Most Americans are convinced there is an “epidemic” of police shooting unarmed black males in America. This widespread misperception is reinforced with misreportage, sensationalized reportage, missing context, and the lack of reporting on analogous cases.
In February, a survey was released that showed how many adults overestimate the number of adult unarmed black males were killed by police officers in 2019 (the last year with full data available). The Skeptic Research Center published the results, which were broken down by political ideology. A chart based on these responses is posted below:
The bars are color-coded to reflect the estimation in each political ideology category. Very Liberal respondents were the furthest from reality: 14.29% said ‘about 10,000’ unarmed black males were killed by police, while 31.43% said ‘about 1,000.’ Liberals were slightly closer at 6.67% saying ‘about 10,000’ and 26.67% saying ‘about 1,000.’ According to the database at Mapping Police Violence, this number was actually 27.
The responses get more egregiously off-base when the survey delves into respondents’ estimates of the racial proportion of those killed by police.
“The available data suggest that 24.9% of people killed by police in 2019 were Black,” the Skeptic Research Center states. “However, across the political spectrum, survey participants overestimated this number.”
“Those who reported being ‘liberal’ or ‘very liberal’ were particularly inaccurate, estimating the proportion to be 56% and 60%, respectively,” the survey adds.