After Ferguson Shooting, Americans Still Deeply Divided On Racial Issues

December 2, 2014  

1. A new survey echoes what residents of Ferguson, Missouri, have said: Americans are divided on whether the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer raises issues of race.

The survey by the nonpartisan group found blacks said the shooting “raises important issues about race that need to be discussed” by a majority of four to one. For whites, only 37% saw the same issues of race.

The divisions continue in discussion of the police response to protesters in the city, the survey found. A majority of blacks — 65% — said police overstepped in their actions. Among whites, roughly the same amout of respondents said police actions went too far, seemed about right or they didn’t know.

3. A large majority of blacks added they had little confidence in investigations of Brown’s death.

4. Whites’ thinking on race issues has changed, however, since the shooting death of another unarmed black teen, the survey found.

In 2013, after a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of the murder or manslaughter of Trayvon Martin, 60% of whites surveyed thought race was getting too much attention in the case. Now, that number has dropped to 47% when whites are surveyed about Brown.

Among black respondents, opinions have remained roughly the same.

6. The survey found other groups of Americans were also divided in how they saw the issue.

Reactions to last week’s events in Ferguson divide the public by partisan affiliation and age, as well as by race.

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