As national conversations around Black Lives Matter and police brutality continue, young Americans report that their experiences with police vary widely depending on their race, according to the latest edition of the monthly GenForward survey, which was released Wednesday.
The August survey, which included 1750 young people aged 18-30, was conducted online and over the phone by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago and the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Young black and white people reported being stopped by police at roughly equal rates–75% of young black people surveyed said they have been stopped by police at some point, compared with 74% of white people. But 29% of black people said they had been arrested by police, compared with just 15% of white people.
And when asked about police brutality, 24% of young black Americans said they have personally experienced harassment or violence at the hands of police officers. That's in comparison to 16% for young Latinxs, 8% for white people and 4% for Asians. More than half of young black people also said they know someone who has experienced police harassment, compared to 35% of Latinxs, 26% of Asian Americans and 22% of white Americans.
"In short, young African Americans have distinctly negative experiences with police officers, including being arrested and experiencing harassment and violence by police at much higher rates than other racial and ethnic groups," the authors of the GenForward survey write, with the caveat that these figures represent self-reporting of interactions with the police, not official data on how many people of different races are arrested.
That discrepancy may have an impact on levels of trust in police and opinions on police reform strategies.
Among the young white people the Black Youth Project surveyed, 73% said they always or often trust police to do what is right, and 80% said they believe police in their neighborhood are there to protect them. That's in stark contrast to the mere 26% of young black people who said they always or often trust police to do the right thing, with 48% saying they believe police in their neighborhood are there to protect them.
Asian American and Latinx youth landed somewhere between black and white youth on both issues: 50% of Asian Americans and 48% of Latinxs said they always or often trust police, and 74% of Asian Americans and 66% of Latinxs said they believed the police were there to protect them in their neighborhoods.
The project then asked respondents about possible solutions to prevent police violence and discrimination. Police body cameras, which have increasingly been implemented in police departments over the past year as departments come under greater scrutiny, received support from young people across races (62% of black people and 71% of white, Latinx and Asian American people), despite evidence that body cams don't always lead to reduced rates of police brutality or more openly accessible records of police conduct.
The proposals with the lowest rates of support from every group were putting police under supervision of community-accountable boards and adopting community policing, a strategy that involves locals getting to know who their neighborhood officers are and giving officers non-patrol time that's dedicated to getting to know people in the community. Young Asian Americans were most in favor of community policing, at 57%, while 53% of white people, 51% of black people and just 47% of Latinxs thought it could work.
That's in line with criticism from community groups in cities like New York, where retiring police commissioner Bill Bratton has set in motion an expansion of community policing as a cornerstone of the department's policies. Critics say the policy is mostly about improving the appearance of police-community relations, not holding officers more accountable for their actions.
“They’re really good at branding," New York activist Josmar Trujillo told me last month. In the 1990s, community policing was all the rage. It’s just the latest name they throw on it to make it sound like they’re not killing people or arresting or terrorizing people. It’s long been the case that community policing is a vague notion that’s little less than public relations.”
The GenForward survey asked respondents about policing and immigration in this month's survey particularly because they've been recurring issues in the 2016 elections.
When it comes to immigration, the poll found that most young people don't support Donald Trump's proposal to deport all undocumented immigrants: 63% of young black people, 69% of young Asian Americans, 80% of young Latinxs, and 53% of young white people oppose that policy.
"The issues of policing and immigration are now front and center in American political discourse," the report authors write. "Donald Trump’s campaign in particular has emphasized both issues and has tried to mobilize worries—especially the worries of whites—about attacks against police and dissatisfaction with the immigration system. Hillary Clinton’s campaign hopes to mobilize support around both issues particularly from the African American and Latino/a communities, respectively."