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Patterns of Local Protest against COVID-19 Restrictions across America

In collaboration with Stanford University’s Bill Lane Center for the American West & Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

October 2020
Executive Summary

As restrictions, closures, and lockdowns ramped up last Spring, some Americans famously took to the streets to protest what they believed was government overreach. The risk of COVID-19 transmission as the weather cools makes the resurgence of such policies seem more likely. Will a second wave of these policies spark further civil unrest? This question, in turn, raises another: just how prevalent were protests in the spring of 2020?

To provide a data-driven answer, CivicPulse conducted a national survey of over 350 top law enforcement officials in June of 2020, representing agencies in municipal, township, and county governments across the country. Our survey yielded three main insights: 

  1. 12 percent of law enforcement agencies nationwide reported protests against COVID-19 restrictions in the spring of 2020. 

  2. Protests were about equally prevalent across both Democrat– and Republican–leaning communities. 

  3. Protests were more than three times as likely in Western states than in states in other regions.

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