A new poll shows a decline in support among Americans for the Black Lives Matter movement, a year and a half after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other high-profile deaths of Black people in encounters with police sparked a global outcry.
According to a national poll conducted by Civiqs, a nonpartisan online survey firm affiliated with the progressive media group Daily Kos, 44 percent of respondents said they oppose the Black Lives Matter movement. Another 43 percent said they support it, while 11 percent said they neither support nor oppose it. The survey has tracked respondent’s viewpoints at multiple moments from April 2017 to this month.
According to the poll, support for the Black Lives Matter movement peaked in June 2020 at 52 percent, a month after the Floyd killing. During the height of the movement, protesters marched in cities across the country to express their outrage at Floyd’s death, which was seen by millions via disturbing video displaying Floyd losing consciousness as a white police officer kneeled on his neck for almost 10 minutes.
Since then, public opposition to BLM has risen following the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by police officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2020, and the conviction in April of Derek Chauvin in the murder of Floyd.
While 82 percent of the respondents in support of Black Lives Matter in the most recent poll were Black, more than half of those in opposition were white, reflecting a pattern of public opinion when it comes to racial justice movements, said Vida Robertson, director of the Center for Critical Race Studies at the University of Houston.
Robertson said the survey’s findings reveal the historical phenomenon that the nation has seen when it comes to the liberatory struggles of Black Americans and civil rights movements, from the Harlem Renaissance to the Black Power movement.
“These polls are quite representative of America’s approach,” Robertson said. “There’s no historical evidence whatsoever that America has ever been interested in Black liberation and building an equitable society. We are simply coming to grips with our romantic ideals that are running up against our political realities. And the fact stands that America has constantly, and will constantly struggle with the liberation of Black bodies, because we are endemically a racist society.”
Founded in 2013 after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of a Black teenager, Trayvon Martin, Black Lives Matter began as a hashtag and grew into a global organization. In a previous interview with NBCBLK, Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, said that her organization has been adapting its focus toward more structural reforms.
Robertson said he believes far more people became aware of issues affecting the Black community, such as police brutality, during the Covid-19 pandemic, which allowed for the nation to focus on problems that would otherwise have been ignored. However, as the pandemic shifts, so has support for movements like Black Lives Matter.
“Our country is simply going back to default,” Robertson said. “Our job is to reconstruct the game, so that we can actually move beyond winning them over to becoming the American Dream that we longed for.”
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