- A majority of Americans say the anger that led to nationwide protests against police violence is “fully justified,” according to a poll from the Monmouth University Polling Institute.
- The poll, published Tuesday, also found that most Americans (57%) believe that police are more likely to use excessive force against a black person than a white person.
- Other results indicate a still-present rift between black and white Americans.
- Black Americans are more likely than white Americans to support protesters’ anger – and destructive protest tactics.
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Some 57% of Americans said the anger that led to nationwide protests against police brutality is “fully justified,” according to a poll published Tuesday.
Results from the Monmouth University Polling Institute poll, conducted from May 28 through June 1, indicate broad shifts in how Americans understand the nature of racism and police violence. Just 18% of respondents said protesters’ anger was “not at all justified.”
57% per cent of respondents also said American police are more likely to use excessive force in “a difficult or dangerous situation” against a black person. A third of respondents said police were equally likely to use excessive force against a white person in such a situation.
American police kill an average 2.8 men each day, a 2018 study found, and black men are up to four times more likely than whites to be killed by police. Roughly one in 1,000 black men will be killed by police “over the life course,” another study found.
The views from the latest poll mark a shift in how Americans think about police violence. In a poll taken after the police shooting of Alton Sterling in 2016, just 34% said police were more likely to use excessive force against black culprits, while 52% said it was just as likely that such force would be used against white culprits. In December 2014, following the acquittal of a New York City police officer who held Eric Garner in a chokehold, just 33% said excessive force by police was more likely to happen against black culprits.
“It seems we have reached a turning point in public opinion where white Americans are realising that black Americans face risks when dealing with police that they do not,” Patrick Murray, director of Monmouth’s polling institute, said in a statement.
Though white Americans may be reckoning more deeply than ever with the country’s racist police violence, they do not universally condone protesters’ more disruptive tactics.
After protesters burned down the Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct in Minnesota, just 17% of respondents said the action was “fully justified.” Another 37% said it was “partially justified.”
Black Americans are more likely than white Americans to support the protesters’ anger and tactics
Sixty-nine per cent of black Americans say the protesters’ anger is “fully justified,” wheras 55% of white Americans say the same.
Twenty-seven per cent of black Americans say the protesters’ actions are “fully justified,” and just 15% of white Americans say the same.
“White Americans (45%) are much more likely than black Americans (21%) and Americans of other minority groups (30%) to say [the actions] are not at all justified,” the poll found.
The gap between the number of black and white Americans who support disruptive tactics could indicate significant differences between how black and white Americans understand the severity of police violence.
“When people feel helpless, like there is nothing left to lose, like their lives already hang in the balance, a wild, swirling, undirected rage is a logical result,” opinion columnist Charles Blow wrote in the New York Times.
“You destroy people’s prospects, they will destroy your property.”
- Read more:
- Voices captured on an NYC police scanner can be heard saying protesters should be shot and run over
- The George Floyd demonstrations have led to a cycle of violence between cops and protesters. Experts say only a shift in policing itself can end it.
- New York City cops sat watching as looters ransacked stores in Manhattan
- Police have arrested more than 4,200 people nationwide in protests following George Floyd’s death
- ‘They gonna blame that on us’: Videos show white protesters smashing windows and defacing stores as black protesters tell them they’re endangering black lives
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