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CNN Today

Gallup Poll: Racial Divide Between White, Black Attitudes Toward Police Widened

Aired February 28, 2000 - 1:04 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: The shock waves are still being felt from Friday's acquittals of the New York City police officers who shot and killed an unarmed man on his own doorstep. More than 1,000 protesters rallied outside the United Nations yesterday, claiming Amadou Diallo was killed and then forgotten because he was black and the officers are white. Former New York Mayor David Dinkins and U.S. Congressman Charles Rangel were among those taking part.

Back in Albany, one of the jurors says the panel made the only decision it could make based on the law and the judge's instructions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HELEN HARDER, DIALLO CASE JUROR: Well, I feel they should have been acquitted because the prosecution did not prove the case.

I think these young men had responsibility, but whatever they did was within the guidelines of New York state law. Diallo family is going for a civil charge, and I'm happy about that. Hopefully, they will stick it to them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: Federal prosecutors are also said to be looking at the case for possible violations of civil rights laws.

The Diallo jury forewoman, herself an African-American, is quoted as saying the case "had nothing to do with race." Yet, there's a definite racial divide among the U.S. population in general when it comes to attitudes toward police.

Frank Newport joins us now from the Gallup studio in Princeton, New Jersey, with the results of his latest polling on this -- Frank.

FRANK NEWPORT, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, GALLUP POLL: Natalie, indeed, that's one of our most robust social scientific findings are that blacks and whites look at the world differently when it comes to matters of discrimination and, as you mentioned, particularly matters relating to police.

Let's show you our ongoing Gallup Poll social audit has now been going on for three years since 1997. And we can give you a feel for where those data come in. We have, first, the perceptions of blacks' treatment by police. And these lines represent the percent of whites, the top line in blacks, the bottom line who say that: Yes, blacks are treated fairly by police. And, as you can see, whites are somewhat more, 59 percent, likely than blacks to say that, indeed, blacks are treated fairly. Only about 30 percent of white -- blacks -- and that's the significant number -- only 30 percent -- 31 percent of blacks think they are treated fairly by police in their local communities. You can see here evidence of some disparity between white and black perceptions.

Now, what about actual incidents with police? Well, we asked black respondents across the country: Have you, yourself, within the last 30 days been treated unfairly by police? Fifteen, 16, and then in our last survey as of late last Fall, about 20 percent of blacks, say: Yes. One out of five, in other words, within the last 30 days say: Yes, that's occurred.

Another question we asked is your basic opinion of local police. Now, over here on the right that represents black Americans. And, as you can see, 58 percent have a favorable opinion of their local police, which is not a majority at any rate. But compare that to whites, where it's 85 percent further evidence of this discrepancy.

Finally, in a more general sense, we asked the question: Just in general, are blacks treated the same as whites in their local community? Here, over the last three years, whites consistently, three-quarters of them, say: Yes, yes, yes. You can see, actually, our percent of blacks who say "yes" to that has gone down. The gap is actually widening in our most recent survey. A little more than a third black Americans say they are treated the same as whites in their community. Again, evidence of the significant gap that you mentioned, Natalie, between the perceptions of white and black Americans.

That's where we are, back to you, Natalie, in Atlanta.

ALLEN: All right, Frank Newport, thanks.

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