WASHINGTON — Support for the Black Lives Matter movement has increased among young white adults, according to a poll that suggests a majority of white, black, Asian and Hispanic young adults now support the movement calling for accountability for police in the deaths of African-Americans.
Fifty-one percent of white adults between the ages of 18 and 30 say in a GenForward poll they now strongly or somewhat support Black Lives Matter, a 10-point increase since June, while 42 percent said they do not support the movement.
But most young whites also think the movement’s rhetoric encourages violence against the police, while the vast majority of young blacks say it does not. And young whites are more likely to consider violence against police a serious problem than say the same about the killings of African-Americans by police.
Sean Bradley, 26, of Clearwater, Florida, said watching several encounters between police and black suspects online helped cement his support for Black Lives Matter. As a white male, he said, he also has had run-ins with the police and witnessed officers trying to cover for what he considered illegal conduct by other officers.
The Black Lives Matter movement emerged in 2012 after Florida neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was acquitted in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin. It gathered strength in ensuing years following the deaths of other black men at the hands of police in New York, South Carolina, Baltimore and elsewhere.
But young blacks are much more likely than young whites to call killings of black people by the police a very or extremely serious problem, 91 percent to 43 percent. Sixty-three percent of young whites think that violence against police is a serious problem, similar to the 60 percent of young African-Americans who say so.
Samuel Martin, 27, of Conway, South Carolina, is one of those white supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement, and said he’s supported its goals from the beginning. He also vehemently disagreed with the idea that Black Lives Matter’s rhetoric encourages violence against police.
“The only thing that would encourage violence against police would be thinking that black lives do not matter,” Martin said.