Steve Silverman, [email protected]
A majority of black, as well as white, Americans report that racial profiling is widespread in the United States today, according to a recent Gallup poll.
Respondents were provided with the following neutral description of the practice: "It has been reported that some police officers stop motorists of certain racial or ethnic groups because the officers believe that these groups are more likely than others to commit certain types of crimes." They were then asked if they believe the practice to be widespread.
The poll reveals that 59% of the sample of 2,006 people (including 1,001 blacks) believe that the practice of racial profiling is widespread. But when the respondents are sorted by race, we see significant differences. 56% of whites perceive the practice to be widespread, compared to a staggering 77% of blacks.
Other questions explored the respondents' personal experiences with police. Asked if they ever felt that the police stopped them just because of their race or ethnic background, 42% of blacks believe they have. And among this 42%, about six out of ten believe they were stopped more than three times because of their race, including 15% who say it has happened eleven or more times.
The most distressing numbers are reported by young black men aged 18-34. Of these men, 72% feel that police have pulled them over because of their race. Blacks with higher incomes and more education did not, however, appear less likely to be pulled over.
The poll also revealed that black people, of all ages, have significantly less favorable opinions of their local and state police than do whites.
Further info on the Gallup racial profiling poll is online at http://www.gallup.com/poll/releases/pr991209.asp. For further information and action items on profiling, visit the ACLU web site at http://www.aclu.org/profiling/.