Amajority of Black Americans have said they want police presence in their area to either remain the same or increase, despite recent protests over police brutality, according to new polls.
A Gallup poll conducted from June 23 to July 6 surveying more than 36,000 U.S. adults found that 61 percent of Black Americans said they’d like police to spend the same amount of time in their community, while 20 percent answered they’d like to see more police, totaling 81 percent. Just 19 percent of those polled said they wanted police to spend less time in their area.
Black Americans’ responses to the question were nearly on par with the national average, in which 67 percent of all U.S. adults said they wanted police presence to remain the same and 19 percent said they wanted it to increase.
The poll’s results come amid continuing nationwide protests over police brutality and systemic racism. The rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, which activists founded in 2013, has led the U.S. to its largest collective push for civil rights since the 1960s.
Calls to defund and even abolish entire police departments are popular talking points among BLM activists. Miski Noor, an organizer and activist with Black Visions Collective in Minnesota, recently told WBUR that abolitionists “100 percent” mean they want no more police officers.
On May 30, five days after George Floyd died at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, BLM called for the of defunding police in a statement on its website.
“We call for an end to the systemic racism that allows this culture of corruption to go unchecked and our lives to be taken,” according to the statement. “We call for a national defunding of police. We demand investment in our communities and the resources to ensure Black people not only survive, but thrive.”
While defunding police departments wouldn’t necessarily mean that fewer police officers are out on the streets, data from the Gallup poll suggests a majority of Black Americans still want a continued police presence in their communities.
The poll found that the biggest racial gaps were concerning police fairness and perceived bias. Just 18 percent of Black Americans said they felt “very confident” that local police would treat them with courtesy and respect during an interaction—a number vastly lower than the national average.The majority of U.S. adults polled (48 percent) said they were “very confident” their interaction with police would be positive.
Of the white Americans polled, 56 percent said they were “very confident” they would be treated with courtesy and respect, suggesting evidence of racial bias during police interactions.