Updated: October 27, 2021 with incidents through January 6, 2021.
The murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by Minneapolis police on May 25, 2020 marked the beginning of a dramatic surge in racial justice and politics accountability protests. The Black Lives Matter movement that was at the heart of those protests did not start with Floyd’s death, but the scope and scale of the protests that followed have been described as among the largest in U.S. history. The well-regarded Pew Research Center estimates that about 6% of the adult population or as many as 15 million U.S. residents, had taken part in BLM-aligned protests by June 10, 2020.  For the period January 2020 through April 2021, the conflict mapping center ACLED, working with the Bridging Divided Initiative at Princeton University, counts at least 11,000 Black Lives Matter and allied actions in upwards of 3,000 locations.
Largely parasitic on the unprecedented wave of racial justice protest, 2020 also witnessed a significant backlash movement that involved armed paramilitaries, pro-police activists, street fighters, and MAGA-hat wearing mobs. Political Research Associates (PRA), in partnership with our colleagues at the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights (IREHR) began tracking these incidents, and mapping their occurrence. The two organizations simultaneously published versions of this map on June 19, 2020. PRA then published an updated version on November 9, 2020, just after the elections.
Behind the numbers—which represent only a small subset of all of the reported but often difficult to verify incidents of armed counter-protest, violence, and intimidation—PRA has continued to monitor and interpret emerging trends. There were, of course, incidents of deadly violence that made a splash in the national news, including the fatal shooting of federal protective service officer Dave Underwood on May 29, 2020 allegedly by an Air Force Sergeant affiliated with the Boogaloo movement. Better known is the August 25, 2020 violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin in which two allies of the Black Lives Matter movement—Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber—were killed by pro-police paramilitary gunfire and a third, Gaige Grosskreutz, was seriously wounded. The alleged shooter was a 17-year old from Antioch, Illinois, some 20 miles away, who had apparently answered a “call to arms” posted on Facebook by a local militia calling itself the Kenosha Guard.
Then President Trump had defended the actions of the alleged Kenosha shooter, suggesting that he acted in self-defense. “You saw the same tape as I saw. And he was trying to get away from them,” Trump said in a press conference on August 31, 2020. “I guess it looks like he fell and then they very violently attacked him. And it was something that we’re looking at right now, and it’s under investigation. But I guess he was in very big trouble. He would have been—probably would have been killed, but it’s under investigation.” Trump neglected to mention that the alleged shooter was armed with a military-style rifle while those who “very violently attacked him” were unarmed.
The run up to the 2020 election was itself fraught. The MAGA movement was primed to expect a stolen election with any result other than a landslide victory for Trump indicating proof positive of massive fraud. Following the election, the #StoptheSteal movement continued to organize, propagating various conspiracy theories. These efforts culminated in the events of January 6, a combination riot and attempted coup, where Trump supporters stormed the Capitol and led to the evacuation of Congress as it met to verify the results of the election. These events continue to have an impact, with Republicans in Congress resisting efforts to investigate what happened in January and nearly a third of voters remaining convinced that President Biden only won the election because of voter fraud.
The map that goes with this article is an update of verified incidents of violence, intimidation, and aggressive counterprotest associated with the 2020 racial justice movement and the 2020 elections and their aftermath. Below are some summary numbers.
Key Findings. Note that an explanation of the various categories can be found in the Map Details section below.
- Total number of incidents tracked: 400
- Actor Type:
- MAGA or Affiliation Unknown/Mob: 54.75% (218)
- Militia: 21% (84)
- Boogaloo: 6.75% (27)
- Racist Reactionary: 6.75% (27)
- White Nationalist: 6.65% (26)
- Confederate: 4.5% (18)
- The largest category (65.75%) is for groups or individuals with no known affiliation to a particular militia or far right group, though they may have MAGA or Trump insignia or be wearing militia-style gear with no visible insignia or other indication of which specific organization.
- About 6.5% of the incidents recorded involved individuals or groups that wore Boogaloo-style clothing or insignia.
- Just under 5.25% of named groups were either III% or Oath Keepers.
- Proud Boys were about 5.5% of the total.
- The remaining 17% of groups were either named local militias such as the California State Militia, New Mexico Civil Guard, or the Texas Freedom Fighters, plus a smattering of named white nationalist and neo-confederate groups.
