There are sharp racial divides between blacks and whites in St. Louis County, where Ferguson, Missouri is located, over the fairness of the investigation into the police shooting of an unarmed teenager and the way black Ferguson residents are treated. In fact, the only issues black and white residents agreed on is that the media's presence in Ferguson made things worse and Gov. Jay Nixon didn't handle the situation well.
A new poll surveyed 604 residents of the county on several aspects of the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting: whether the prosecutor would be unbiased, whether African-Americans are unfairly targeted by the police, and whether Michael Brown was targeted based on his race.
As past surveys have shown, the racial divide over the questions was vast — 77 percent of white respondents believed Brown wasn't targeted based on his race, while 64 percent of black residents believed he was. Sixty-two percent of white residents said they believe Officer Darren Wilson was justified in shooting Brown, 65 percent of blacks said they believe he wasn't.
Only two questions showed uniformity: 73 percent of respondents (including 81 percent of whites and 50 percent of blacks) thought the media made the situation in Ferguson "worse." And 64 percent (62 percent of whites, 70 percent of blacks) had an unfavorable view of the way Gov. Jay Nixon handled the situation in Ferguson.
There are two likely causes of the universal disapproval of the media. As Pew found, 47 percent of whites said they thought race was getting too much attention, compared to just 18 percent of blacks.
There's also the fact that some members of the media didn't behave well in Ferguson. As Poynter, a media blog, pointed out, several journalists pointed out the careerism and disrespect some journalists showed during the height of the protests. It's also possible that people are conflating activist journalists with professional journalists.
Nixon's unpopularity also comes from multiple sources. As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported last month, "protesters and African-American leaders say he engaged too slowly and tepidly" and "police supporters say he has shown outright bias against the officer involved, as when he called for 'vigorous prosecution' before knowing whether there will be criminal charges." In other words, when it comes to Ferguson and the racial divide, even when people agree, they disagree.