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Racial divice on Brown, Garner grand jury decisions: poll

People block an exit from the Lincoln Tunnel

People block an exit from the Lincoln Tunnel during a protest against the decision of a grand jury not to indict a police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner, in New York on Dec. 4, 2014. Photo Credit: EPA / MICHAEL NAGLE

Americans disagree sharply with a grand jury's decision not to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner -- and by a larger margin than they who opposed the failure to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of teenager Michael Brown, according to a new poll by the Pew Research Center and USA Today.

Blacks were much more likely to find fault with the grand jury verdicts in both cases, and to think race was a factor in the decisions not to charge the officers, according to the phone survey.

While 37% of Americans thought the Brown decision was wrong, 57% opposed the jury's decision not to indict in the death of Garner. Those figures morphed significantly when race of the respondents was factored in: While 47% of whites thought the decision not to charge NYPD cop Pantaleo was wrong, 90% of blacks condemned it. And a full 80% of blacks thought the Wilson decision was a bad call, while only 23% of whites thought so.

Blacks were also far more likely to perceive race as a factor in the juries' decisions: In the NYC case, 62% of Blacks said race was "a major factor" in the grand jury's decision not to charge Pantaleo, while only 18% of whites deemed it so.

While blacks were more skeptical than whites and Hispanics in believing that police relations with minorities would improve, the poll found widespread support from both races and all political affiliations for police wearing body cameras. Eighty-seven percent of all respondents said it would be a good idea for more cops to wear body cameras, with 79% of Republicans endorsing the practice.


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