Civic Responses to Police Violence


Desmond Ang and John Tebes. Working Paper. “Civic Responses to Police Violence”.


Roughly a thousand people are killed by American law enforcement officers each year, accounting for more than 5% of all homicides. We estimate the causal impact of these events on civic engagement. Exploiting hyper-local variation in how close residents live to a killing, we find that exposure to police violence leads to signicant increases in registrations and votes. These effects are driven entirely by Blacks and Hispanics and are largest for killings of unarmed individuals. We find corresponding increases in support for criminal justice reforms, suggesting that police violence may cause voters to politically mobilize against perceived injustice.