Mapping the protests across America

4 mins read

Mapping the protests across America

Preview(opens in a new tab)

Protests sweep the nation, but it’s hard to fully appreciate the hunger for change. Where are protests occurring? What are their demands? How many people protested? How can the protestors be followed up with? This blog features a map of over 6,700 protests that took place in 2020 and different ways to collect information to engage with protestors afterwards.

Count Love provides a database of over 20,000 protests and 12 millions protestors. Tommy Leung and Nathan Perkins, engineers with a keen interest in civic responsibility and public policy started the project in January, 2017. “Protests and demonstrations represent one way to communicate to our elected leaders. Yet, it’s easy to lose track of exactly where and when protests took place and how many people participated. Additionally, searching through and visualizing individual records can be quite a daunting task. We hope that keeping a factual record of ongoing demonstrations and making this data more accessible helps citizens, journalists, and politicians make more compelling cases for a diverse, empathetic, and kind country.“

How to use the map
This map has ten layers representing different types of protests. You can select one or more types to show on the map and zoom in for more details. Each event includes the date, location the number of protestors along with a link to the news article describing it. Many locations such as Denver (shown above) have had many protests at the same location. Clicking forward to see them individually.

Map design
This map was created in a day with mostly free software. Here’s how we did it and the mostly free apps we used.
1. Count Love provides a database of protests along with the date, location, nature of the protest and the number of attendees. We found the precise location (latitude/longitude) of each protest with the free app.
2. We used ArcGIS Dashboard to create the map. A special thanks to Jennifer Bell and Julia Bayer at esri for their help with the map.
3. The cover image by Cooper Baumgartner is from Unsplash, a wonderful resource for high quality, royalty-free images.
4. We created the image of the map overlaid with the photo protestors using Canva, a free photo editing app.
5. The GIF of the map in use was created with ezGIF, a free app.

Collecting details from protestors to follow-up with them
DemLabs partners with progressive groups collecting details on protestors to mobilize them to vote. Three approaches being used for this:
1. GeoFencing: Identifying phone IDs of protestors in a chosen area at a given time. Mobile ads are then targeted to these Mobile Advertising Ad IDs (MAIDs). You can even find out who attended a protest that has already taken place. Details.
2. Chatbots: Encouraging protestors to scan QR Codes on signs at the protests. This directs protestors to a chatbot that automatically collects details including opt-in cell phone numbers from them. Details.
3. Petitions: Promote a petition related to the protest on social media and through QR Codes at the protest. This lets protestors sign a petition with two links and lets organizers collect their email addresses. Details.

Take aways
Make it easy for people to make sense of piles of data with simple, interactive visualizations.
Collect details from protestors in order to follow-up with them. It’s a good bet that they are ready for change, if they’re out there protesting.


DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.

Democracy Labs is a hub for ongoing technology and creative innovation that serves progressive campaigns and organizations at the national, state, and local levels.

Our focus is on long term, sustainable and affordable solutions. An approach that is longer than an election cycle, and isn’t purely dependant on volunteers, can enable more qualified candidates to run for office and for more issue groups to bring about positive social change.

Democracy Labs is a project of the Tides Advocacy Fund.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous Story

Today’s Local Actions (Thurs. 7/2) The “If it looks like a duck” Edition

Next Story

The News You Don't Hear - The Field Team 6 Weekly

Latest from Explainer

%d bloggers like this: