60% of Republicans Believe George Floyd's Death Was 'Isolated Incident'

Amid the nationwide police reform protests that have followed the May 25 killing of black Minneapolis resident George Floyd by a white police officer, a new poll has revealed that 60 percent of Republican voters believe Floyd's death was an "isolated incident" rather than part of a larger pattern of anti-black police violence.

The poll shows Republicans as being at odds with Democrats, Independents and the general voting public as 83 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of both Independents and overall voters consider Floyd's death as an indication of systemic racism in policing.

While responses to the same question differed amongst different races, a majority among all races saw Floyd's death as part of a larger pattern, including 71 percent of hispanic voters, 86 percent of black voters and 57 percent of white voters.

The poll, which was conducted by the Washington, D.C. political newspaper The Hill and the market research company HarrisX, asked questions of 2,834 registered voters online between June 12 and 14.

"It's really two separate Americas right now," Mallory Newall, Director of Research at Ipsos, told Hill.TV. "There's just a huge gap in your views on racial inequality and police treatment of people of color, especially black Americans, depending on your political affiliation."

George Floyd systemic racism police
A portrait of George Floyd hangs on a street light pole as police officers stand guard at the Third Police Precinct during a face off with a group of protesters on May 27, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The station has become the site of an ongoing protest after the police killing of George Floyd. Four Minneapolis police officers have been fired after a video taken by a bystander was posted on social media showing Floyd's neck being pinned to the ground by an officer as he repeatedly said, "I can’t breathe". Floyd was later pronounced dead while in police custody after being transported to Hennepin County Medical Center. Stephen Maturen/Getty

The poll's partisan results reflect the different responses the federal Republicans and Democrats have had to the ongoing racial justice protests.

Republican President Donald Trump's executive order, issued on June 16, aims to establish a system for public filing of excessive force complaints against officers, a ban of police chokeholds (except in life-threatening situations) and additional training for police, especially those who interact with homeless people and those in mental health crises.

But the Democratic and Republican police reform bills differ in their approaches to the issue.

The Democrats' House bill, led by the Congressional Black Caucus, bans all chokeholds, no-knock warrants for drug cases and qualified immunity, the legal principle that protects police against civil excessive force and misconduct charges. The bill also limits the federal sale of military-grade equipment to local law enforcement agencies, requires body and dashboard cameras for all police and creates a national registry for police misconduct.

The Republicans' Senate bill, led by black Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, would neither ban no-knock warrants nor qualified immunity. It would use federal funds to incentivize law enforcement agencies to acquire body cameras, create local police misconduct databases and ban chokeholds "except when deadly force is authorized."

The authors of a recent Yale University study on law enforcement officers re-hired after misconduct complaints said that the strong collective bargaining agreements of police unions often protect officers from being fired, punished or prosecuted after allegations of misconduct.