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Support for Trump Drives Opinions on Racism, Violence, and the Police Across the U.S.
06.02.2020

In major cities across the United States, citizens of diverse backgrounds have taken to the streets to protest racial injustice following more tragedies involving black Americans losing their lives to police brutality. These protests and incidents of violence continue to erupt across the nation days after the death of 46-year-old George Floyd — an unarmed African American man who died while in police custody. A video of the incident, nearly ten minutes long, in which Floyd pleaded that he could not breathe while an officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes was seen by millions across the country.

In 2017, data showed that a majority (57%) of Americans do not believe that police treat black Americans and members of other minority communities generally the same as whites. This number is augmented in the black community where more than eight in ten (83%) black Americans and nearly two-thirds (65%) of Hispanic Americans do not believe blacks and other minorities are treated the same by police as whites. White Americans are divided (49% agree vs. 51% disagree) on whether they think treatment is different. More than seven in ten (71%) Trump supporters believed black and white Americans were treated the same by police.

When Americans were asked about African American deaths involving police officers, 45% of Americans said they believed them to be isolated incidents. This number rises to 78% for those with a favorable view of President Donald Trump and drops to 27% for those with an unfavorable view. More than half the country (53%) said that the incidents were the result of a broader pattern of how police treat African Americans. That same year, 73% of all Americans agreed that there was still a lot of discrimination against the black community in the United States, including 47% of people who view President Trump favorably.  Nearly half of those with a favorable view of Trump (49%) said that there was a lot of discrimination against white Americans. Just 3% of those with a favorable view of Trump said that black Americans have gotten less than they deserve by society.

As one generation experiences violence and anger over racial injustice for the first time, another grapples with how to explain the decades that have preceded it. At CNN, Sandee LaMotte provides a guide on how to talk to children of all ages and races about protests and racism. Dr. Jenny Radesky, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at the University of Michigan, encourages families not to shield their children from what is happening. “White and non-black families should not shield their older children from these images,” Radesky says. “While it is upsetting to watch, we need to sit with that discomfort and teach our families how to channel that energy to work to dismantle the racist structures that exist in our communities,” she adds. According to PRRI data, nearly nine in ten (85%) of Americans say they are angry that racism exists. Fourteen percent of the country disagrees, including 17% with favorable views of President Trump.