By GARY LANGER
(NEW YORK) — Sixty-three percent of Americans support the Black Lives Matter movement and a record 69% — the most by far in 32 years of polling — say Black people and other minorities are denied equal treatment in the criminal justice system, two of several signs of deep changes in public attitudes on racial discrimination.
These views don’t necessarily translate into majority preferences on policy — 55% oppose reducing police funding in favor of more social services, for instance, with 40% in favor. Nonetheless, this ABC News/Washington Post poll finds substantial shifts in how Americans view underlying issues of racial justice. Among them:
• Fifty-five percent in this poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, say Black people who live in their own community experience racial discrimination, up from a low of 37% in 2012 and the most since the question was first asked 17 years ago. Among whites, 33% in 2012 saw racial discrimination in their own communities; today this has grown to 52%. It’s also at 52% among Hispanic people.
• The share of Americans overall who say Black people and other minorities do not receive equal treatment in the criminal justice system has jumped 15 percentage points just since 2014, and 31 points from a low in 1997, to the most in a question that dates to 1988. Among whites, it’s up from 44% six years ago to 62%, a majority for the first time. Here, again, views among Hispanics more closely resemble those among whites — 68% perceive unequal treatment in the criminal justice system.
• The number of whites who are confident that police are adequately trained to avoid using excessive force has dropped by 12 points since 2014, from 62 to 50%. Again, it’s about the same among Hispanics at 51%. Confidence among whites that the police treat white and Black people equally is down eight points, to 55%. It’s also down 11 points among Blacks, to just 10%.
• Fifty-five percent of Americans overall see the recent killings of unarmed Black people by police as “a sign of broader problems” in police treatment of Blacks, rather than as isolated incidents. That’s up from 43% in 2014, after the deaths of Eric Garner in New York City and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Seeing this as a broader problem is up 13 points among whites, to 48%, as well as 12 points among Black people. Among Hispanics, 54% see recent killings as a sign of broader problems.
Along with these changes, the survey also finds increased social contact: Eighty-five percent of whites now say there’s a Black person they consider a fairly close personal friend, up from 54% when first asked in 1981. And 89% of Black people say the same about a white person, up from 69% 39 years ago.
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