Majority Of Adults In UK Say Black Lives Matter Movement Increased Racial Tensions, Poll Shows

People gather at a Black Lives Matter protest.
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More than half of adults in the U.K. believe that the Black Lives Matter movement has increased racial tensions, a new poll shows.

As The Guardian reported, a poll conducted by Opinium showed that 55 percent of adults believe the protests that spread across the U.K. over the summer led to a rise in animosities. Some of the leading figures in Black Lives Matter, which seeks to end systemic racism and police brutality, said the poll shows that it exposed already existing racial fault lines.

There were a number of protests across the United Kingdom in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis in May, including one where demonstrators in the city of Bristol tore down a statue of the 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston and threw it into the city’s harbor. There were more demonstrations that took place across the globe, many in solidarity with those seeking justice in the United States and calling for injustices to be addressed in their own countries.

Black Lives Matter protesters in England.
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The Guardian noted that there has been an increase in the number of Black people who said they faced racial discrimination in the last year, rising from 74 percent in 2019 to 81 percent this year. There was also an increase in the number of Chinese people who said they were discriminated against, which the report saying that this could have been a sign of racism arising from the origin of COVID-19 in China.

When it came to white respondents, those with more conservative leanings were more likely to believe that the movement was the cause for the rising animosity.

“White people were more likely to believe that the BLM movement, which was given fresh momentum by global outrage at the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May, had increased racial tensions, Opinium found. Those citing that concern most were Conservative voters, with 78% saying they believed it had inflamed tensions and just 6% saying it hadn’t,” the report noted.

The newspaper added that some top Conservative Party officials attacked Black Lives Matter, including former chancellor Sajid Javid calling it “neo-Marxist” and saying it was “not a force for good.” That reflects attacks from many in the United States, including President Donald Trump who echoed the same language in speaking out against the demonstrations.

The Guardian wrote that some experts believe that the protests made white residents uncomfortable. Kalwant Bhopal, director of the Centre for Research in Race and Education at the University of Birmingham, said some of those who reacted harshly may have felt that their privilege was being threatened and questioned.