The results of a national poll conducted by the University of Massachusetts Amherst in May show that support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and its police reform agenda has dropped across the country.
BLM became especially prominent following the killing of George Floyd, as the group’s members were heavily involved in the volatile protests during the summer of 2020. Leaders with the movement advocated for defunding the police and replacing them with civilian police forces, in addition to a long list of demands for other police reforms.
Nearly two years after gaining worldwide attention, the UMass poll found that BLM and its goals are becoming increasingly unpopular among Americans.
Poll director Tatishe Nteta said that the rise in crime across the country over the past two years is likely an underlying factor behind the growing indifference to the movement.
“As incidents of violent crime have increased in the past year and with President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party calling for the use of unused stimulus funds to be directed to police departments across the country, it is no surprise that the public’s one-time enthusiasm for policies designed to bring about wholescale changes to the nation’s police departments has waned in the past year,” Nteta, an associate professor of political science at UMass Amherst, told news site MassLive.
However, Nteta was surprised to see that a large percentage of those advocating for progressive police reforms have become more indifferent to changes over time.
“What is somewhat surprising is that this decline is seen across the board, with ardent supporters of police reforms such as progressives, Democrats, African Americans and young Americans also exhibiting a decrease in their support for these changes,” Nteta said.
The results of the poll, which surveyed 1,000 Americans, indicate that support for policies that defund the police have become more unpopular compared with 2021.
For instance, the results found that those supporting transferring funds from state and local police departments to social services decreased from 38% to 31%. The poll found that opposition to these policies remained relatively stable at 45%.
Support for reform policies that ban police from using high-grade military equipment also dropped several percentage points over the course of a year, from 48% to 42%.
The same goes for an array of other reform policies, such as allowing civilians to sue police officers for excessive use of force, which fell from 59% to 54%.
Support for the goals and tactics used by BLM to achieve its goals dropped as well, according to the poll.
Interestingly, some of the steepest drops in support for the movement came from African Americans, with only 56% supporting the movement’s goals compared to 67% last year.
Nteta’s report concluded that “the movement for police reform may have experienced its zenith of support in the United States.”