A majority of Americans believe protesters taking to the streets of cities across the nation over the police killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers last week are justified in their anger and at least partially in their actions, according to new polling from around the country.
The polling also found a majority of Americans believe police use disproportionate force on blacks as opposed to whites, a jump from four years ago when only a third of the public held that view.
"It seems we have reached a turning point in public opinion where white Americans are realizing that black Americans face risks when dealing with police that they do not," Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a statement. "They may not agree with the violence of recent protests, but many whites say they understand where that anger is coming from."
A majority (57%) of the public now says police are more likely to use excessive force with a black person than a white person in similar situations, according to a new @MonmouthPoll . Only one-third of the country held this opinion four years ago. https://t.co/ecI9H1VZVG
— John McCormick (@McCormickJohn) June 2, 2020
The number of white people who believe that police use excessive force more against black people has doubled since 2016.
For the first time, a clear majority of people believe that police disproportionately target black Americans.
Keep speaking. https://t.co/bPy2OIc95y
— jess mcintosh (@jess_mc) June 3, 2020
Of particular note was Monmouth's finding that a majority of Americans believe the anger of demonstrators taking part in the uprising against police violence and brutality is justified and that their actions are fully or partially justified.
“the current findings represent a marked change in public opinion from prior polls.”https://t.co/weelilNhyk
— mike casca (@cascamike) June 3, 2020
As Monmouth explained:
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Only 17% of the public says that the actions of protestors, including the burning of a police precinct, sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police are fully justified, but another 37% say they are partially justified. On the other hand, 38% say these actions are not at all justified. At the same time, a majority of the American public (57%) says that the anger that led to these protests is fully justified. Another 21% say it is partially justified and only 18% say it is not at all justified.
The 17% number, tweeted Forum News Service columnist Rob Port, is larger than it may seem.
"A majority of both self-identified R's and D's said they approved of the protests but felt property damage and looting undermined the cause, with under a quarter believing the looting was justified."
"Under a quarter" is still a lot of people.https://t.co/GHzweOQ8WP
— Rob Port (@robport) June 3, 2020
President Donald Trump's handling of the unrest, as well as his general racist views, are polling poorly as well.
As CNN explained:
Few are comfortable with the president's handling of the situation. Monmouth found that a majority of Americans (53%) say race relations in the U.S. have gotten worse since President Donald Trump took office four years ago, about the same share who felt that way after eight years of former President Barack Obama's tenure.
Trump's approval on the events and protests in Minneapolis is lower than his usual overall approval, almost half of Americans in the CBS/YouGov poll (49%) disapprove of how he's handling the situation, while 32% approve and 19% haven't heard enough.
Around three-quarters of registered voters reported Trump favors whites, compared to 23% who say the same of blacks, according to CBS/YouGov. Half of voters said the President actively works against black Americans.
Trump on Monday suggested he would turn to the U.S. military for help in quelling the demonstrations around the country before walking to a hastily thrown together photo-op at St. John's Episcopal Church through Lafayette Park—violently cleared of protesters just minutes before to accommodate the president.