By Charles D. Ellison, theRoot.com

The results are in: A majority of Americans think the Baltimore unrest was just another mad, black riot. The Pew Research Center surveyed the top five reasons an anxious public considered for the unrest, including anger over Freddie Gray’s death, frustration with police-community relations and the socioeconomic challenges. The poverty narrative didn’t stick, with 61 percent believing that “people were taking advantage of the situation to engage in criminal behavior.”

Demonstrators in Baltimor climb on a destroyed police car on April 27, 2915.

Demonstrators in Baltimore climb on a destroyed police car on April 27, 2915.

As expected, those attitudes differ sharply by race, with 50 percent of blacks blaming poverty as the reason, compared with 40 percent of whites (interestingly enough, a majority of African Americans—54 percent—also viewed the unrest as “criminal”). There’s also a nearly 10-point gap between whites and blacks when comparing perceptions on police-community relations: Most African Americans, 65 percent, believe that “tensions between the black community and police” contributed to the unrest, while just 56 percent of whites did. Instead, 66 percent of whites support the notion that it was just one more “wile out” in the hood.

These numbers are significant because they help in our routine evaluation of America on race, police conduct and a #BlackLivesMatter movement trying to find itself ahead of the next election. Polls help us put these experiences into context, especially as we struggle to understand the post-Baltimore public mood…

A just-released Public Religion Research Institute survey finds that there is massive disagreement between blacks (17 percent) and whites (46 percent) on whether people of color receive “equal treatment in the criminal-justice system.” But that is far fewer whites who agree that blacks get fair treatment than the 62 percent who believed it in the late ’90s.

Still, only 49 percent of whites, according to the Public Religion poll, think Freddie Gray’s death was part of a broader pattern of vicious anti-black police treatment, compared with 74 percent of blacks who do…

…America, for the most part, may not be as sympathetic to the broader discussion on poverty, as well as the criminal-justice challenges resulting from it. Most whites, especially, don’t want to hear it. Brothers smashing police cars on infinite news loops didn’t help the cause, either, and there’s a larger concern that both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates in the next election cycle will sidestep systemic issues in favor of coddling white fear. Most polled (96 percent in the NBC/WSJ survey) are more worried about bracing for a long, hot summer of urban unrest than they are about finding solutions to prevent that from happening in the first place.

Read the full article here.

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