April V. Taylor
A new HuffPost/You Gov poll shows that nearly half of black Americans, four out of ten to be exact, feel that police relationships with the black community have worsened over the course of the last two decades. Further underscoring the sad state of affairs between police and black people is the fact that only a third of blacks feel that the relationship has improved in the last fifty years.
It appears as though it is not just blacks who see an issue with police relationships in the black community; the poll found that less than one-third of all Americans believe that the situation between blacks and police has improved in the last twenty years. Further underscoring the fact that all Americans see an obvious issue is that more than half of those polled feel that police in most big cities are more aggressive towards blacks than whites.
The poll was conducted within days of the murder of unarmed teen Michael Brown by a police officer in broad daylight in Ferguson, Missouri. U.S. Representative John Lewis, who participated in multiple protests during the Civil Rights Movement including the Freedom Rides, has pointed out that the clashes between police and protesters in Ferguson is reminiscent of the confrontations that took place between activists and police during the Civil Rights Movement.
Statistics published by USA Today point out just how prevalent racial disparities are in the policing activities in Ferguson, where Michael Brown was murdered. Despite the city being nearly 70 percent black, only three of 53 officers are black. In addition, black people account for the majority of arrests in Ferguson, with 86 percent of vehicle stops and 93 percent of arrests made from those stops being black people. The fact that the demographics of many municipalities is not reflected in the racial makeup of police departments and the fact that blacks are targeted more often for stops and arrests are major components in making the relationship between police and black people a regressive state of affairs.