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, the information included in the dataset, and how many cases are in the tPP universe, 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.
tPP Book Available for Pre-Order!
This volume uses a mixed methods approach to unpack the multidimensional realities of political violence and how these crimes are dealt with in the U.S. judicial system.
The work seeks to challenge the often-noted problems with mainstream terrorism research, namely an overreliance on secondary sources, a scarcity of statistical analyses, and a tendency for authors to not work collaboratively. This volume inverts these challenges, situating itself within primary-source materials, which are empirically studied through collaborative, inter-generational (statistical) analysis. Through a focused exploration of how these crimes are influenced by gender, ethnicity, ideology, tactical choice, geography, and citizenship, the chapters offered here represent scholarship from a pool of more than sixty authors. Utilizing a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods, including regression and other forms of statistical analysis, Grounded Theory, Qualitative Comparative Analysis, Corpus Linguistics, and Discourse Analysis, the researchers in this book explore not only the subject of political violence and the law, but also the craft of research. In bringing together these emerging voices, this volume seeks to challenge expertism, while privileging the empirical.
This book will be of much interest to students of terrorism and political violence, criminology, and U.S. politics.
Prosecution Data: Capitol Siege of January 6, 2021
Updated: April 28, 2021
On January 6, 2021, the United States Capitol building was breached by demonstrators as part of an attempt by supporters of President Trump to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Over one hundred law enforcement officers and an unknown number of demonstrators were injured, and four demonstrators and one police officer were killed. Some notable inclusions in this dataset are Derrick Evans, a recently elected delegate from W. Virginia, Jake Angeli, a leader in the QAnon conspiracy-theory movement, Nick Ochs, who founded the Hawaii chapter of the Proud boys, and Klete Keller, the former USA swimmer and five-time Olympic medalist.
Just as we did during the George Floyd Uprising/Summer 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, we have worked to quickly track and investigate these cases, sharing the data transparently with journalists, policymakers, legal scholars and other academics, and social movement activists. In the immediate days after the Capitol attack, tPP fielded numerous calls from journalists and other investigators seeking this data, and we are pleased to share this information with the public.
This Capitol siege data set contains only cases of defendants who participated in the January 6, 2021 attack, and select additional cases wherein individuals were arrested prior to or after the siege for crimes directly relating to the day’s events.
For example, within this data set, we include the widely publicized case of Proud Boys leader Henry Tarrio, who was arrested two days before the siege after he arrived in Washington, D.C., allegedly as an event organizer, in possession of illegal firearm components.
In looking at our data, some may ask, ‘Why does the data set contain counter-protestor (i.e., anti-Trump, anti-fascist, Black Lives Matter) crimes mixed in with those from the attack on the Capitol building?’ 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, methods, 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,’ or through the use of other language which links the crime to the Capitol siege.
We will continue to add, investigate, and validate cases as information becomes available. Data are incomplete as details are still unfolding, but we have chosen to provide updates for others to build upon. Early coding may change as indictments are reviewed.
(listing updated 04/28/21 @ 10:02pm EST)
If you have further questions about the data or would like more information on the cases, their inclusion criteria, or to speak to a member of our team, get in touch.
Madison Weaver is the project manager for these cases and can be reached here.
Tracking federal and non-federal cases related to Summer-Fall protests, riots, & uprisings
Latest update: April 23, 2021
Original post: July 1, 2020
Since the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 by Minneapolis police and the resulting waves of protests nationwide, tPP has fielded many requests to help provide a count of resulting felony cases. The early summer protests, riots, and sporadic uprisings 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.
In December 2020, tPP began coding non-federal cases related to the Summer-Fall protests as well. We have several hundred more of these cases identified and awaiting coding. The current data set contains both federal and non-federal cases.
(listing updated 04/23/21 @ 10:00am 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
15 January 2021 “Activists are worried insurrectionists aren’t being charged as heavy handedly as Floyd protesters. Experts say the list of crimes pro-Trump rioters could face is just beginning.” [Business Insider]
14 January 2021 “DOJ is Considering Charging Capitol Rioters with Seditious Conspiracy, Felony Murder” [The Intercept]
5 January 2021 “5 Charged Over Minneapolis New Year’s Eve Riots Involving ‘Kill Cops’ and ‘Abolish Prisons’ Vandalism” [Daily Caller]
7 December 2020 “Shamar Betts: In Jail for Months Waiting for Trial” [WILL Radio – University of Illinois]
18 November 2020 “Feds, Under Trump, Stepping in to Prosecute Crimes Tied to Civil Unrest, Gun Violence” [Newsday]
15 November 2020 “Are BLM Prosecutions a Deliberate Crackdown?” [Al Jazeera]
31 October 2020 “The President’s War on Dissent Is Using Trumped-Up Federal Charges” [The Intercept]
30 October 2020 “Federal Prosecutors Engaged in Unprecedented Push to Jail Protesters before Trial” [The Intercept]
29 October 2020 “The aftermath of the Black Lives Matter protests – where do they stand now?” [The Hill]
29 October 2020 “Arson charges against prominent Philadelphia activist draw swift rebuke from protest movement” [The Bakersfield Californian]
27 October 2020: “Federal Felony Charges Against 300 in Police Protests” [The Crime Report]
27 October 2020: “America’s protest crackdown: five months after George Floyd, hundreds face trials and prison” [The Guardian]
28 September 2020: “Federal Charges for Black Lives Matter Protesters Even More Appalling in Light of Breonna Taylor Indictment” [The Root]
24 September 2020: “2 Black Lives Matter demonstrators are facing life in prison. Experts say the ‘deeply disturbing’ potential sentences are an ‘unprecedented’ form of government overreach” [Insider]
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]
1 December 2018: TV interview with tPP Director about the 2018 FBI Hate Crimes Report and the utility of tPP [Sinclair Broadcast Group]
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, […]