Poll Shows Honest Truth About Existing While Black In America

One year after Michael Brown's killing, has anything changed?

A year has passed since the tragic death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown at the hands of white police officer Darren Wilson, but unrest remains in the St. Louis community.

On Monday, as protests continued into the second day marking the anniversary of Brown's killing, St. Louis County declared a state of emergency and police arrested more than 100 people.

Demonstrations throughout Sunday were peaceful, but events took a violent turn at nightfall. Police released surveillance footage of Tyrone Harris, 18, who was shot by police after allegedly opening fire on undercover officers. 

County Executive Steve Stenger cited Sunday night's violence as reason for the state of emergency. 

"The recent acts of violence will not be tolerated in a community that has worked so tirelessly over the last year to rebuild and become stronger," he said in a statement. 

On Sunday, police arrested 57 nonviolent protestors, NBC News reported, including Princeton University professor Cornel West and activists DeRay Mckesson and Johnetta Elzie.

Since the series of events last year brought racism and police brutality to mainstream attention, the issue of racial discrimination in the U.S. remains unsolved.

According to a survey conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, more than three out of five African-Americans say they or a family member have been treated unfairly by the police because of their race. In stark comparison, three percent of Whites say they are treated unfairly for the same reason.

These results run parallel with the Justice Department's investigations into various local law enforcements around the country. The DOJ's reports found staggering civil rights violations in cities — Cleveland and Ferguson, to name a few — that gained national scrutiny for officers killing Black men in separate incidents. 

The AP poll also found that 71 percent of Blacks felt that the criminal justice system was too lenient to the police when they hurt or kill civilians. To top it off, White Americans who live in racially diverse communities (with at least 25 percent of non-Whites) were more prone to note in the survey that their local police do mistreat minorities. They're also more likely to consider the police as too quick to use deadly force than White people who do live in less diverse areas.

The events since Ferguson have reignited the debate surrounding the police and race in America.

There have been concerted efforts to change policing tactics and improve police-community relations, including installing body cameras, police retraining and ongoing discussions regarding the overhaul of the criminal justice system. 

But if the deaths of Sandra Bland and Christian Taylor — the most recent incidents of this nature — are any indication at all, it seems as though the changes, if making any impact at all, are happening far to slowly. Isolated incidents are not so if they happen with such painfully troubling frequency.

Cover image via Scott Olson/Getty Images.