Majority of Americans Have 'Unfavorable View' of Black Lives Matter, Say Black Crime Is a Top Concern

The civil rights activist group Black Lives Matter was first thrust into the public consciousness in 2012, during its first protest following the killing of a 17-year-old unarmed African-American, Trayvon Martin, who was walking home from a convenience store with a bag of Skittles and a drink when he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a white man.

During his trial, Zimmerman cried self-defense, claiming he fired his weapon only after being attacked by Martin, and he skated past murder charges. The verdict sparked outrage and a national race debate in part powered by the creators of Black Lives Matter, after which the nonprofit organization would become synonymous with protesting the wrongful deaths of unarmed black people, especially those shot and killed by non-black police officers.

Despite BLM’s efforts to bring awareness to the plight of being black in America, as well as advocating for social justice for minorities, the group has faced strong opposition from law enforcement and race-related support groups like Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter. In fact, the overall tone toward BLM, which aims to bring an end to the oppression experienced by African-Americans, is unfavorable, according to a new poll.

The Harvard-Harris survey, released Monday, found only 43 percent of voters have a positive view of BLM, while more than half of voters—some 57 percent—have an “unfavorable view” of the organization.

Not all that surprisingly, a majority of those who are opposed to the group are white. Only 35 percent of whites feel “favorable” toward BLM, compared to 65 percent who have a negative view of the group. As for black voters, 83 percent feel positively toward BLM, while only 17 percent don’t.

In regard to partisanship, support among Republicans was the lowest—21 percent—and only 18 percent of Republicans who voted for Trump have a favorable view of BLM. Sixty-five percent of Democrats feel positively toward BLM and 66 percent of Democrats who voted for presidential nominee Hillary Clinton favor the group.

Although instances of police brutality against black people, including the shooting deaths of a number of unarmed black men, have received a high volume of national attention in recent years, Americans in general don’t believe police violence toward African-Americans is the biggest problem in today’s society. Seventy percent of voters said black-on-black crime in African-American communities is a bigger issue, while 30 percent feel police violence against African-Americans is a bigger issue.

A majority of Americans do believe police are too quick to use aggressive force—56 percent—and 64 percent agree that race played a role in the use of aggressive force. However, 44 percent of voters feel cops only use force when necessary, and 36 percent believe race isn’t a factor in the use of force.

Fifty-four percent of voters think police are too quick to draw their weapons and shoot at African-Americans, while 46 percent feel police engage with people of all races about the same.

So far in 2017, 581 people have been shot and killed by police officers, according to The Washington Post’s Fatal Force Tracker. Of those killed, 127 were black while 241 were white. Last year, 963 people were shot and killed by cops, 465 of whom were white and 233 black.

More than 323 million people live in the U.S., and only 13 percent of them are black. Whites make up 76.9 percent of the population. Meanwhile, over 2.3 million U.S. residents are currently serving sentences in prisons and jails. Forty percent of those people are black, according to criminal justice nonprofit Prison Policy Initiative, while 39 percent are white.