In the beginning of President Donald Trump's term, the protests against him were heavily covered in the media, with big nationwide events like the Women's March and the Tax March getting top billing in the news cycle.
But big protests of this sort didn't go away. They are still happening in plain sight, and the media has just not paid them as much attention — as a new Washington Post analysis of one of the most recent events reveals.
"Two weeks ago, 'Lights for Liberty' protests were held throughout the country," reported the Post. "Their purpose, according to the protest organizers' main website, was 'to protest the inhumane conditions faced by migrants' detained by the United States at the southern border. These protests received limited national media attention, certainly less than the Women's March. But a careful look at the data shows these protests may be more significant than one might assume."
As the Post noted, there were 696 Lights for Liberty vigils around the country on July 12 in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., with attendance estimated between 105,000 and 121,000 and often backed by local religious leaders. While this is significantly less than the Women's March was, the Post notes, "garnering over 100,000 participants on relatively short notice in over 600 cities and towns is still a notable achievement."
Even more interesting than how many people attended these vigils was where they were. While 38 to 41 percent of the Women's March protesters were in the 10 most populous cities, just 21 percent of the Lights for Liberty protesters were — and many of the demonstrations occurred in areas that Trump won. This is in part because many of the vigils were held near migrant detention centers and ports of entry, allowing protesters to draw attention to where the suffering is occurring and pressure the politicians representing those places — but it is notable how many turned out, given protesting in such places could draw counterprotesters or retaliation.
Indeed, some politicians even spoke at these events, including Steve Woodsmall, who is challenging Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and gave a fiery condemnation of Trump's policies at the vigil in Asheville:
Did you miss Steve’s speech at the Lights for Liberty event in Asheville? You can watch the full remarks here: https://t.co/c7OY5MneT4— Dr. Steve Woodsmall, USAF-Retired (@Dr. Steve Woodsmall, USAF-Retired) 1564097892.0
"Now the question is whether organizations translate their activism into concrete action — such as voter registration and mobilization — leading into 2020," concluded the Post.