Poll: Trust in Black Lives Matter Drops, Trust in Local Law Enforcement Rises

The protest movement that has sprung up around police violence and criminal justice reform first spread like wildfire online, which researchers say allowed activists  to circumvent traditional new media to get their message

The results of a USA Today/Ipsos Poll show that trust in the Black Lives Matter movement has dropped while trust in local law enforcement has risen since last summer’s mass riots.

The data is interesting but ultimately not surprising. Much of the public reaction following the death of George Floyd and the subsequent riots overwhelmingly favored BLM, but media obfuscation and the conformist tendencies of human nature played a significant role in that.

Now that the dust has long settled and the trial of Derek Chauvin is about to begin, the USA Today poll has revealed that blacks and whites have diametric views on Chauvin’s actions and broader racial issues.

60 percent of Americans last June described George Floyd’s death as murder—that figure has since plummeted to 36 percent. Corresponding to that is a fourfold increase in the number of people who say they don’t know how to describe the video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd. Roughly the same number of people as last year think that Chauvin was negligent, while there’s been a notable uptick in the number of people who think he did nothing wrong.

As for the racial breakdown, 64 percent of blacks think Floyd was murdered while only 28 percent of whites think that. Whites are also twice as likely to characterize Chauvin’s actions as negligent.

Both a majority of whites and blacks agree that Chauvin ought to be convicted on some charge, though only a narrow majority of whites (54 percent). The majority of blacks who want Chauvin convicted is much greater (76 percent).

When asked last June how much they trusted the Black Lives Matter movement and local law enforcement to “promote justice and equal treatment for people of all races,” 60 percent of respondents said they trusted BLM and 56 percent said local police. But these attitudes have greatly shifted. Now only 50 percent of respondents say they trust BLM and 69 percent the local police.

It is important to note that both blacks and whites trust BLM less and local police more. Trust in BLM dropped 12 percentage points among blacks and 8 points among whites, though it’s always been the case that fewer whites trust BLM than blacks. Trust in local police, however, rose 14 points among blacks and 12 points among whites.

In related news, Google Trends shows that interest in the search term “Black Lives Matter” is virtually nonexistent compared to late May and early June of 2020. Interest began plummeting in mid-June and dropped off by autumn. A similar spike and plummet happened around June 2016—surprise, surprise!—but the popularity of the “Black Lives Matter” search term was three-quarters less popular in early June 2016 than it was in early June 2020.

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