Nearly nine in 10 Black Americans said major changes were needed to overhaul policing in the U.S., according to a recent poll from the Gallup Center on Black Voices. Yet only 22% of Black respondents supported the idea of abolishing the police, the poll found, compared with 20% of Latinos and 12% of white respondents.
Lance Williams, a professor of urban community studies at Northeastern Illinois University, said opinions likely depend on how closely people are affected by neighborhood violence. A person living in a safer part of Englewood may like the idea of cutting police budgets, while neighbors on a more dangerous block probably worry about what will happen with fewer police. “Not everybody from the community is the same,” he said…
Some residents said protesters would do more good working in the neighborhood. They pointed to community groups that give away food and other necessities, and a local dance troupe leader who said he pays for practice space from his own pocket. The neighborhood wish list includes a youth center and mental-health workers, residents said, as well as police officers who are on the scene quickly when there is trouble.
Joseph Williams, a 31-year-old married father of five in Englewood, said he would like to see police better engage with residents to build trust rather than disband. He’s trying to coordinate a dialogue with the protest organizers: “If there’s no police at all, what’s the back up?”