Almost two weeks ago, 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., after being stopped for jaywalking. The killing of a black, unarmed teen by a white police office has since put Ferguson, a majority black, working-class suburb of St. Louis, in the international spotlight – both for the racial undertones of the shooting, and also for the near-constant protests and subsequent police retaliation.
No one denies that the situation is complex. But there is evidence that race determines how and what Americans think about Brown’s killing. Last week, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press surveyed 1,000 adults and found the following:
- Black Americans are more likely to see Brown’s shooting as a race issue. When asked, 80 percent of black respondent said the killing raised racial issues as compared to 37 percent of whites.
- Whites, however, were more likely to have confidence in the investigations into the shooting. More than half – 52 percent – of white respondents said they had a “great deal” or a “fair” amount of confidence, while only 18 percent of blacks said the same.
- Interest in media coverage of the story is also divided along racial lines. Fifty-four percent of black respondents said they were following the news “closely.” Twenty-five percent of white respondents said the same.
This map from VentureBeat, a tech news website, shows how news from Ferguson has spread on Twitter, starting on Aug. 9, the day of the shooting.