According to a Yahoo News/YouGov poll released on Sunday, a majority of Americans believe race was a “major factor” in George Floyd’s death. Floyd, an African American, died earlier this week in Minnesota after officer Derek Chauvin pinned him to the ground and knelt on his neck.
Floyd’s death sparked outrage across the nation, with tens of thousands of Americans taking to the streets to protest police brutality.
According to the poll, 61 percent of Americans believe race was a “major factor” in Floyd’s death and 77 percent said that Chauvin was “obviously guilty” of murder. Only 23 percent said that a more detailed investigation would be necessary to determine what happened.
The vast majority of Americans agreed with bringing charges against Chauvin. Seven percent said that the officer should have been charged with a less serious crime than third-degree murder, and only 4 percent said that he should not have been charged at all.
Most respondents agreed that there is a racial bias in American society and in the criminal justice system. Sixty-two percent said that the criminal justice system treats white Americans better than African Americans and 61 percent said that police brutality toward African Americans signifies a “broader problem.”
However, 68 percent of Republicans said that the deaths of African Americans during encounters with law enforcement are isolated incidents. Similarly, 40 percent of Republicans said that police officers are “usually held accountable” for their misconduct. The vast majority of those who identify with the Democratic Party disagreed on both issues.
In addition, a clear majority of Democrats — 70 percent of them — said that race relations in the country are generally bad. Republicans were more split on this issue, with 46 percent saying that the relations are generally bad and 43 percent describing them as generally good.
Americans appear to agree that reforms need to be introduced, with 67 percent saying that neck restraints need to be banned. Eighty percent support introducing an “early-warning system to identify problematic officers,” and 87 percent think officers of law should wear body cameras. Eighty-eight percent said police officers should generally avoid using force during conflicts.
Even though most Americans are in agreement when it comes to potential reform measures, a majority — 65 percent — do not think defunding police departments would be a good solution. Democrats, Republicans, and independent voters all oppose cuts in funding for police departments.
“The only group to show any substantial support for defunding police departments is African Americans, who are nearly three times as likely as whites — 33 percent versus 12 percent — to say they favor the measure,” Yahoo News noted.