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Polls Reveal Racial Divide in How Blacks, Whites View Brown’s Killing and the Events in Ferguson

Aftermath of Michael Brown shooting, Ferguson, St. Louis, America - 12 Aug 2014As can be expected, there are stark racial divisions in how America sees and understands what is going on in Ferguson, Missouri — whites are more likely to say that what happened to Michael Brown was an isolated incident rather than part of a broader pattern, while African-Americans overwhelmingly say it is part of a broader pattern.

According to a poll by HuffPost/YouGov, 40 percent of white Americans said Brown’s Aug. 9 shooting was an isolated incident and 35 percent said it was part of a broader pattern. With African-Americans, 76 percent said it was part of a broader pattern and just 6 percent said his shooting was an isolated incident. 

In a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, 80 percent of African-Americans say the shooting in Ferguson raises important issues about race that merit discussion, while by a margin of 47 percent to 37 percent, whites say the issue of race is getting more attention than it deserves.

As for the reaction of the police in Ferguson to the protesting, there was an interesting partisan split — Democrats tended to say that the police acted unreasonably (46 percent) rather than reasonably (19 percent), but 55 percent of Republicans said the police acted reasonably while only 17 percent said that the police acted unreasonably, according to the YouGov poll.

Whites are much more likely than Blacks to have confidence in the investigation of the shooting, according to the Pew poll: About 52 percent of whites say they have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the investigations, compared with just 18 percent of Blacks. Seventy-six percent of Blacks have little or no confidence in the investigations, with 45 percent saying they have no confidence at all.

Perhaps the poll revealed a bit of progress in the way whites look at race. According to Pew, after George Zimmerman was acquitted last year of killing Trayvon Martin, 60 percent of whites said race received more attention in that case than it deserved. In the Michael Brown case, Pew found that 47 percent of whites now say that about the shooting of the unarmed teen in Ferguson.



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