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Majority agree with Black Lives Matter and say major police reform is needed — CBS News poll

CBS News Special: "Justice for All"
CBS News Special: "Justice for All" 53:32

A majority of the American public, including more than half of whites, say they agree with the ideas expressed by the Black Lives Matter movement. And more support than oppose the people protesting the treatment of African Americans by police. Most, regardless of their view, expect a lasting impact: 8 in 10 Americans think the protests will have at least some influence on the way police treat racial minorities.


More than half of whites agree with the ideas of the Black Lives Matter movement, and it finds widespread agreement among African-Americans. 


There is a matter of degree, as African Americans are more likely to strongly agree and whites are more mixed between somewhat and strongly agreeing.


These issues do continue to show partisan differences. Most Democrats and independents support the protesters and agree with the ideas of the movement — with Democrats strongly agreeing and most independents agreeing at least somewhat. By contrast, a large majority of Republicans say they disagree with the ideas expressed by the Black Lives Matter movement overall, including half who say they strongly disagree, and most Republicans also oppose the protesters — though one-quarter of Republicans join that majority of Democrats in supporting them, too.


Statues and monuments

We asked Americans if Confederate statues should be removed from public places, and also if all statues of historical figures should be considered for removal, too, depending on what those figures did in their lives. We found divisions by party and race, and age.

Three in four Democrats want Confederate statues removed, while more than 8 in 10 Republicans want them to remain. 


Eight in 10 black Americans want Confederate statues and symbols removed, and while a slight majority of white Americans want them to remain, the opinion of white Americans is largely related to partisanship. Most white Democrats want the statues removed, while most white Republicans and independents want them to remain.

Age matters: younger Americans are more likely to want Confederate statues removed — most do – while older Americans oppose; and younger Americans are much more likely to consider all historical statues for removal. Some of this, too, hews to partisanship. 


By region, a slight majority of Americans in the South (56%) want the Confederate monuments to remain, but this is also true in the Midwest (57%) and West (55%). Only in the Northeast do a majority of Americans want Confederate monuments removed, and there just barely (51%). Here again, partisanship and race within regions factor more heavily than region itself.

As protesters remove or try to remove a wider group of statues, it is Democrats who mostly would reconsider other figures, depending on what those figures did in their lives, while Americans overall are much less likely to back this idea. Forty-one percent of Americans think statues of all historical figures should be considered for potential removal. Democrats are most in favor, with two-thirds saying consider them all for removal, and large majorities of Republicans and independents saying not to consider a wider group for removal. 


Views on this issue largely track with views on the recent protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Most who support the protests support both removal of Confederate monuments as well as considering whether all statues of historical figures should be removed based on what they did in life. Those who oppose the protests want the statues and monuments to remain in place.

Trump and the protesters

Six in 10 Americans disapprove of President Trump's handling of the recent protests of the treatment of African Americans by police, and over half of all Americans (53%) say he hasn't shown enough understanding about protesters' concerns.

Most Democrats and independents disapprove of the job he's doing (three in four Democrats disapprove strongly), and two thirds of Democrats say he's been too tough on the protesters. Most Republicans at least somewhat approve of the job he's doing (though less than half strongly approve) and most Republicans say he hasn't been tough enough on the protesters. 


Reforming the police

Fifty-five percent think major changes are needed in the way police departments operate. People do differ in degree. While Americans across the political spectrum think some changes are in order, most Democrats and independents think major changes are needed, while most Republicans think only minor changes are necessary. Only 9% of Americans think no changes are needed.

Overall Americans say they think the police are more apt to treat white people better than black people more so than to treat both equally. 


A majority expect the recent protests to lead to at least some changes to the way police treat racial minorities, including half who think major changes will result. More black Americans say the protests will lead to major changes than minor ones.

Most Americans are dissatisfied (58%) with President Trump's response to calls for police reforms, and this also breaks along party lines. Most also disapprove of Congress' response, however, and on that, partisans agree.

This CBS News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 2,009 U.S. adult residents interviewed between June 23-26, 2020. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 presidential vote and registration status. The margin of error is ± 2.6 points.


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