There is a defined racial divide in America between how whites and non-whites view police and the criminal justice system, according to a CNN / ORC poll released Monday.
More than half of white Americans – 57% – think none or almost none of the police in their area are prejudiced against blacks. Just one quarter of non-white Americans feel the same way.
The survey, which was mostly conducted before the shooting of NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in New York over the weekend, found similar results on perceptions of the justice system as a whole. While 41% of Americans say the criminal justice system treats blacks fairly, far more whites – 50% – see equity. Among non-whites, that figure drops to just 21%. Two-thirds of non-whites said that the criminal justice system favors whites over blacks.
The CNN / ORC survey offers a statistical explanation of the national racial drama that has unfolded in cities over the past several months, with nation-wide protests over the killing by police of an unarmed black man in Ferguson, Missouri and New York. It reignited over the weekend with the revenge-killing of two New York City policemen.
Americans see racism in the justice system, but they do think the problem can be fixed; 53% of whites and 50% of non-whites say racism will not always be a problem in the United States.
The CNN / ORC poll is based on interviews with 1,011 adult Americans, including 748 whites and 263 non-whites. It was conducted December 18-21, 2014.