The Prosecution Project (tPP) is a long-term, Open-Source Intelligence research platform tracking and providing an analysis of felony criminal cases involving illegal political violence occurring in the United States since 1990.
Through identification, analysis, and assessment of thousands of cases, tPP seeks to identify correlations between who a defendant is, how they are charged and prosecuted, and other related factors, such as political ideology, religion, and the crime’s motive, means, target, and impact. The project explores defendant demographics, prosecutorial strategy and outcome, juridical rhetoric, and relevant laws dealing with hate crimes, civil rights violations, designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, and material support, as well as assigned terrorism enhancements and the use of specialized motive-centric statutes.
Every case included in the tPP dataset is validated through a decision tree. The dataset aims to be inclusive of all cases involving felony crimes with social-political motivation, as stated by the perpetrator, or labeled by official state bodies such as, but not limited to, law enforcement or federal government.
Each case is coded for 50 variables, associated with a set of primary sources, and triangulated via several secondary sources by an independent coding team. After the first round of dual coding, the case is checked by a senior member of the project team, and finally, validated by one of the tPP Auditors. The data generated is suitable for a patterned statistical analysis and the development of complex models to understand patterns, trends, and outliers. To learn more about tPP’s process and the information included in the dataset, please visit our “tPP Includes…” page.
tPP records a comprehensive account of modern political violence prosecutions through confirmed, verified, triangulated, and transparently-documented cases. The goal of tPP is to generate meaningful findings for scholars and policy makers, to create and publish a previously nonexistent database for public use, and to allow students to engage in research and acquire skills that are required for carrying out a long-term team project. The project is led by an Executive Director and Deputy Director, coordinated by a Leadership Team and its Directors, and informed by a National Advisory Board of noted scholars and researchers.
In the future, tPP aims to make all of its data available online, for free in an accessible format. We are currently exploring how to best design this system, but if you would like to inquire about accessing our data or reports, please get in touch.
Latest update: August 29, 2020
Original post: July 1, 2020
Over the last several months tPP has fielded many requests to help provide a count of felony cases related to the protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 by Minneapolis police. The protests, riots, and sporadic uprisings that resulted from the killing have resulted in over 10,000 arrests nationwide. The FBI later expanded that number to more than 13,600 as of June 6, 2020. We have spoken with journalists, academic researchers, attorneys, community and prisoner support organizations, and many others.
tPP is focused on tracking felony cases of socio-political crime and violence, so many of these arrests likely fall within our project’s inclusion criteria. tPP tracks all types of ideological motives to study political violence. In this case, while the majority of cases are of demonstrators, some represent violence directed at demonstrators, or seemingly unrelated crimes described by State authorities (e.g., the DOJ, ATF) as ‘protest-related.’ Some of these cases will likely be excluded from our data set, but while they develop, we will continue to follow them. For example, we are including several federal cases where defendants are charged with only misdemeanors. Although this will disqualify them for later inclusion in the tPP dataset, we are including them to currently to assist those trying to track federal prosecutions.
Some have asked, ‘Why does the data set contain far-right crimes mixed in with those from demonstrators?’ Simply put, we seek to track all manners of political violence, regardless of ideology. Cases are eventually measured and coded on the basis of a defendants’ motive, ideology, etc., but in establishing these cases for preliminary tracking, we are simply asserting that the crimes have:
- a.) a socio-political motive, and/or,
- b.) the federal government has labeled the crime ‘protest-related,’ ‘related to the civil disturbance,’ ‘riot cases, (see below)’ or through the use of other language which links the crime to the protests.
Many of these cases were sourced from a series of releases provided by the DOJ and made available to tPP. Cases which qualify for inclusion will be evaluated by coding teams and completed for 50 variables, but in the mean time, we are sharing a partial data table of the federal arrests we are tracking.
(listing updated 08/29/20 @ 10:45pm EST)
Note: Some cases remain sealed and as a consequence, some early coding may change when complaints and court dockets are reviewed.
We will continue to update this list as information becomes available. This data is incomplete but provided for others to build upon.
This information is free to use but please credit the Prosecution Project | tPP Twitter. If you have further questions about the data, or would like more information on the cases, their inclusion criteria, etc., get in touch.
tPP in the News
13 July 2020: “The Federal Government’s Aggressive Prosecution of Protestors” [Lawfare]
13 July 2020: “White Supremacist Prosecutions Roundup” [Lawfare]
7 July 2020: “They Came to Support People Getting Out of Jail. Then They Were Attacked By Police.” [In These Times]
16 January 2020: “Prosecution Project examines how sociopolitical crimes are prosecuted” [Miami University News & Events: Top Stories]
31 December 2019: “Republican Death Threats Are Undermining Our Democracy.” [The Philadelphia Inquirer]
14 November 2019: “The Prosecution Project aided by Research Computing Support group” [Miami University News from the Office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship]
30 May 2019: “AOC says she gets death threats after organizations air ‘hateful messages’ about her” [USA Today]
26 March 2019: “Prosecutions for death threats against US politicians spiked last year” [Quartz]
16 November 2018: “As hate crimes rise across the U.S., a Miami team researches political motivations and prosecution” [Miami University News and Communications]
When a Defendant is Charged at both the Federal Level & State Level Izzy Bielamowicz Although it is not a common occurrence in practice, there are a handful of cases within tPP’s dataset which fall under the jurisdiction of both the federal government and the state government. In these cases, a defendant has been charged […]
Coding the Ruby Ridge Incident Caitlin Marsengill During the Spring 2020 coding term, my coding partner Maddie Weaver and I decided to clean some of the unclaimed cases out of the team spreadsheet. We ended up picking out a bunch of older cases, primarily from the 1990’s and early 2000’s. At first, I was apprehensive, […]
An Update on Updating Cases: The Success of the tPP Updates Calendar Sara Godfrey During the Spring 2020 term, two students and I began tackling tPP’s backlog of over 650 cases waiting for updates. To do this in an organized and systematic fashion, a team calendar was created to track sentencing dates. Over the summer, […]
Redeeming Redemption: What Cost? Megan Roques (@meganroques) The purpose of terrorism research is to understand the roots of terrorism, how to suppress these acts or minimize their impact in a large-scale. Thanks to the work of many individuals in the realm of academia, we have made great progress in the field. However, one source of […]