The Campaign Spot

Will the Violence in Ferguson Have Any Lasting Impact?

With violence breaking out on Monday of Thanksgiving week, amidst a busy news cycle, it’s possible that most of the rest of the country moves on and forgets about the events in Ferguson, Mo.

How much does the community of Ferguson get tainted with the actions of the violent protesters, even though, initial arrest reports indicate, most of those arrested didn’t live in Ferguson?

President Obama weighed in on the grand jury’s decision last night. Will other key political figures feel the need to do the same — or to say anything beyond platitudes — or will they prefer to let the events fade into history? Hillary Clinton didn’t address Michael Brown’s shooting until 19 days after the event. Kentucky senator (and potential presidential candidate) Rand Paul has made extensive efforts to reach out to the African-American community, including emphasizing their concerns that the criminal-justice sentencing guidelines are biased against members of that community.

One thing we should not expect from these events is a change in how Americans view relations between blacks and whites in the United States; polling on race relations has remained remarkably stable for the past decade:

The time period in the above chart includes Hurricane Katrina, Obama’s election and reelection, the Trayvon Martin case, the coverage of Jeremiah Wright’s sermons, the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., and high rates of unemployment among all groups, but particularly African Americans, during the Great Recession. And yet, views on race relations seem pretty positive and pretty stable.

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