violence and those on the left describing Anti-Lockdown as ignorant, gun toting racists promoting violence.

Violence being the shared thread,  but in both cases, wildly wrong.  Violence was not widespread at either kind of protest.

In fact, both sets of protestors are racially and politically diverse and broadly representative of the US population.

The “median” protester is white, middle class (via income measures), employed and a parent.  Black people were overrepresented at BLM protests but only very slightly at 15% vs 13% of the population.  But more usefully, research shows protesters at both events are more representative of America than policymakers and than voters on gender, race and ethnicity.

The real “man bites dog” finding: there is substantial overlap in the two movements.  

In fact, 30% of protesters attended both.  And this wasn’t a form of counter protest.  Seventy-percent of anti-lockdown protesters supported BLM protests and similar figures in reverse.

Your cognitive dissonance is probably kicking in to overdrive complemented by confirmation bias finding this objective reality conflicting with the dominant, loud drumbeat of two diametrically opposed movements with very different political and demographic profiles.

Protesters at both events were deliberate and intentional in their decision to attend.  Neither event was typified by spontaneous, caught up in the moment activism.  It was purposeful.

What’s going on here?  First off, one could posit the media, the spinmeisters, the chattering class and their echo chambers like simple, even if simple is ignorant and nihilistic.

These protesters are more likely to be younger, lower income, have kids at home and be working “essential” jobs requiring them to be in-person during Covid.  Most of them believe in Covid and the risks.

They don’t protest lockdowns because they ignore the risk or don’t believe.  They protest because they live the risk every day, far more than the chattering class.  They are mostly satisfied with their lives but more than political and media elites, they feel the full weight of Covid lockdowns – health, social and economic.

Their support for BLM?  Arguably more straightforward.  They believe police brutality is wrong and worth taking the incremental risk of contracting Covid to be civically engaged.  And the more closely this was personally felt (as measured by # of police shootings in county of residence), the more likely people were to protest.

Not violent.  Rationale actors.  Not Covid deniers.  Not extreme left or right wing.  More representative than the US Congress and much more often than you’d imagine, the same person doing both.


P.S. the source for much of this is the Socioeconomic Impacts of Covid-19 study, conducted by academics at Washington University in St. Louis.  It includes five waves of panel data totaling roughly 25,000 interviews.  Survey data was combined with secondary source data.