Long before the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Freddie Gray, more than half of African-American millennials indicated they, or someone they knew, had been victimized by violence or harassment from law enforcement, a new report says.
The information, from the “Black Millennials in America” report issued by the Black Youth Project at the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago, reflects starkly different attitudes among black, Latino, Asian and white millennials when it comes to policing, guns and the legal system in the United States.
Researchers, who have surveyed millennials several times during the past decade, point out that the disparities existed well before the “Black Lives Matter” movement began.
In the 2009 Mobilization and Change Survey, 54.4 percent of black millennials answered yes to the question “Have you or anyone you know experienced harassment or violence at the hands of the police?” Almost one-third of whites, 1 in 4 Latinos and 28 percent of Asian-Americans surveyed said yes to the same question.
But even while being the wellspring of those movements, a clear majority of black millennials–71 percent–said in that same survey they believe police in their neighborhood were “there to protect you.” Eighty-five percent of whites, 76 percent of Hispanics and 89 percent of Asians also said police were in their neighborhood to protect them.
Another survey done by the project in 2013, the Black Youth Project Quarterly Survey, showed that the percentage of blacks and Latinos who said they knew people who carried guns had declined, but more of them knew someone who was the victim of gun violence. Twenty-four percent of blacks and 22 percent of Latino millennials said they or someone they knew “carried a gun in the last month.” Almost half of white millennials–46 percent–said they knew of someone who carried a gun.
However, 22 percent of black millennials and 14 percent of Latino millennials said they or someone they knew were the victim of gun violence in the last year, compared with 8 percent of white millennials.
The 2009 survey was taken between October and November 2008, May and July 2009 and November and January 2010 and included 4,345 people 18 years old and older. The 2014 Black Youth Project Survey consisted of four surveys conducted between 2012 and 2014 and included 6,118 people.