2017 Report on the Black Lives Matter movement

In 2017, at least 429 Black Lives Matter demonstrations were held worldwide, according to Elephrame's record of such demonstrations.


Demonstrations were held in at least 168 locations from small cities like Centerville, Ohio to large ones like Chicago and cities abroad like Berlin.  The locations who hosted the most number of demonstrations were New York (41), St. Louis (34) and Philadelphia (20).  While no single person, event or other subject accounts for the number of demonstrations in Philadelphia, weekly "People's Monday" demonstrations by the organization NYC Shut It Down account for most of the actions in New York and the acquittal of officer Jason Stockley in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith accounts for most in St. Louis.


Demonstrations were centered around at least 207 subjects.  The majority of demonstrations focused on General Issues of racism and police brutality.  The next most common subjects were the National Anthem, General Local Issues of racism and police brutality, Donald Trump and Anthony Lamar Smith.  Smith was a 24-year-old Black man killed by White St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley in 2011.  Stockley was acquitted on September 15, 2017, prompting weeks of protest in and around St. Louis.


Thousands of people attended Black Lives Matter demonstrations in 2017.  Of demonstrations whose attendance is known or estimated by Elephrame, the majority (72 percent) were attended by less than 100 people.  26 percent of demonstrations in 2017 were attended by between 100 and 999 people and 3 percent were attended by 1000 or more people.*  The prominence of small demonstrations coupled with the dominance of “General Local Issues” as a subject of demonstrations in 2017 reflects the prevalence of community-based activism in the Black Lives Matter movement.  While national demonstrations have decreased since the movement emerged in 2014, local demonstrations have persisted as activists and ordinary citizens have interrupted city council meetings, held student walkouts or otherwise demonstrated in ways meaningful to their particular community.


As always, activists used a variety of methods to demonstrate in 2017.  Traditional rallies were the most popular method and traditional marches were the third most popular.  The second most popular method was national anthem demonstrations, a method that, while virtually nonexistent during the first two years of the movement, has become a staple of Black Lives Matter demonstrations since late 2016, after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat during the national anthem prior to his team's first preseason game.  Since Kaepernick's first demonstrations, student athletes, city council members have also employed the method to express their opposition to anti-Blackness, police brutality and related problems.  In the articles cited by Elephrame, the silent, peaceful and unobtrusive nature of the protest has been cited by many anthem demonstration participants as the reason behind their preference for this method.


Numerous organizations and individuals organized Black Lives Matter demonstrations in 2017.  Of the organizations that Elephrame recorded as putting together demonstrations in 2017, NYC Shut It Down: The Grand Central Crew has organized the most.  Out of the 56 total actions the organization held in 2017, Elephrame recorded 32 of them as Black Lives Matter demonstrations.  Out of these 32 actions, 31 of them were part of the NYC Shut It Down's "People's Monday" protests which the organization has held every Monday since the first Monday of 2015.  The NYC Shut It Down's actions that were not included in Elephrame's record did not meet the criteria for inclusion on Elephrame’s record of Black Lives Matter demonstrations either because the demonstration was not centered on a Black person or because the action was not a demonstration.

*Due to rounding, percentages do not total to 100.

UPDATE: The number of locations that hosted demonstrations was previously and inaccurately listed as 429.  It has been updated to reflect the accurate number: 168.
Last modified on Tuesday • 2 January 2018 • 9:01 AM CST