A national survey conducted immediately following the release of the video of Tyre Nichols’ death shows US adults are split on improvements in policing; nearly half of US adults believe the death of Nichols will lead to a positive change.
To gauge public opinion in the immediate aftermath of the publication of the video of Mr. Tyre Nichols’ death in Memphis, TN, Zencity launched a national survey conducted from January 28-31, 2023. The survey collected 2,267 responses from across the United States, selected to represent the geographic, racial, age, and sex diversity of US adults.
Below are key observations from the national survey:
Improvements in Accountability since George Floyd
- 41% of respondents thought that police who engage in misconduct are being held accountable more often than before the George Floyd incident in 2021, with strong differences based on demographics, especially amongst different age groups.
- Young people (under 35) are fairly split on improvements in accountability since 2020 (35% say things have gotten worse compared with 32% who claim things have gotten better); older respondents (over 55) are overwhelmingly optimistic, with 46% saying things have improved and only 6% saying things have gotten worse.
- Differences in perceptions were also apparent amongst racial groups, with Black (34%), Hispanic (34%), and Asian (30%) respondents less likely to believe things have gotten better than White respondents (45%). Similarly, White respondents (14%) were far less likely to believe that things have gotten worse compared with Black (32%), Hispanic (34%), and Asian (40%) respondents.
Optimism that the Nichols incident will spark change
- Despite the gap in opinions about improvements in accountability between different demographic groups, nearly half of the respondents thought the events surrounding Tyre Nichols’ death would lead to positive change. Black (58% confident, 28% not at all confident) and Hispanic (65% confident, 20% not at all confident) respondents reported the highest optimism, while White respondents were the most pessimistic (48% confident/32% not at all confident).
“Our hope is that this data is useful to public sector leaders who are ultimately responsible for managing what matters most: the public’s trust,” said Michael Simon, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at Zencity. “The proactive steps and atypical transparency from Memphis city officials in recent days have been a sharp contrast to previous tragic incidents. Early indication is that a majority of Americans feel that justice and accountability have improved since George Floyd’s murder in 2020. Young people and people of color still show higher skepticism about the degree of improvement, indicating an even greater need to speak to these groups.”
About the methodology
This survey ran from January 29-31, 2023. 2,267 responses were collected from adults (18 and over) across the United States via digital recruitment using quota sampling for age, race/ethnicity, and gender. The instrument was optimized for data collection on mobile devices. Rake-weighting was used to ensure the results were representative of the adult population of the United States.