Issue Brief: Trends in Demonstrations at Homes, May-December 2020

Key Trends:

● At least 360 demonstrations at homes occurred persistently throughout the past 8 months (May - December 2020), with threatening behavior by various actors recorded at low levels since May.

● The period immediately post-Election Day has seen an increase in both the number of protests outside homes and recorded presence of armed and unlawful paramilitary actors. These actions are particularly if paired with online threats and/or spreads to targeting of local officials.

● For the full period of data, more demonstrations at homes have focused on city- and county-level officials’ private homes, involved repeat visits, and were used as a repeat tactic by specific groups.

I. Introduction

In contrast to demonstrations in public spaces, protests around or outside of individual homes carry additional symbolic meaning, potential implicit threat, and, in some cases, legal restrictions. While threats and incitement to violence are not protected by the First Amendment, the line between protected peaceful protest at a home and unprotected threatening activity is by nature thinner, making it essential to frame any analysis in more specific details of intention and tactics.

To examine the specifics of these current trends, Princeton Bridging Divides Initiative (BDI) drew on publicly available data compiled by the US Crisis Monitor as well as other open source reporting to provide specific descriptive and actionable insight on self-styled demonstrations that occurred outside of homes, as well as related threats or violence.

For the full Issue Brief, download the PDF here.