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Races have different views of the shooting in Missouri

August 19, 2014 - Andrea Johnson
Once again, blacks, whites and Hispanics have dramatically different points of view regarding the shooting of a black teenager.

Pew Research conducted a poll of 1,000 adults between Aug. 14-17 about the shooting of 18-year-old black teenager Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo.

Eighty percent of the black adults surveyed think the shooting raises important issues about race; 50 percent of Hispanics thought so and 37 percent of whites thought so. 47 percent of whites thought race as an issue was getting too much attention; 25 percent of Hispanics and 18 percent of blacks agreed. Sixty-five percent of the blacks surveyed thought the police had gone too far in its response to protests after the shooting; 33 percent of whites thought the same.

Republicans are less likely than Democrats to think the police overreacted. Forty three percent of Republicans think the police went too far; 20 percent said they went too far; 37 percent have no opinion. Fifty six percent of Democrats say the cops overreached; 21 percent of Democrats say the police reaction was bout right and 23 percent have no opinion.

The reaction to the shooting is being compared to last year's case involving the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, a volunteer neighborhood watchman.

Both cases involved teenagers who weren't armed when they were shot. However, the Ferguson police released a video surveillance tape appearing to show Brown stealing cigars and manhandling a store clerk just minutes before his confrontation with the police officer. The family of Michael Brown objects to that footage being released and say the police are trying to smear their son's memory. As the details emerge, we will probably have a better idea of what actually happened and whether the police officer should be charged with a crime.

What do you make of the shooting of Michael Brown and the ensuing protests and rioting in Ferguson?


Article Comments



Aug-29-14 9:38 AM

The problem is that you can't wish away cultural perceptions of racial differences or racism. I think those perceptions can change over time and people can consciously choose not to act on whatever prejudices they might hold, but they have to acknowledge them first.


Aug-29-14 8:10 AM

Just the word Race itself breeds competition which of course there are winners and losers in every competition. Sometimes you have to pull the weeds by the roots or they will never go away.


Aug-27-14 3:40 PM

To my knowledge, most states have laws on the books saying that if you use deadly force against someone, you are then required to render aid. Calling 911 is considered the minimum for fulfilling this requirement.

Aug-25-14 9:27 PM

What about the black police officer who shot a unarmed white male in Utah? I don't see outrage on this, and I don't blame the black officer. Al Sharpton is one of the worst racial individual. He stirs the pot. He is only looking out for himself. One other point I would like to say is why is it that the blacks seem to say quite frequently that they are always discriminated. One such incident a rental company went to this individuals apt to confiscated a 50 in tv he rented and hadn't paid anything for the rental. That individual who was white was told by this black individual that he was a racist. What is this person to do, do we just give the item for fear of being called racist. I am not one of my friends is black and he is a great person, very nice and a worker and I also have a NA who is also a very good friend


Aug-25-14 2:55 PM

The arming of SWAT teams was not in response to what happened in the North Hollywood shootout. SWAT teams, as we know them today, are another product of the 1960's, where it was thought that specialized units should be brought in to deal with armed revolutionary groups that arose during that time. SWAT was already a well-entrenched feature of American police culture by the late 1990's.

What happened during the North Hollywood shootout was the only police who actually engaged the bank robbers were regular patrol officers armed with little more than pistols. It wasonly when a quick-thinking policeman who went to a nearby gunshop and purchased what amount to deer hunting rifles that they finally made some progress against the robbers (one of whom killed himself when the battle turned against him, the other shot and killed by the police).


Aug-25-14 2:49 PM

The militarization of police started back in the 1960's, where police departments found themselves liable for police who went rogue against the wide variety of protests seen during that time. It was thought that introducing military-style discipline into officer training programs would minimize the risk of this.

But I suppose one cannot play with matches without igniting a massive conflagration. Introduce one trapping of the military and it appears that many more were to closely follow.


Aug-22-14 4:01 PM

Regarding the militarization of police, it's probably worth mentioning the North Hollywood, California bank robbery back in 1997 where the cops were outgunned by crooks with AK 47s and bulletproof vests. Eleven police officers and seven civilians were wounded before they finally killed the robbers. I still remember watching news reports about it on television. The arming of SWAT teams was in large part a response to that incident.

Cops are also not infrequently shot with their own weapons by unarmed suspects who have wrestled the gun away. I'm sure that came up in this police officer's training as well.


Aug-22-14 1:50 PM

What, specifically, do you think the law/law enforcement has been demonstrating disregard for people's rights?

I have heard a lot of allegations about the police unfairly arresting or harassing citizens. There is concern over the militarization of the police. On the other hand, the young man in question is seen on video apparently stealing cigars and roughing up a clerk. It was the job of the police to stop him and arrest him.


Aug-22-14 12:53 PM

"Without respect for the clear rule of law and for the rights of others, we have chaos"

But what happens when that very law now demonstrates disrespect for peoples' rights? That's chaos, too.


Aug-22-14 12:52 PM

"It will come down to whether a reasonable police officer under those circumstances would have also fired six shots and whether the young man had his hands up."

