Half of Blacks Say Police Have Treated Them Unfairly

Jesse J. Holland, AP, August 5, 2015

A majority of blacks in the United States–more than 3 out of 5–say they or a family member have personal experience with being treated unfairly by the police, and their race is the reason.

Half of African-Americans respondents, including 6 in 10 black men, said they personally had been treated unfairly by police because of their race, compared with 3 percent of whites. Another 15 percent said they knew of a family member who had been treated unfairly by the police because of their race.

This information, from a survey conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, comes as the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, approaches its first anniversary and the nation continues to grapple with police-related deaths of black Americans.

White Americans who live in more diverse communities–where census data show at least 25 percent of the population is non-white–were more likely than other whites to say police in their communities mistreat minorities, 58 percent to 42 percent. And they’re more likely to see the police as too quick to use deadly force, 42 percent to 29 percent.

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The AP-NORC poll also showed:

-More than two-thirds of blacks–71 percent–thought police are treated too leniently by the criminal justice system when they hurt or kill people. A third of whites say police are getting away with it, while nearly half–46 percent–say the police are treated fairly by the criminal justice system.

-Sixty-two percent of whites said a major reason why police violence happens is that civilians confront the police, rather than cooperate, when they are stopped. Three out of 4 blacks, or 75 percent, said it is because the consequences of police misconduct are minimal, and few officers are prosecuted for excessive use of force. More than 7 in 10 blacks identified problems with race relations, along with poor police-community relations, as major reasons for police violence.

-Nearly 3 out of 4 whites–74 percent–thought race had nothing to do with how police in their communities decide to use deadly force. Among blacks, 71 percent thought police were more likely to use deadly force against black people in their communities, and 85 percent said the same thing applied generally across the country. Fifty-eight percent of whites thought race had nothing to do with police decisions in most communities on use of deadly force.

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