BLM Protests and Racial Hate Crime in the United States

Brown Bag Seminar
Person walking on the street with a cardboard sign with the text 'I can't breathe'

Yoel Carr

Thursday 2 Feb 2023, 12:00 - 13:00
Kitchen/Lounge E1
E Building
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Person walking on the street with a cardboard sign with the text 'I can't breathe'

We provide evidence of the impact of protests following the death of George Floyd on anti-Black and anti-White hate crimes in the US. Using program evaluation methods we find that recorded anti-Black (-White) hate crime increased by up to 15 (4) incidents per day or 259 (165) percent in June 2020.

To account for changes in incentives to commit hate crimes during the coronavirus pandemic we control for other hate crime biases. We find that changes in unemployment due to the pandemic is a significant mediating factor in the hate crime shock against both groups and a larger shock in the first weeks of the protests in counties with a first BLM protest after Floyd's death or high Parler activity.

March of protesters on a bridge in the US for the 'Black Lives Matter' movement
BLM protest in the US

In addition, we test for mechanisms driving the changes, including retaliation, protectionism, and changes in victim reporting utilizing cable news headlines, tweets, and protest data.

Anti-Black hate crime is more sensitive to the saliency of opposition to protests, 'White genocide', and Derek Chauvin measured by tweets but less sensitive to cable news reporting.

Proliferation of the 2020 BLM

Results suggest that the proliferation of the 2020 BLM protests rather than number of protesters drove the increase in hate crime. Using crime victimization survey we find that White hate crime victims were more likely to report victimization during the protests and evidence that police reduced effort toward Black hate crime victims and increased arrests of anti-White hate crime offenders.

The results suggest that large scale protests or conflict between two groups during periods of increase in unemployment can lead to a substantial increase in expressed xenophobia.


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