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Widespread public protests across the United States and around the world have followed the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. The protests have drawn attention to questions about police officers’ treatment of black Americans and highlight long-standing racial and ethnic differences in both experiences with police and confidence in officers to act in the public’s best interest.

Just a month before Floyd’s death, a Pew Research Center survey found that 78% of Americans overall – but a far smaller share of black Americans (56%) – said they had at least a fair amount of confidence in police officers to act in the best interests of the public. By contrast, large majorities of white (84%) and Hispanic (74%) adults expressed at least a fair amount of confidence. These views – and the wide racial and ethnic gap in opinions – had changed little over the prior few years.

Pew Research Center regularly conducts surveys to gauge public confidence in several key…

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