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Poll: Many Blacks Say Police Treat Them Unfairly

(CBS)
As President Obama prepares to meet with African-American professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and the Cambridge police sergeant who arrested Gates at his home, a new CBS News/New York Times poll finds that fifty percent of black and non-white Hispanics believe most police do not treat them as well as they treat whites.

Forty-one percent of blacks and non-white Hispanics say that they are treated equally. An additional five percent volunteered that "it depends," while the rest say they don't know. Zero percent of blacks and non-white Hispanics say they are treated better than whites by police.

An important note: The sample size of blacks and non-white Hispanics in this survey is relatively small, and the margin of error for the subset is 10 percentage points. By contrast, the margin of error for whites and the total sample is three points.

Whites are more likely to say police treat both groups the same, the poll finds. Forty-nine percent of whites believe there is equal treatment, while 34 percent say blacks and non-white Hispanics are treated worse than they are. Three percent of whites say blacks and non-white Hispanics receive better treatment from police than they do.

(CBS)
Overall, 46 percent of Americans say whites and black and non-white Hispanics are treated equally by police. Thirty-eight percent say whites are treated better than black and non-white Hispanics. Three percent say black and non-white Hispanics are treated better than whites.

Less than one in five Americans overall – 18 percent – says they have been discriminated against by police because of their race or ethnicity. But the percentage of blacks and non-white Hispanics who say police have discriminated against them because of race or ethnicity is far higher – 52 percent.

Only eight percent of whites say they have been discriminated against by police because of their race or ethnicity. Ninety-one percent say they have not been subject to such discrimination.

More from the CBS News poll released Wednesday:

Poll: Obama Not Blamed For Economy

Poll: Public Conflicted Over Health Reform

Poll: Many Blacks Say Police Treat Them Unfairly

Poll: Americans Want Deficit Reduced

Video: Polling Director Sarah Dutton Discusses the Poll


This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1050 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone July 24-28, 2009. Phone numbers were dialed from random digit dial samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.