Whites Have Confidence in Ferguson Investigations. Blacks, Not So Much.

There's a clear racial divide on faith in official inquiries regarding Michael Brown's shooting.

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A man with a skateboard protesting Michael Brown's murder walks away from tear gas released by police on Aug. 17 in Ferguson, Missouri. (Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

No matter how badly Missouri officials want to make Michael Brown's death—and the response to it by protesters and police in Ferguson—not about race, reactions to what has happened there over the last week are starkly racially divided.

A new survey from the Pew Research Center finds that white Americans have much more confidence than black Americans in the multiple government investigations into exactly what led up to the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown:

Similarly, while 65 percent of black respondents told Pew that they believe the police response to the shooting "has gone too far," only 33 percent of white Americans said the same. Explicit questions of race have Americans even more divided, with 37 percent of white respondents saying that the shooting "raises important issues about race," compared with 80 percent of black respondents.

The divide shows up even when you look at just who is paying attention to what's happening on the ground. Fifty-four percent of non-Hispanic black Americans say they followed news out of Ferguson last week very closely, compared with only 25 percent of non-Hispanic whites.

Protests and police crackdowns in Ferguson don't look likely to end anytime soon, with the National Guard moving in and more details on the shooting by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson slowly coming out. But one week in, a clear divide in how Americans view what happened there, and what could happen now in response, is obvious.

This post originally appeared on National Journal, an Atlantic partner site.

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About the Author

  • Matt Berman is an online editor at National Journal.