Last week, a nationwide protest erupted in the United States (US) over the death of an unarmed black man by a white police officer in Minneapolis and some demonstrations became violent including destroying shops and vehicles which drew the attention of US President Donald Trump.
The president said that he would use US military forces to disperse the protests. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, a majority of Americans supported nationwide protests but disapproved of Trump’s response to the public unrest.
Opinion Polls on Minneapolis Protests
The public unrest started after a Minneapolis police officer was videotaped kneeling on the neck of an unarmed black-American George Floyd for nearly nine minutes and continued until Floyd appeared to lose consciousness. With the death of Floyd, the officer has been charged with murder. The protests have escalated the prevailing crises impacted by the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, which would cause devastating effects on economy in these miserable times.
The survey by Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted on Monday and Tuesday showed that 64% of American adults were “sympathetic to people who are out protesting right now,” while 27% were disapproving the protests and 9% were unsure. The majority of people, from the rural and suburban areas that were less affected by the demonstrations, extended their support for the protests as the poll showed a little more than half of the rural residents said they were sympathetic to the protesters, while seven out of 10 suburbanites also agreed.
Meanwhile, the majority of both Republicans and Democrats expressed their support for peaceful protests but opposed damaging property that undermined the demonstrators’ cause. The poll showed that less than one-quarter of Americans said the violence was an appropriate response.
Trump’s Political Risk
The poll highlighted the political risks for Trump, who earlier declared a coercive response and warned of deploying US military to stop anti-police protests. As the poll showed, more than 55% of Americans were disapproving Trump’s response to the demonstrations including 40% who “strongly” disapproved, while one-third said they approved. Even among Republicans, only 67% said they approved of the way Trump had responded, which was significantly lower than the 82% who liked his overall job performance.
On Monday, police used tear gas to disperse protestors near the White House and the poll showed that Americans were divided over the police response. According to the poll, 43% respondents supported police actions while 47% disagreed, at the same time, a majority of Democrats disagreed and a majority of Republicans supported police response.
With this development, Trump’s response involved political risk since 47% of registered voters said they planned to support trump’s rival presidential candidate, Joe Biden in the November 3 election, compared with 37% favoring Trump. As a separate Reuters/Ipsos poll indicated, “Biden’s lead over Trump among registered voters expanded to 10 percentage points – the biggest margin since the former vice president became his party’s presumptive nominee in early April”.
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