PRINCETON, NJ -- Almost one in four black men under age 35, 24%, say the police have treated them unfairly during the last 30 days. Among blacks, this percentage drops to as low as 10% among women 55 and older.
These results are based on Gallup's Minority Rights and Relations poll, conducted June 13-July 5 with 4,373 U.S. adults. The survey included interviews with 1,010 non-Hispanic blacks.
The George Zimmerman verdict in the case relating to the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida has raised the issue of racial profiling, and the relationship between young black men, such as Martin, and the police. Some critics of the verdict say Martin's death -- although it was at the hands of a neighborhood watch official, not a police officer -- was symptomatic of the way in which young black men are profiled.
Black males under age 35 are slightly more likely than black males 35 to 54, and significantly more likely than black men 55 and older, to say the police have treated them unfairly. A comparable question asked of Hispanics in the same survey showed that 13% of Hispanic males under the age of 35 said the police had treated them unfairly within the last 30 days.
Blacks' Perceptions of Unfair Treatment by Police Down This Year
Overall, 17% of black adults say the police treated them unfairly within the 30 days prior to the interview. That number is down from Gallup's measures of the question between 1999 and 2007, including the high point in 2004, when 25% of all blacks said they had been treated unfairly within the past month. In 1997 and 1998, the first two years Gallup asked the question, 15% and 16% of blacks, respectively, said they had been treated unfairly by police.
Blacks Most Likely to Perceive Discrimination While Shopping
The question asking about unfair treatment by police was one of five situations measured in the survey. Shopping appears to be the most troublesome for blacks among these five situations, with 24% saying they have been treated unfairly in this context. Additionally, about as many blacks say they have been treated unfairly in a restaurant or theater (16%) and at their place of work (15%) as say they have been treated unfairly by police. Blacks are least likely to say they have been treated unfairly while getting healthcare (9%).
Still, while unfair treatment by police is not at the top of the list among all blacks, it is the No. 1 unfair treatment situation among younger black men. In fact, the 24% of young black males who say they have been treated unfairly by police is seven percentage points higher than the 17% of all blacks who say this. On the other hand:
- Young black males' perceptions of being treated unfairly while getting healthcare and while shopping are below the overall average for blacks.
- Their views of being treated unfairly in a restaurant are the same as the overall average for blacks.
- Their views of being treated unfairly at work are just two points higher than the overall average for blacks.
One in four black males between the ages of 18 and 34 say they have been treated unfairly by police within the last month. This underscores the complaints of some who are protesting the Zimmerman verdict by arguing that the case and its outcome reflect a pervasive set of discriminatory practices in U.S. law enforcement.
The self-reported incidence of such complaints by blacks of all ages is, on the other hand, lower now than it has been in recent years, suggesting some positive change in this ongoing component of U.S. race relations -- at least before the verdict in the Martin case was announced.
Results are based on telephone interviews conducted June 13-July 5, 2013 with 4,373 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, including oversamples of black and Hispanic adults. All respondents had previously been interviewed in the Gallup Daily tracking survey. The total sample is weighted to represent racial and ethnic groups proportionately to their share of the U.S. population. For results based on this sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of error is ±2 percentage points.
For results based on sample of 1,010 non-Hispanic blacks, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points.
For results based on sample of 1,000 Hispanics, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±6 percentage points. (332 out of the 1,000 interviews with Hispanics were conducted in Spanish.)
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking.
Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, non-response, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cell phone-only/landline only/both and cell phone mostly). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.