USA protests by the numbers

It’s not the same as front page news, but I like the fact that your action is part of the collective force for change, more than simply a picture on Facebook.


by Wade Rathke

New Orleans    The New York Times print edition featured a two-page spread overlaying the map of the United States in a special Black Lives Matter section. Across the map were the names of the 2000 cities and towns where there had been protests in a recent two-week period against racism and police brutality. This was a powerful expression of this surge of Americans confronting this persistent disease in our country and demanding change. Wow!

As impressive as the mapwork was, I was more intrigued about who or what was doing the counting. The small print said, Count Love. Ok, I’m game. Let’s look under the hood.

Count Love turns out to be a website protest tracker working only in the US. The creators are clear about their motivation: relief from the election. They are more measured, saying…

We are Tommy Leung and Nathan Perkins, engineers and scientists with a keen interest in civic responsibility and public policy. We started Count Love in catharsis to 2016, and we continue active development during our free time. We met during overlapping stints at MIT while working on our Masters in Technology and Policy.

Good for them. And, for all of us. Whenever you might feel we are somehow sucking all of the oppression down, you can click on the statistic link and bam, find that …

Since January 20th, 2017, we’ve learned about 19,326 protests with over 12,533,319 attendees—individuals demonstrating for inclusion, human rights and the environment.

Our fellow traveling brothers, Tommy and Nathan, don’t gild the lily on the numbers as the president is want to do. Their rules for counting the love are pretty rigorous. They use a crawl algorithm to scour newspapers and television news. They don’t count fluff. They round down on generalities: about a dozen, they record as 10, dozens they record as 20, hundreds they list only as 100. The rookie organizer’s attempt to count children as part of the crowd can’t make it past these guys.

Not only are they conservative in the counting house, but they also leave the windows wide open so that anyone can see what they are doing. They encourage people to use their numbers. They link you to explanations more MIT than me and you, but that’s OK, too. Although transparent, some of their site is clunky. Open the home page and you find yourself looking at a random district in some state like Washington or California. I’m not sure why that is, but it’s offset by some good overall graphic representations and categorization of protests that not only include civil rights and the environment, but also collective bargaining, i.e. union work, and legislative protests.

They are missing community actions, but that can be fixed. Maybe the best thing about their effort here is that they also have an anonymous way that you can submit your own protest to the mix and have it become a part of the data. I like that. It’s not the same as front page news, but I like the fact that your action is part of the collective force for change, more than simply a picture on Facebook.

Good work, guys! Sending some love over to the Count Love crew!


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