The Bridging Divides Initiative (BDI) is a non-partisan research initiative that tracks and mitigates political violence in the United States.
BDI exists to give people, at every level, current information about what is happening in their community and to share resources so it is easy for people to engage locally. We work to make sure people can fully participate in their democracy. Everyone should feel safe and secure in exercising their constitutional rights, both when voting and when demonstrating their concerns.
Our goal is to build a foundation of trust and cooperation in communities, so we can bridge the divides we face as a nation.
US Crisis Monitor
US Crisis Monitor is a joint project of the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) and BDI that aims to provide the public with real-time data and analysis on demonstrations and political violence across the United States.
Bridging Divides Map
The Bridging Divides Map is a resource for community building organizations and individual leaders to increase their network, coordinate, collaborate and focus resources to areas of highest impact. It includes over 3,000 organizations working tirelessly to build community from the local to national level.
BDI In The News
Headed into the 2020 Election, BDI engaged with stakeholders at the national, state, and local level. We worked with groups across the political spectrum, including media, to track and prevent political violence. Our work has been noted in a wide variety of publications, including:
- USA Today Network: Wisconsin Nice -- Hollow Calls for Unity Do Not Work
- CNN.com: Data Can Help Us Move Forward
- The Atlantic: Coexistence Is the Only Answer
- Non-Profit Quarterly: A Tale of Two Systems - Black Lives Matter and Proud Boys
- Mountain West News Bureau: Police More Likely to Target 'Left-Wing Protestors"
- ACLED recorded over 953 incidents involving armed groups, unlawful paramilitary groups, or armed individuals at demonstrations from January 1, 2020 to June 4, 2021. Just under half (416) of recorded armed actors were unidentified or unaffiliated with an organized or named paramilitary group.
- Among these unaffiliated armed actors, the overwhelming majority of counter-protest groups or individuals targeted BLM demonstrations — 94% of all recorded armed counter-protests were in opposition to BLM, defund the police, or anti-confederate monument protests.
- Excluding named militia actors, armed demonstrators mobilized for mixed, political causes including around COVID-19, Stop the Steal, and longer term 2nd Amendment related triggers, as well as Black Lives Matter and defund the police.
- 14% (57 of 416) of all unaffiliated armed demonstrations involved shots fired, with just under half (27 of 57) carried out by actors that were not originally involved with the demonstration or an explicit counter-protest.
- Disinformation and misinformation sparked a significant portion of armed mobilization — including rumors of “antifa buses” and false narratives of a stolen election, with these incidents occurring in at least 13 of 50 states.
The post-election to inauguration period—the 11 weeks from Wednesday November 4, 2020 to Wednesday January 20, 2021—is a unique period of the US electoral calendar. Data on political mobilization and violence from this period tell us something both about what we might expect in the post-election period of future elections, and also offer a first glimpse of what we might see in terms of more immediate political violence in post-Trump America.
The purpose of this document is to help state and local officials anticipate the risks they face and respond. These resources help local leaders take four actions to mitigate violence (1) analyze risk; (2) understand state-specific laws and options for enforcing them; (3) build stakeholder engagement for high risk events; and (4) communicate insights and guidance.