A new political poll that surveyed 600 likely voters in Michigan found that 50 percent support the Black Lives Matter movement’s stance on police brutality, while 42 percent disapprove.
The poll question focused on law enforcement, but academics, civil rights leaders and others point out BLM has emerged into a major social movement that’s shaping debates about systemic injustice in seemingly every avenue of public life.
“It’s sparked a general sense to address social inequity. This has caused us to look at everything and that is one of the heartening parts of the Black Lives Movement,” said the Rev. Horace Sheffield III of Detroit, a veteran civil rights advocate. “This is a major movement that’s comparable to the Civil Rights Movement in the sense that people in the white community and certain people of influence are behind this, which means it’s not going to be swept under the rug anytime soon.”
The Michigan poll was conducted by Lansing-based EPIC-MRA between July 25 and 30. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Respondents were asked this about BLM: “Do you approve or disapprove of the actions taken by this group to bring attention to the excessive and often deadly force which they claim is unnecessarily used by many state and local police officers against black people in particular?
The number of supporters and critics is fairly even, the survey found.
Half of the respondents, 50 percent, said they approved, with 32 percent saying they “strongly approve,” and 18 percent “somewhat approve.”
Those who disapproved totaled 42 percent, with 31 percent saying they “strongly disapprove” while 11 percent somewhat disapprove.
Another 8 percent said they were undecided or refused to answer the question.
The results of the Michigan poll are similar to what national surveys find among registered voters about BLM. The online research firm Civiqs has had an ongoing survey about Black Lives Matter since April. The survey finds 50 percent of registered voters approve, 30 percent disapprove, 12 percent are neutral and 2 percent are unsure.
Since the death of George Floyd at the hands of white policemen in Minneapolis on May 25, BLM has become a global rallying cry. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll in June found that as many as 26 million Americans have participated in a BLM march or rally. A Brookings Institution study of BLM events finds they attract a more diverse group of participants compared to other large-scale protests against President Donald Trump and his policies.
BLM may be helping improve the chances of progressive candidates of color, according to the Brookings Institution study.
On Tuesday, U.S Rep. Rashida Tlaib handily won a rematch with Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones to represent the 13th District. The district covers a big swath of Detroit, a bit of Downriver as well as the cities of Highland Park, Garden City and Romulus. The district is heavily Democrat, which means Tlaib’s path to victory in November is virtually assured.
Tlaib has embraced the Black Lives Movement and its calls for police reform. Jones had received earlier criticism from the local Detroit Will Breathe group for not taking a tougher stance.