(NEW YORK) — Sixty-nine percent of Americans say U.S. race relations are generally bad, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll — meaning Americans have reached a similar level of dissatisfaction as they felt after the Rodney King verdict 24 years ago.
The opinion of race relations today are 12 percent worse than at this time last year, the poll said, in response to the question: “Do you think race relations in the United States are generally good or generally bad?”
The poll was conducted with 1,600 Americans from Friday, July 8, to Tuesday, July 12 — after last week’s controversial police-involved shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota and the deadly shootings of officers in Dallas that targeted white cops.
With nearly 70 percent of Americans now viewing race relations as poor, the nation has reached the same level of dissatisfaction as after the Rodney King verdict and subsequent riots in Los Angeles. In May 1992, 68 percent said race relations were bad, the New York Times/CBS News poll reported. The 1992 L.A. riots were sparked when police officers were acquitted in the beating of King, a black man, by a predominantly white jury.
Today, black and white Americans have similar views on the current state of race relations: the New York Times/CBS News poll shows 71 percent of whites view race relations as bad and 72 percent of blacks view race relations as bad.
But views on the use of police force differ: 75 percent of blacks think the police are more likely to use deadly force against a black person than a white person while 36 percent of whites think the police are more likely to use deadly force against a black person than a white person, according to the poll. And while 56 percent of whites think race doesn’t make a difference in the use of deadly force by police, only 18 percent of blacks think race doesn’t make a difference in the use of deadly force by police, according to the poll.
Two instances of black men dying in police-involved shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota last week sparked nationwide riots, and the week ended with a black gunman targeting white cops in Dallas in a deadly attack. When asked about the Dallas police shooting, 55 percent of whites said they were surprised by it, while 52 percent of blacks say they were not surprised, the poll said.
The margin of error for the entire sample was plus or minus 3 percentage points; the margin of error for the sample of whites is 3 points and for the sample of blacks 9 points, according to the poll.
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