Can the anger and destruction following the killing of George Floyd have an upside? According to a new poll from the Washington Post and Ipsos, there may be reason for optimist — at least among African-Americans. The overwhelming consensus of outrage over the Minneapolis police’s actions in the Floyd case has stoked hope that real change in policing could be coming.
What form that takes is another matter, but this time the partnership of whites in the demand for accountability has black Americans optimistic that the times may be a-changin’:
While a majority of Americans across all racial groups report feeling sad, angry and troubled by Floyd’s killing, black people perceive the country’s police forces as far more racially biased than white people do,the poll finds. More than half of black adults say they or someone they know had an unfair interaction with police in the past few years. More than a third say there was an occasion when they feared being hurt by apolice officer— much higher than the shares of white and Hispanic Americans reporting the same experiences.
But black people also largely believe Floyd’s death could be a catalyst for change, in part because people of all colors have participated in protests in hundreds of cities and towns and demanded movement from political leaders, actions several survey respondents cited in follow-up interviews. The survey suggests that the avalanche of revulsion to Floyd’s video-recorded killing — including criticism of the Minneapolis police officers’ actions across the political spectrum and a newfound embrace of the slogan “Black Lives Matter” — has sparked hope among black Americans that the country will address discrimination in ways it did not after past incidents in which police killed black people.
Nearly 6 in 10 black Americans believe Floyd’s killing will increase white Americans’ concern about racial discrimination by police. And a narrow majority think police treatment of black Americans is likely to improve in coming years.
“It’s white people’s participation, that’s the difference. They’re the ones who have to see it,” said Dexter Banks, a 46-year-old project manager from Memphis. “We can complain all day long, but if we’re not the majority, there’s not much we can do. They have to have an interest in our problems. As long as they are interested in it, then we have a shot.”