On Memorial Day 2020, George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer named Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd's neck for several minutes, even as Floyd told Chauvin that he could not breathe. Floyd’s murder set off protests across the country around police conduct toward Black Americans, and it reopened conversations about racism in the United States.
Last month, Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder for Floyd’s death. But the latest Economist/YouGov poll suggests that the verdict — and a year of protests — did not do much to change views of the relations between Black Americans and the police. Though most Americans overall today describe the relationship between minorities and the police as bad (59%) rather than good (41%), that is especially true among Black Americans.
Nearly three in four Black Americans (72%) say police relations with minorities are generally bad, as opposed to good (28%).
When looking at change in the year since George Floyd’s death, only one in nine Americans (11%) believe there has been an improvement in police-minority relations. Even fewer Black Americans (7%) think things have gotten better. The most pessimistic are Republicans, half of whom (50%) believe relations between minorities and the police have deteriorated since Floyd’s death.
Chauvin was found guilty on all counts, with the second-degree murder conviction the most serious of the charges. There is general agreement about the jury decision. Two in three Americans (65%) agree with the guilty verdict. Nearly two-thirds of white Americans (63%) agree with the Chauvin guilty verdict, compared to 65% of Hispanic Americans and 73% of Black Americans.
The public also agrees (49% approve, 38% disapprove), though by a smaller margin, that the city of Minneapolis was correct in paying a $27 million settlement to Floyd’s family, though both questions indicate racial and partisan differences in opinion. White Americans are evenly divided when it comes to the Minneapolis-Floyd family settlement (44% approve, 44% disapprove). Three in five Black Americans (62%) and most Hispanic Americans (58%) approve of the settlement payment.
Republicans are particularly negative about both results, narrowly objecting to the guilty verdict (42% agree, 46% disagree) and overwhelmingly opposing the settlement (21% approve, 70% disapprove). Independents, who agree with the trial verdict (66% vs 23%), are closely divided on the settlement, though more favor it (46%) than oppose it (42%).
Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US Adult Citizens interviewed online between May 15 - 18, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 2.7% for the overall sample.