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The killing of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown by former Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson has rightfully garnered national attention. It is important, however, to note that the tension between police forces and Black communities is nothing new, nor is it confined to Ferguson, Missouri. 

In this report, we use data from several national public opinion surveys to explore the experiences of Black youth with the police and their attitudes towards the criminal justice system. Our main findings are as follows:
  • Black youth report the highest rate of harassment by the police (54.4%), nearly twice the rates of other young people.
  • Less than half of Black youth (44.2 percent) trust the police, compared with 71.5 percent of white youth, 59.6 percent of Latino youth, and 76.1 percent of Asian American youth.
  • Substantially fewer Black youth believe the police in their neighborhood are there to protect them (66.1 percent) compared to young people from other racial and ethnic groups.
  • Fewer Black youth believe the legal system treats all groups equally (26.8 percent) than young people in other racial and ethnic groups.
  • Fewer Black youth feel that they are full and equal citizens under the law (60.2 percent) compared with white (72.9 percent) and Latino (64.1 percent) youth