While a (very) slight majority of white youth support Black Lives Matter, overall, their allegiance still greatly lies with officers of the law rather than African Americans the latest Black Youth Project and GenForward Survey has found.

Each month the organizations “document what young African Americans, Latino/as, Asian Americans and whites are thinking about: the 2016 presidential election, experiences with and attitudes toward the police and policies to enhance policing, and their views of immigrants and preferences over immigration policy.” In August, the poll, which included responses from 1,908 young people between the ages of 18 and 30, showed “majorities of all racial and ethnic groups support the Black Lives Matter movement, even young white adults (51%).” This is an improvement over July numbers which found only 41% of white youth supported the movement. However, as we well know, and the study points out as well, “there remains a sizeable gap between African Americans and others—particularly whites—in their backing of the movement.” That likely has a lot to do with perceptions of the problem.


White youth were more likely to believe police killings of African Americans were isolated incidents (48%) rather than part of a larger problem (40%.) By contrast, only 11% of African Americans, 27% of Asian Americans, and 32% of Latino/as see the killings as isolated.


Further, when asked about the severity of police violence against African Americans and violence against police, whites were the only group to see violence against the police as a bigger issue than police killings of blacks (63% versus 43%).


Cathy Cohen, a professor of politics at the University of Chicago and principal investigator with the Black Youth Project offered up an explanation for that figure in an interview with Mic, saying:

“[Young white people] grow up in a society that says you can count on police, [so] it’s not surprising that young whites in particular are struggling with wanting to support this movement because they’re seeing the killings of black people, but also hearing from stakeholders like politicians and the media that this movement is causing violence against police.”

On the solutions front, the proposal that is believed to be most effective in reducing police violence among young Asian Americans (71%), Latino/as (71%), and whites (71%) is a proposal to require on-duty police officers to wear video cameras. Unsurprisingly, “African Americans are slightly less convinced with only 62% believing that video cameras would prevent police violence.” This, no doubt, stems from the fact that camera footage has yet to make a difference in the cases of Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Sam DuBose, Alton Sterling or Charles Kinsey.

The proposals that African Americans most strongly support are “setting stricter criteria for the use of deadly force by police officers and requiring a special prosecutor in cases where police commit violence against a civilian (both 68%), as well as “limiting the use of military equipment by police officers.”

What do you think?

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