George Floyd Protest

The Impact of the George Floyd protests on police behavior

The murder of George Floyd in May 2020 sparked a wave of Black Lives Matter protests in many cities throughout the United States. Protests demanded constraints against the police and policing. These have led some to worry about the possibility of a “Ferguson Effect,” where police withdraw from policing, and in particular discretionary stops and searches, with deleterious consequences for crime. Using data from Seattle, we evaluate whether the 2020 BLM protests impacted police behavior, and whether changes in policing negatively impacted public safety outcomes. Regression discontinuity-intime estimates suggest that although depolicing followed the BLM protests, there was no improvement in policing quality, and crime was not impacted. Our findings have important implications for fields of research in policing, social movements, and racial and ethnic politics.

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