Race relations poll: Freddie Gray, Baltimore incidents seem to have had strong effect.

Well Over Half of Americans Say Race Relations Are “Generally Bad”

Well Over Half of Americans Say Race Relations Are “Generally Bad”

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May 5 2015 11:15 AM

Well Over Half of Americans Say Race Relations Are “Generally Bad”

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A protester in Baltimore on April 28.

Andrew Burton/Getty

A New York Times/CBS poll finds that 61 percent of Americans believe race relations in the country are “generally bad”—a more pessimistic result than the same poll question found even after protests over Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014. (At that time, 44 percent of respondents said relations were generally bad.) From the Times:

In a CBS News poll just two months ago, 38 percent said race relations were generally bad. Current views are by far the worst of Barack Obama’s presidency.
The negative sentiment is echoed by broad majorities of blacks and whites alike, a stark change from earlier this year, when 58 percent of blacks thought race relations were bad, but just 35 percent of whites agreed.

Not surprisingly, the percentage of Americans who believe that police are more likely to use deadly force against black suspects has ticked up in recent months as well.

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Screen shot/New York Times/CBS

Bloomberg reporter David Weigel writes, meanwhile, about conservative politicians’ and activists’ responses to events in Baltimore, observing that few if any have reacted to the vandalism that followed Freddie Gray’s funeral by calling for stricter law enforcement and incarceration policies—a significant change from the days when Republicans (and even many Democrats) reacted to urban unrest by announcing plans to get “tough on crime.” Weigel writes that conservatives have instead spoken about Baltimore’s issues as a consequence of poverty and family “pathology”—rhetoric that, while it may well have its own divisive and patronizing undercurrents, is at least on its face more sympathetic to urban citizens than a call for a law-and-order crackdown would be.