53%: No to pepper spray
Following the use of pepper spray by campus police on seated protesters at the University of California Davis, we wanted to know what you thought. In a Poll Position national scientific telephone survey we asked, do you think it is ever appropriate for police to use pepper spray on peaceful protesters? A majority of Americans, 53%, said no it is not OK, 34% said it is OK, and 13% did not have an opinion.
The pictures of campus police spraying seated protesters has led to outrage. U.C. Davis has placed the two officers seen spraying the protesters on administrative leave and say an investigation is ongoing. The head of campus police was later put on administrative leave also. The protesters were part of the Occupy U.C. Davis movement. Authorities say the pepper spray was used to move student protesters who were blocking the sidewalk, trapping campus police and limiting access, which police say could have led to safety issues. Students are calling on the chancellor of U.C. Davis to resign over the pepper spray incident. The chancellor has apologized in a public speech to the students.
Opinions differed with race, gender and political affiliation. Among African-Americans, 75% said it was not right to pepper spray peaceful protesters, to 13% who said it was OK. Whites differed with 50% saying it was not OK, but 36% thought it was OK.
Men and women differed with 42% of men saying it was alright to use pepper spray versus 49% who said it was not. Women differed with 56% saying use of pepper spray was not OK, 27% thought use of pepper spray on peaceful protesters was alright.
Among Republicans, 55% said use of pepper spray was appropriate to just 16% of Democrats who approved of the use of pepper spray. Independents did not approve of the tactic with 59% opposing the use of pepper spray on peaceful protesters.
Poll Position’s scientific telephone survey of 1,220 registered voters nationwide was conducted November 19, 2011 and has a margin of error of ±3%. Poll results are weighted to be a representative sampling of all American adults.
What do you think? Vote in our online companion poll and comment below.
The online companion poll in which you can vote provides unscientific results, meaning it’s a tally of participating Poll Position users, not a nationally representative sampling.
Poll Position is committed to transparency and upholding the highest professional standards in its polling, explaining why we provide you with the crosstabs of our scientific polls. Crosstabs provide a breakdown of survey participants by age, race, gender, and political affiliation. Here are the crosstabs for this poll: Poll Position Crosstabs-Pepper spray peaceful protesters
You can learn more about our polling methodology here.