The smear of calling BLM protests 'violent' doesn't even come close to matching the reality
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

I wrote an article a few weeks ago about the tragic murder of a 5-year-old boy, Cannon Hinnant, and how it was being politicized to attack the Black Lives Matter movement. In one of many angry messages I received, a reader wrote "When is the last time you saw a BLM protest that wasn't violent?"

I was stunned. Was this person serious?

From what I had seen, the vast majority of BLM protests were peaceful. But of course I had no actual data to back that up—until now.

The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) is a non-governmental non-profit organization that has been tracking incidents of conflict around the world since at least 2014. Since May, they have tracked the more than 10,000 protests that have taken place in the U.S., 73% of which specifically cite Black Lives Matter as part of the basis for the protest.

In the more than 7,750 BLM protests that have taken place from May through the end of August, 93% included no acts of violence. More than 9 out of 10 protests, totally peaceful.


But that doesn't even tell the whole story, because not all of the violence that has broken out at protests has even come from BLM protestors. Naturally, some rioting we've seen is a result of anger over injustice being channeled into destruction of property or lashing out violently. But some violence at BLM protests has come from outside the BLM movement entirely.

For example, one of the instigators of riots during the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis following his killing was found to be a white supremacist. Law enforcement also determined that white supremacists were also responsible for the violence at BLM protests in Richmond, Virginia in June.

In fact there are a handful of extremist groups from both the far-right and far-left who have taken advantage of the protests to either frame the BLM movement as violent or to stoke their own fantasies of violent unrest. I'd never heard of the Boogaloo movement until the BLM protests began and some Boogaloo Bois saw it as a great opportunity to get the civil war they've been itching for to begin.

And then there's the violence coming from law enforcement. According to the ACLED, BLM demonstrations have been more likely to be met with force than other types of demonstrations, despite being largely peaceful:

"Overall, ACLED data indicate that government forces soon took a heavy-handed approach to the growing protest movement. In demonstrations where authorities are present, they use force more often than not. Data show that they have disproportionately used force while intervening in demonstrations associated with the BLM movement, relative to other types of demonstrations.

Despite the fact that demonstrations associated with the BLM movement have been overwhelmingly peaceful, more than 9% — or nearly one in 10 — have been met with government intervention, compared to 3% of all other demonstrations. This also marks a general increase in intervention rates relative to this time last year. In July 2019, authorities intervened in under 2% of all demonstrations — fewer than 30 events — relative to July 2020, when they intervened in 9% of all demonstrations — or over 170 events."

It's also important to note that the 7% of protests that have involved violence haven't all involved burning down buildings or killing people. There are varying manifestations of violence, and while we would all hope that protests would remain peaceful, it's unsurprising that a small percentage will end up with some conflict. We are talking about human beings, after all. As a species, we have a long and bloody history of violence that we haven't exactly evolved out of yet.

Regardless, the notion that the Black Lives Matter movement is inherently violent is false. The notion that BLM protests have been largely violent is false. That doesn't mean we should just ignore violence altogether, but there are people who benefit greatly from pushing the idea that BLM is violent, and we have to challenge that. Don't let some media outlets' hyperfocus on headline-grabbing riots—or the sensationalist human tendency to share and talk about those stories—push you away from the movement for racial justice. Peaceful, powerful protests abound—that's where we should place our focus.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Cipolla's graph with the benefits and losses that an individual causes to him or herself and causes to others.

Have you ever known someone who was educated, well-spoken, and curious, but had a real knack for making terrible decisions and bringing others down with them? These people are perplexing because we're trained to see them as intelligent, but their lives are a total mess.

On the other hand, have you ever met someone who may not have a formal education or be the best with words, but they live wisely and their actions uplift themselves and others?

In 1976, Italian economist Carlo Cipolla wrote a tongue-and-cheek essay called "The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity" that provides a great framework for judging someone's real intelligence. Now, the term stupid isn't the most artful way of describing someone who lives unwisely, but in his essay Cipolla uses it in a lighthearted way.

Cipolla explains his theory of intelligence through five basic laws and a matrix that he belives applies to everyone.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."