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In July, the Trump-era wave of protests started taking a back seat to campaign rallies

- October 19, 2018
President Trump arrives to cheers at the Four Seasons Arena at Montana ExpoPark on July 5 in Great Falls, Mont. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

This is the 18th installment in a monthly series reporting on political crowds in the United States. The Crowd Counting Consortium posts updates about trends and patterns in previous months. For our counting methods, please see our first post in the series. You can find the rest of the posts here.

For 18 months now, as we’ve counted attendance at political gatherings around the United States, we’ve seen crowds in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For the first time since President Trump’s inauguration, we found one state with no political gatherings. In all, in July, we tallied 743 protests, demonstrations, strikes, marches, sit-ins, rallies and walkouts in all states and the District — except South Dakota.

Our conservative guess is that between 71,502 and 73,483 people showed up at these political events, although more probably showed up, as well. This number is the lowest in one month that we’ve seen since December 2017. This year, January, March and June included some of the highest protest numbers in U.S. history, and June featured unusually high attendance because of LGBTQ Pride, Families Belong Together (which protested the policy that separated migrant families at the border), and the Poor People’s Campaign, among others.

Of course, our count is imperfect. For 37.4 percent of July’s events, we found no reported estimate of how many participated. And because mainstream media often neglect to report nonviolent actions — especially small ones — we probably did not record every event that took place. Nevertheless, we think our tally gives us a useful pool of information to better understand political mobilization in the United States — particularly, how crowd reports change from month to month.

1. Rallies and campaign events

With an especially contentious midterm election coming up, many of the larger July crowds had gathered to support candidates for public office.

The largest single event in July was a Trump rally in Tampa, which drew about 10,000 people. Another Trump rally in Great Falls, Mont. on July 5 drew 6,600 participants. Those two Trump events made up 23 percent of the total number of observed participants in July. This appears to be the largest proportion of Trump participants in a month since the inauguration.

But it’s campaign season, and thousands also turned out to support Democratic candidates in cities such as Wichita, Kansas City, Grand Rapids and El Paso.

2. Abolish ICE, Black Lives Matter, and Stop Kavanaugh

June saw hundreds of thousands of people protesting the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their migrant or asylum-seeking parents at the Mexican-U.S. border. Such protests continued in July, with nearly 100 separate events calling to abolish ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and end the family separation policy. Many of these took place at detention centers, including a July 2 action in Hartford, Conn., a July 4 action in Aurora, Colo., and a July 28 protest in Fresno, Calif. Others targeted organizations perceived as supporting or profiting from ICE’s activities, including actions at Microsoft’s New York office and at Palantir’s office in Palo Alto, Calif.

Black Lives Matter and protests against police shootings of unarmed black people also made up a sizable proportion of events, including one that drew large numbers in Chicago on July 16. On July 17, 13 people were arrested after shutting down Interstate 95 outside of Richmond during rush hour in protest against violence toward black women, including black trans women.

Anti-Kavanaugh protests also began in July, as soon as Trump announced Brett M. Kavanaugh as his pick to replace retiring Justice Anthony M. Kennedy on July 9. We counted #StopKavanaugh protests in 33 cities between July 9 and 13 alone.

3. Other notable protests and counterprotests

We counted 157 events — more than 21 percent of the month’s total — associated with the #ConfrontCorruption rallies on July 18. The largest gatherings appeared to be in Times Square in New York and in Washington, although we were unable to obtain crowd counts for most other events.

Protests against gun violence and for gun reform continued in July. At least 15 events took place calling for gun control, including a protest drawing 1,000 people in Roswell, Ga. July also saw many pro-Second Amendment protests and rallies, including more than 20 events associated with the March for Our Rights on July 7.

In Wichita, three people counterprotested at a rally intended to support ICE. Five showed up to support Trump’s immigration policy in Snow Hill, Md.

4. How many people were arrested and/or injured in political crowds?

We counted six reported injuries in July. At about 710 events, 95.6 percent of the total, no arrests were made. This was a slightly lower proportion of arrest-free protests than in June. The number of people arrested declined from 1,096 in June to 352, with at least 306, or 86.9 percent, of those July arrests coming during 24 cases of nonviolent civil disobedience. Continuing from June, over 200 people were arrested in over a dozen cities protesting the family separation policy and calling for ICE to be abolished.

You can download the data here. We’ll release the data for August soon. In the meantime, we are still counting. Click here to submit information about a protest, and click here to volunteer to help us count. 

Jeremy Pressman is an associate professor of political science and director of Middle East Studies at the University of Connecticut. Find him on Twitter @djpressman.