A survey reported by the Associated Press found that white Americans approve of police use of force far more than black and Hispanic Americans do.
About 70 percent of whites can imagine a circumstance in which they would approve of an officer striking an adult male. By contrast, only 42 percent of blacks and 38 percent of Hispanics would give their approval, according to the 2014 General Social Survey, produced by the independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago.
In the aftermath of police slayings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner on Staten Island, N.Y., the nation is now keenly aware of the mistrust between law enforcement and communities of color. In those high-profile cases, police officers killed two unarmed black men, which sparked a wave of nationwide demonstrations.
Many experts said that the survey results are not surprising, given the majority and minority communities’ different experiences and historical relationships with police.
“Whites are significantly more likely to give police officers the benefit of the doubt, either because they have never had an altercation with a police officer or because they tend to see the police as allies in the fight against crime,” said Ronald Weitzer, a George Washington University sociology professor, according to AP.
University of Kansas professor Charles R. Epp added that most white people expect “reasonable and fair” treatment from law enforcement. Blacks and Hispanics, by contrast, have either experienced or heard of cases in which police officers used excessive force in their communities.
Read more at the Associated Press.