Young blacks, Hispanics say they’re familiar with police harassment – poll

© Brendan McDermid
Two-thirds of young blacks and two-fifths of young Hispanics say that they or someone they know has experienced harassment or violence, according to a new poll.

According to the GenForward poll released Thursday, those figures include 20 percent of both blacks and Hispanics aged 18 to 30 said they have personally experienced violence or harassment by police. When only selecting young black men, however, that number increases to 30 percent saying that they have personally been on the receiving end of such behavior.

The poll results were released following high-profile fatal shootings of young black men by police, such as the July 5 shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and of Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minnesota, just a day later.

In what was believed to be retaliation for such killings, on July 7 a 25-year-old black man killed five police officers following a Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas, Texas. On July 17, another young black man killed three officers in an ambush in Baton Rouge in a similar incident.

This violence between minority groups and police has engendered concern for the safety of both groups, though such concern is not equally distributed. Sixty percent of young adults consider violence against police and the killing of African Americans by police to be “very serious” or “extremely serious” problems. However, young black and Hispanic people view deadly encounters with police as more serious problems, while young white people view violence against police to be the more alarming issue.

Most of the young people polled, including whites, but especially blacks and Hispanics, said that they are less confident in police due to the lack of conviction of the Baltimore police officers charged in relation to the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who suffered fatal injuries while in the back of a police van.

However, young people – including, perhaps surprisingly, blacks and Hispanics – support having a police presence in their communities, with most supporting adding more police or security guards to public places.

The GenForward poll surveyed 1,940 young people aged 18 to 30 by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago. The poll said that it paid special attention to people of color. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.