More African-Americans fear victimization by police than fear violent crime

March 15, 2019, 6:30 PM GMT+0

78% of Black Americans see deaths of African-Americans during encounters with police in recent years as part of a larger problem, not isolated incidents

African-Americans are more likely to be very worried that they or someone in their families will be a victim of police using deadly force than they are to be very worried about becoming a victim of violent crime, according to the latest Economist/YouGov poll. Black (63%) fear of police violence is greater than white (21%) fear; there is much less difference when it comes to worry about violent crime in general (52% of black people and 50% of white people are worried about this).

Reports about police shootings of unarmed African-Americans have frequently been in the news, most recently the announcement that the officers involved in the Sacramento shooting of Stephon Clark will not be charged.

Black Americans appear to be more worried than whites about crime. They are the most likely group to believe that crime in general is a very serious problem nationally: just about half say that crime has increased in the country in the last year. 38% say it has gone up in their own communities.

Among white Americans, fear of crime is greatest among those 65 and older.

Consequently, despite their concern about police violence, when given the option black Americans want more (31%) police presence in their communities as opposed to less (15%). Many may be fearful of potential injury by police, but there is also concern about crime.

Overall, white and black opinion on this question are not much different. However, whites who identify as Republicans (46%) are especially in favor of a greater police presence.

Most black Americans regard the deaths of African-Americans during encounters with the police not as isolated incidents; more than three in four (78%) black respondents say they are signs of a broader police problem. A majority (55%) of white people agree with them. But those answers differ, depending on politics. White Democrats and independents believe there is a broader police problem; most white Republicans do not.

Americans are split when it comes to demonstrations and protests that often follow the deaths of African-Americans. While 62% say that these movements are motivated by a desire to hold the police accountable, more (65%) see protests as evidence of longstanding bias against the police.

See full toplines and tables results here.

Image: Getty