- Activism Type:
- Attending Claiming to Support: 4.0%
- Election Related: 19%
- Harassment/Counterprotest: 56.5%
- Law Enforcement Complicity: 2.75%
- Vehicular Assault: 2%
- Violence or Threat of Violence: 15.75%
Actor Types are grouped into six categories:
- MAGA or Affiliation Unknown/Mob, the largest category, refers to groups, individuals, or mobs that show up to counterprotest in racial justice space and/or to intimidate or harass voters. Individuals may have more specific affiliations, but there is not sufficient evidence to identify them more precisely. The most common indicators are red MAGA hats, Trump 2020 signs, and aggressive heckling of those they oppose, sometimes with racist, misogynist, or anti-LGBTQ slurs. As Election Day draws near, it can be increasingly difficult to tell MAGA-oriented groups from pro-Trump paramilitaries, as the former are often armed. A common tactic since the end of Summer 2020 has been caravans of Trump supports rolling through cities and towns with flags and Trump campaign materials, leading at times to confrontations with progressives.
- The militia category includes all regime-loyal, Trump-supporting armed groups with some kind of recognizable identity, linked to a name and various insignia. The two largest groups are the III% (Three Percepters) and the Oath Keepers, both of which have national membership, and focus on recruiting members with military and law enforcement experience. There are, however, dozens—perhaps hundreds—of local and state-level militias that may exist mostly as social media pages, but be mobilized in response to racial justice events. For a more detailed look at militia and paramilitary types see Paramilitaries at Your Protest: An Activist Field Guide to the Armed Far-Right.
- The Boogaloo, or Boogaloo Bois, is a very loose network of actors that originated online, but who have begun to show up at in-person protest actions in recent months. They are often recognizable by wearing tactical military-style gear and Hawaiian shirts. The “Boogaloo” is a code word for a new civil war, which they tend to see as inevitable, if not desirable. They have shown up in a variety of ways, including claiming support for police accountability and violence/threat.
- Proud Boys, who define themselves as “Western chauvinists” and consistently express misogynist views, claim to defend U.S. institutions from leftists and outside influences. In practice, they are best known for their street brawls with anti-fascists, anarchists, anti-racists, and others. They have shown up mostly in the counterprotest/harassment category.
- White nationalists include neonazis, ku klux klan, and other explicitly racist organizations that tend to be a small minority showing up at events organized and attended by MAGA or militia organizations. They can also show up as individuals and perpetrate violent acts such as the massacres at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston (2015) and the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh (2018). It was also a white nationalist for the vehicular assault that resulted in the death of activist Heather Heyer at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville (2017).
- Confederate (neo-confederate) are identified by confederate battle flags and by membership in organizations oriented to preserving the heritage of the Old South, and particularly defending Confederate monuments. They appear in numbers mostly in the South.
Activism Types are also grouped into six categories:
- Harassment/counterprotest is the largest category, with 106 instances, and includes a variety of activities including verbal harassment, intimidation, those claiming to be there to protect property, prevent looting, or defend the First Amendment or engaged in the doxxing of protestors.
- Violence/threat, which includes only actual or attempted violence in or around the protest space or direct menacing, such as pointing a gun or other weapon at someone.
- Attended protest claiming support, includes mostly members of the Boogaloo faction, and only when they have shown through words, spoken or written, or through their actions, that they intend their presence to be in support of racial justice and police accountability, for example by carrying signs that say Black Lives Matter or Justice for George Floyd.
- Law enforcement complicity is a small category in the data with large implications and refers to law enforcement officials who indicate alignment with paramilitary or far-right groups, for example by wearing a III% insignia.
- Vehicular assault, referring to the use of cars and trucks to attack protestors or voters.
- Election Related incidents refer to efforts to harass or intimate voters either at or near polling locations or otherwise undermine the voting process.
Please find below a list of resources for understanding the far right in the context of the 2020 elections and beyond.
 Larry Buchanan, Quoting Bul, and Jugal K. Patel, “Black Lives Matter May Be the Largest Movement Movement in U.S. History,” New York Times (Jul 3, 2020), https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/07/03/us/george-floyd-protests-crowd-size.html.
 Kim Parker, “Amid Protests, Majorities across Racial and Ethnic Groups Express Support for the Black Lives Matter Movement,” Pew Research Center (Jun 12, 2020), https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2020/06/12/amid-protests-majorities-across-racial-and-ethnic-groups-express-support-for-the-black-lives-matter-movement/.
 Roudabeh Kishi, Hampton Stall, Aaron Wolfson, and Sam Jones, A Year of Racial Justice Protests: Key Trends in Demonstrations Supporting the BLM Movement, Armed Conflict & Event Data Project (ACLED), May 2021, p.3, https://acleddata.com/acleddatanew/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/ACLED_Report_A-Year-of-Racial-Justice-Protests_May2021.pdf. Note that Political Research Associates contributed to ACLED incident tracking from November 1, 2020 - May 14, 2021.