Scholars have long studied how social movements frame and deliver their messages, yet less is known about how these “signals” are received by the public. In this study, we examine how a social movement participant’s characteristics interact with a bystander’s to influence movement support. In addition, we examine how perceived likelihood of violence mediates these outcomes. We propose five competing models based on previous theories of emotion, race, and political views in social movement support. To adjudicate between these frameworks, we conduct an experiment using a 2x2 factorial design in which participants read a news story about a protest accompanied by an image of a neutral/angry, white/Black protestor, measuring three types of social movement support, and examine results and model fit. Results provide support for a politicized-race model: a Black protestor is more motivating for liberals’ social movement support, while a white protestor is more motivating for conservatives. Both liberals and conservatives are more likely to associate the protest with violence after seeing a Black protestor compared to a white one. Racialized perceptions of violence explain part of conservatives’ hesitancy to support the movement when seeing a Black protestor and inhibits part of the otherwise-positive effect of seeing a Black protestor for liberals.

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