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Public opinion hardens against Ferguson protesters, swings in favor of law enforcement: Survey

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Missouri,Race and Diversity,Becket Adams,Ferguson

For a brief moment last week, there appeared to be an agreement that the law enforcement response to protests in Ferguson, Mo., was far too heavy-handed, prompting critics on both sides of the aisle to wonder whether the militarization of the police had gone too far.

However, continued looting and rioting by demonstrators upset over the shooting death of 18-year-old Ferguson resident Mike Brown, who was reportedly unarmed when he was killed, along with the media's frantic, breathless coverage of the protests, has apparently tilted public opinion slightly in favor of the law, according to a new report from YouGov.

“Views of the police reaction to protests in Ferguson, Mo., have become more favorable since last week, but views on the subject have become even more racially polarized,” the report notes.

The survey, which was conducted from Aug. 20-21 and polled 991 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, shows that roughly 40 percent of Americans believe the police reaction to the protests has been reasonable, while 33 percent of respondents disagree.

This is a marked change from last week, when YouGov data showed that only 32 percent of respondents said that the police had responded “reasonably,” while 33 percent said that it was “unreasonable.”


More telling is the fact that the new survey shows that 56 percent of respondents now say that the protesters have behaved unreasonably, while only 27 percent say otherwise.

Last week's data showed something different: Forty-five percent of respondents said that protesters were being unreasonable, while roughly 25 percent said that they were being reasonable.


“This week’s survey suggests views opinions about Ferguson, in particular the police reaction to the protests there, have become even more racially polarized: 63 percent of blacks in the survey say the police reaction has been 'unreasonable,' up from 48 percent the previous week,” YouGov reported. “At the same time the number of whites who take the opposite view —that the police have been reasonable — has increased from 34 percent to 45 percent.”

“Due to the small size of the sample used for blacks (115, unweighted, in the latest survey), the margin for error for that group is much larger than it is for the general public, but the large swing towards 'unreasonable' makes it very unlikely that opinions of the Ferguson police have softened, and, either way, the shift among whites (a much larger group) is nearly as large,” the report added.

So instead of finally having a larger discussion on the topic of the militarization of the police, looters and rioters appear to have swung public opinion in favor of law enforcement and away from the people.

As I have said before, the demonstrators in Ferguson have caused that community and the nation a great deal of harm. The protesters, many who reportedly aren't even from the small Missouri city, had a chance to do something great and disprove the statists, but they failed spectacularly. And all for some cheap shoplifted goods.

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