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Will US forces shoot unarmed protesters in 2020?


1970 saw several instances of US National Guard and law enforcement officers shooting unarmed protesters, such as the Kent State Shootings and the Jackson State Killings.

In 2020, will we see a similar situation where law enforcement use live ammunition to intentionally shoot unarmed protesters?

For the purposes of this question:

  1. "Unarmed" is defined as "not carrying a weapon that requires a license in the US". Notably, protesters who throw rocks, water bottles, or other debris at law enforcement, or who start fires, are considered "unarmed". Protesters who use vehicles which require a license to operate as weapons will be considered "armed" (e.g. if a protester intentionally drives their car into a crowd). If protesters use weapons which do not fit into the above described categories, they are considered "armed" only if moderators consider using live ammunition to be a proportionate response. (E.g. if a protester attacked law enforcement with a machete, live ammunition may be a proportionate response, but not if they attack with pepper spray.)
  2. If law enforcement is firing upon armed protesters, and unarmed protesters are caught in the crossfire, that would not satisfy this question.
  3. Law enforcement must use live ammunition for the purpose of this question. If a protester is killed using "less than lethal" ammunition (e.g. rubber bullets), that would not satisfy.
  4. Law enforcement must intentionally fire at protesters. Accidental discharge or a "warning shot" which does not injure anyone do not satisfy this question.
  5. If facts are disputed, the standard of evidence shall be one which would consider the Kent and Jackson State killings to satisfy this question. (E.g. if there are credible investigations which conclude that the protesters were unarmed, then that event would satisfy this question, even if other reports claim that protesters were armed, and the standard of evidence is not strong enough to press legal charges). Moderators will determine whether an investigation is "credible".
  6. A protestor is a person who is participating in an organized public demonstration of disapproval. If someone is killed as collateral damage (e.g. they happen to be near other protesters when shot, even though they were not protesting themselves), that will satisfy this question. If someone is credibly found to have been pursued by law enforcement for reasons unrelated to the public expression of disapproval, that will not satisfy this question, even if they are near a protest. If someone is demonstrating disapproval through illegal actions (e.g. looting) that will satisfy this question, provided they are not armed or any of the other above clauses apply.

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