Amid Oregon Protests, Third of Citizens Want to Defund the Police: Poll

In the midst of clashes between protesters and federal police in Portland, Oregonians are showing growing support for the Black Lives Matter movement, while nearly a third say they support defunding the police, a new poll has found.

In a statewide survey conducted between July 14 and 22 by Portland-based pollster DHM Research and the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center, more than two-thirds (66 percent) of the 603 Oregonians said they supported the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

The share of supporters marks a significant increase from 2018, when a poll conducted by the same company found support for BLM among just over half (54 percent) of Oregonians.

According to the poll's findings, support for the BLM movement was highest among Democrats, Portland residents and 18- to 29-year-olds in the state.

In addition to finding growing support for the BLM movement, the poll also found backing for the idea of the defunding the police, with 31 percent of respondents saying they believe police reform has, so far, been ineffective and that defunding police is the best way forward.

A larger share of people (39 percent), however, said they believed that police reform could be the solution to addressing issues around police brutality and systemic racism in law enforcement departments.

Meanwhile, a fifth of those surveyed said they believed police departments do not need reform.

A majority of Oregonians, however, were in favor of cutting some police funding and shifting the money to social services, an idea that has been put forward by those looking to reform law enforcement.

Among those polled, 57 percent expressed support for the idea of cutting funding for police departments.

Oregonians were also split on whether or not tear gas and less-lethal munitions should be allowed to be used by police, with both being deployed against protesters by federal police in Portland.

Among those polled, 50 percent said they believed the use of tear gas and less-lethal munitions should be banned, with the percentage growing to 55 percent among those in the Portland metro area.

Racial injustice, the poll found, was the second-most important issue that Oregonians wanted to see addressed by government officials.

The issue came second only to the coronavirus pandemic, which participants said was the top issue they would like to see elected officials focus on.

People gather in protest in front of the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse in downtown Portland as the city experiences another night of unrest on July 28, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. Spencer Platt/Getty