There is a vast racial gap in the perception of what was right and wrong in the Ferguson police officer shooting and killing of unarmed black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. on Aug. 9.
A research poll concludes that the white people of greater Ferguson, Mo. and St. Louis County believe officer Darren Wilson was justified in his actions. The killing Brown incited demonstrations, rallies and weeks of contentious and often violent confrontations between demonstrators and the local police forces.
The Remington Research Group poll of 604 St. Louis County residents revealed in stark detail the racial schism that exists in the county on issues concerning law enforcement, race and Michael Brown. Those numbers bode well for Wilson, whose fate is currently being adjudicated by a St. Louis County grand jury that consists of nine whites and three Blacks.
The Remington Research Group poll said this:
- A full 62 percent of white respondents said the shooting of Brown was justified; 38 percent of whites said the shooting wasn’t justified.
- In contrast, only 35 percent of African-Americans said the shooting was justified, while 65 percent said it was not.
Was Brown targeted by law enforcement because of his race?
- Just 23 percent of white respondents said Yes, while 77 percent said No.
- For African-Americans, 64 percent said Brown was indeed targeted because of his race, and 36 percent said he wasn’t.
The poll results are a dramatic reminder of how differently questions of race are seen through the eyes of whites and African-Americans.
The question with the biggest racial divide was one that asked whether Wilson should be arrested and charged with a crime for killing Brown.
- A staggering 72 percent of white respondents said No, with just 28 percent saying Yes.
- In an almost complete reversal, 71 percent of Black respondents said Yes, while just 29 percent said No.
What are the ramifications of these numbers? What do they mean?
If all nine white members vote ‘no’ on indicting Wilson and the three Blacks vote ‘yes,’ the grand jury rules dictate that Wilson would have enough votes to walk away a free man.
Here are more interesting data from the poll:
County residents were questioned to whether St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch will be able to fairly and impartially prosecute a case against the police officer who shot and killed Brown,
- 71 percent of whites said ‘yes,’
- 60 percent of Blacks said ‘no.’
- 70 percent of African-Americans believe they are targeted because of race.
Respondents were asked whether the media have made the situation in Ferguson better or worse.
- A full 81 percent of white respondents said “worse” (12 percent said the media made things better; while 7 percent said the media made no difference);
- A full 50 percent of Blacks said “worse” (while 37 percent said better and 13 percent said no difference).
The only question in the poll where blacks and whites agreed was on the job that Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is doing. Asked how they viewed Nixon’s handling of the situation in Ferguson, 62 percent of whites and 70 percent of Blacks said “unfavorable”, while 38 percent of whites and 30 percent of Blacks said “favorable”.