Story at a glance

  • Since George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis, demonstrators around the country have been protesting against police brutality and systemic racism.
  • A Reuters/Ipsos poll found that a majority of Americans sympathize with protesters.
  • At the same time, most Americans disapprove of how Trump has responded to the demonstrations.

Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner were the names protesters chanted in 2014, when the Black Lives Matter movement was just emerging. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery are just some of the names protestders are now chanting six years later.

While it may appear that not much changed in the intermediate years, a new poll suggests that American public opinion has swayed.


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A Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 64 percent of Americans sympathize with "people who are out protesting right now" compared to 27 percent who were not, while 9 percent are unsure. Meanwhile, more than 55 percent of Americans disapproved of President Donald Trump's handling of the protests, and about one-third said they approved. The president's overall job approval is currently at 39 percent. The poll surveyed more than 1,000 American adults online in English, according to Reuters. 


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In 2014, a CBS News/New York Times poll found that 59 percent of Americans said protesters in Ferguson had gone too far and 20 percent said the protesters had behaved "about right," while 7 percent said they had not gone far enough. The same poll found that more Americans agreed with the police response to the protests, 33 percent saying it was "about right" and 15 percent saying it didn't go "far enough,” than those who thought police went too far, at 32 percent. 

A breakdown of the Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that the shift in public opinion has occurred across demographics. A little more than half of rural residents and 7 out of 10 suburban residents expressed sympathy for protestors. A majority of both Republicans and Democrats said "they supported peaceful protests but believed property damage undermined the demonstrators’ cause." 

Meanwhile, 47 percent of Americans disagreed with the statement that police were doing a good job in response to the protests, and 43 percent agreed. Here, a majority of Democrats disagreed and a majority of Republicans agreed.

Published on Jun 03, 2020