More than half of black millennials say they have either experienced police harassment or violence, or they know someone who has, according to a study released Wednesday.
The survey, first reported by the Associated Press, asked “Have you or anyone you know experienced harassment or violence at the hands of the police?” and 54.4 of black millennials answered yes. Only a third of whites, a fourth of Latinos and a little over a fourth of Asian Americans said yes to the same question.
The study is interesting because it was conducted in 2009 but just released Wednesday, which means it has not been inflated in the post-Ferguson world where the media has focused on every police incident, and where the Black Lives Matter movement has rallied activists.
“We know that young blacks are more likely to be harassed by the police,” Cathy Cohen, chair of the political science department at the University of Chicago and leader of the Black Youth Project, which conducted the study, told the AP. “We know that they are more likely to mistrust their encounters with the police. But we also know from actually collecting data that a majority of them believe that police in their neighborhood are actually there to protect them, so I think it provides us with more complexity.”
Even President Barck Obama said in an October speech to criminal justice leaders that “As a young man, there were times that I was driving and I got stopped and I didn’t know why,” suggesting his race may have been the reason for the stop.
The growing fear of police in black communities has been channeled into a movement by the Black Lives Matter. They have managed to get significant media play and even the attention of presidential candidates. Hillary Clinton has tried to connect with the group, but its members have remained aloof, with some even protesting her.