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US police three times as likely to use force against leftwing protesters, data finds

Police in the United States are three timesmore likely to use force against leftwing protesters than rightwing protesters, according to new data from a non-profit that monitors political violence around the world.

In the past 10 months, US law enforcement agencies have used teargas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and beatings at a much higher percentage at Black Lives Matter demonstrations than at pro-Trump or other rightwing protests.

Law enforcement officers were also more likely to use force against leftwing demonstrators, whether the protests remained peaceful or not.

The statistics, based on law enforcement responses to more than 13,000 protests across the United States since April 2020, show a clear disparity in how agencies have responded to the historic wave of Black Lives Matter protests against police violence, compared with demonstrations organized by Trump supporters.

Barack Obama highlighted an earlier version of these statistics on 8 January, arguing that they provided a “useful frame of reference” for understanding Americans’ outrage over the failure of Capitol police to stop a mob of thousands of white Trump supporters from invading and looting the Capitol on 6 January, a response that prompted renewed scrutiny of the level of violence and aggression American police forces use against Black versus white Americans.

The new statistics come from the US Crisis Monitor, a database created this spring by researchers at Princeton and the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project (ACLED), a nonprofit that has previously monitored civil unrest in the Middle East, Europe and Latin America.

The researchers found that the vast majority of the thousands of protests across the United States in the past year have been peaceful, and that most protests by both the left and the right were not met with any violent response by law enforcement.

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