Yes, it will. And until then, everything we see and hear is just noise and distraction.


Aug-22-14 11:46 AM

Without respect for the clear rule of law and for the rights of others, we have chaos. None of us have the right to steal from others or to punch a police officer in the nose, for instance. The cop was also under no obligation to shoot to wound if he had reason to believe his life was in imminent danger. He had a right to defend himself. It will come down to whether a reasonable police officer under those circumstances would have also fired six shots and whether the young man had his hands up.


Aug-22-14 11:39 AM

Legally, he was an adult, but just barely, not that it matters much one way or the other if he was behaving in a threatening manner. He turned 18 in May. The shooting happened in the middle of the afternoon in broad daylight, not at night.

I think he clearly did break the law, probably several times that day. He may or may not have stolen from the store. He appears to have put his hands on either the clerk or a customer in the store and behaved in an intimidating manner, based on the video I have seen. The toxicology report said he had marijuana in his system, so he had probably been smoking pot, which is likely a misdemeanor in that jurisdiction. He and his friend were apparently walking down the middle of the street, probably violating a city ordinance. The police officer's face was swollen, so it looks like he committed assault on a police officer. Did any of that justify use of deadly force? I don't know.


Aug-22-14 11:34 AM

"Does anyone teach respect for the Police and the Law anymore?"

When the police and the law (and by extension, those who write the laws) learn respect for the People and their Negative Rights, THEN we can have this conversation.


Aug-22-14 11:33 AM

"High poverty and unemployment increases criminality in a population"

Strange that the United States were not in flames during the Great Depression...


Aug-22-14 11:28 AM

How does one define a KID these days?

At the time of his death, he was 6'4" (1.93m) tall and weighed 292 lb (132 kg).[3] = Wikipedia = 18year old.

The Cop would not know if he was underage and certainly not at night.

Does anyone teach respect for the Police and the Law anymore?


Aug-22-14 10:49 AM

== Continued ==

I do think there are differences in the way that minorities are treated by police and the way that whites are treated by police, for whatever reason. Sentencing laws are also unfair, particularly when it comes to drug crimes. High poverty and unemployment increases criminality in a population and both may be more common in areas like Ferguson, in part because of institutionalized racism. The police department sounds somewhat incompetent and their relationship with the community they serve is very bad. On the other hand, I don't doubt they've tried to recruit black police officers and have had a hard time filling those positions. Neighboring police departments offer better pay and black officers who are qualified are probably in pretty high demand.

I also would not want to live in a city like Ferguson. People tend to move to the safest, most attractive places they can and they like to live around friends and family.


Aug-22-14 10:42 AM

Apparently the cop did NOT have a busted eye socket, though his face was swollen after the incident.

I don't know what happened in this particular incident either. I have heard that cops are trained to shoot to kill, not to disarm, if a threat needs to be neutralized and that may have been a factor. If the cop had heard on the radio that there was a strong arm robbery and these fellows matched the description, maybe that's a factor. If the kid had reason to fear that he was being arrested for that robbery or perhaps for an assault, depending on what really happened in the store, maybe he was reacting to that.

It doesn't make much sense to me that the kid would keep going TOWARD a police officer who just shot him once. If he had his hands up and the cop kept shooting him, that would clearly be murder. If he didn't and the cop had just been beaten up by the kid, maybe he felt the boy remained a threat.


Aug-22-14 9:44 AM

Breaking News From Ferguson, MO

Just found out that, after several nights of rioting and looting, not one pair of work boots has been stolen!


Aug-22-14 9:27 AM

"What do you make of the shooting of Michael Brown and the ensuing protests and rioting in Ferguson?"

Here's what I make of it: of all the issues brought up in the aftermath of this incident, we'll not be able to adequately or satisfactorily address any of them until we as a society come to a proper understanding of Negative Rights and its implications on everything, including the role of the police in society.

I feel like if everyone had kept a proper perspective on Negative Rights, none of this would have happened in the first place.

Unfortunately, I was not there that fateful day when Brown and Wilson would become inextricably connected. I really have no idea who was in the right, the wrong, and if anybody overreacted.


Aug-21-14 10:19 AM

From what I've seen racism is geographical, and it depends on where you live and how you were brought up in regards to being racist. All things are learned somewhere.


Aug-21-14 12:22 AM

"Lots of questions for the grand jury to answer."



Aug-20-14 7:48 PM

I would be interested in seeing a complete toxicology report for the kid. Marijuana alone probably wouldn't make anyone aggressive. I also have to question why the kid would have kept coming toward the person who just shot him, which is the story that seems to have been coming from the police officer's supporters. Did he or didn't he have his hands in the air? Was the cop's eye socket busted and did he still have reason to be afraid for his life when he fired all six of the shots? Lots of questions for the grand jury to answer.


Aug-20-14 1:24 AM

The so-called "manhandling" was a straight-up robbery. I understand the media's trying to downplay it by referring to it as shoplifting, but shoplifting doesn't involve the use of force or intimidation.

That doesn't exonerate the cop, but it does shed some light on Brown's frame of mind at the time of the shooting.


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