Jacob Blake shooting increased support for nationwide protests, report finds

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The police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., late last month boosted support for the Black Lives Matter movement and accompanying protests that have taken place across the country this summer, according to a new report.

The finding was published Tuesday by public relations firm Edelman, which has been tracking the country’s temperature amid national dialogue over the death of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis police custody in late May.

On June 7, almost two weeks after Floyd was killed, 63 percent of those surveyed in a poll conducted by the public relations firm said that they were either very or extremely concerned about systemic racism in the U.S. More than two months later, on Aug. 21, the number had dropped to 45 percent.

However, the figure rose again days later following the Aug. 23 police shooting of Blake, who was shot multiple times in the back at close range by a Kenosha officer, critically wounding him.

When Edelman asked the question again just over a week after the incident, 54 percent said that they were either very or extremely concerned about systemic racism.

Moreover, 57 percent of respondents on Aug. 31 said that they supported the “current nationwide protests and demonstrations against systemic racism and racial injustice,” an increase of 9 points from the previous week.

“Some people have to see this,” Lisa Ross, chief operating officer of Edelman’s U.S. operations, said during a teleconference call Wednesday. The call was a panel discussion that featured Ross, MSNBC’s Joy Reid and former Obama White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.

“What we saw with the response for the murder of George Floyd, people were really escalated, they were very upset and then … we saw a drop, exponentially, even when the protests were happening, but we weren’t showing another case,” Ross explained. “As soon as Jacob Blake was maimed, it shot back up.”

“We shouldn’t have to continue to see Black people die at the hands of cops to reinforce this movement,” Jarrett added.

According to the poll, the biggest spike in recognition of systemic racism and support for Black Lives Matter protests after the Blake shooting came from Republicans, though support increased almost across the board.

Overall, 58 percent of respondents on Aug. 31 said that they supported the Black Lives Matter movement.

Although this isn’t the first poll to find that the majority of Americans are still in support of the resurgent movement, it has still become a polarized issue.

President Trump and his allies have taken a hard-line stance against the demonstrations, pointing to instances of protests devolving into looting or clashes with law enforcement.

The administration sent federal officers into protesting cities such as Portland, Ore., and Chicago, with numerous instances of demonstrators later clashing with federal agents.

The movement has also been labeled as a political statement of the “radical left” by GOP lawmakers and commentators.

Reid said that how the media has portrayed this summer’s events has negatively affected the movement.

“I’ve been very frustrated in watching the coverage of the protests,” Reid said, adding that Floyd situation “was very clear to everyone because there was an 8-minute, 46-second video of this man being killed on camera, so no one could question it.”

She added: “However, when the protests about George Floyd happened, there was also video of people marching. There was plenty of video available of people peacefully marching down the street and people didn’t use it. I’m constantly asking my team, ‘give me video of protests.’ I’m not interested in video at night when all of the Black Lives Matter people have gone home and random people have [shown] up and started burning things, that’s not the protest.”

In the Aug. 31 survey, 62 percent of respondents agreed that the “news media focuses far too much on the rioting and not enough on the peaceful protests,” and 54 percent said the media has lacked “sufficient focus” on “underlying issues that sparked the current protests against racial injustice.”

The surveys of 2,000 U.S. residents have an overall margin of error of 2.2 percentage points

Tags Black Lives Matter Blake shooting Donald Trump Edelman Edelman Floyd killing Floyd protests Jacob Blake protests Joy Reid kenosha Kenosha Lisa Ross Valerie Jarrett Wisconsin
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