American voters now support sweeping changes to policing; 83 percent want a ban on racial profiling, 92 percent want police to be required to wear body cameras and White Americans’ concern over police violence has increased by 50 percent since 2019.
Just four weeks of protest have radically altered Americans’ views on the police and what their role in society should be. Once almost exclusively the domain of activist groups, moves to comprehensively change, defund or even abolish the police are rapidly gaining momentum with the public.
A new study published this week by Data for Progress shows that voters overwhelmingly (58 percent to 24 percent) support the creation of a new agency of first responders to deal with problems in the community – an agency that would explicitly undermine the police’s purview. The public would like to see the service, whose agents would resemble social workers more than police officers, take over a great number of situations police currently deal with, including mental health crises, drug addiction problems (including overdoses), and issues regarding homelessness. Significant numbers of people want to see the new agency tackle issues like spousal abuse and all non-violent crimes as well. “For elected officials looking to strengthen their communities and take action in the face of mass protest on police brutality, creating a non police first-responder agency proves to be a popular option that deserves their attention,” the report concludes.
Protests erupted in all 50 states and around the world following the release of video showing Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of Geroge Floyd, an unarmed black man, suffocating him to death. Authorities around the country responded with force to control and quash the protests, with over 30 states mobilizing the National Guard. New York City declared a curfew while President Trump encouraged his forces to shoot whomever they deemed to be “thugs” and “looters.” “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he tweeted. Opinion polls have shown that nearly three-quarters of Americans are sympathetic to the protestors, while large majorities oppose Trump’s actions. 60 percent of the public, including two-thirds of independent voters, disapprove of the president’s handling of the situation, with the number who strongly disapprove outnumbering those who strongly approve three-to-one.
Today, the president appeared to up the ante, implying that “any protesters” that show up to his rally in Tulsa tomorrow evening will be treated far worse than they have been in Minneapolis, Seattle, or New York. “It will be a much different scene,” he said.
However, the tide seems to be turning against the man who styles himself the “law and order president.” Voters support sweeping changes made to police; 83 percent want a ban on racial profiling, 92 percent want police to be required to wear body cameras. White Americans’ concern over police violence has increased by 50 percent since 2019. Twice as many say police themselves are treated too leniently as did last year. Perhaps more remarkably, 39 percent of the country (128 million people) are ready to dismantle the police entirely.