Jennifer E. Cobbina, an associate professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University, led an effort that conducted a series of in-depth interviews with people who participated in protests following the shooting of Michael Brown by a White police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
Most of the people interviewed for the study were of the opinion that Blacks and Whites committed crimes at about the same rate. But they thought that the police did not believe the same thing. Most of those interviewed thought that the local police overestimated the percentage of crimes committed by African Americans.
The study, published in the Journal of Crime and Justice, concluded that “the social unrest in Ferguson was not simply in response to the death of Michael Brown, but rather widespread racial and social injustice on the part of police and larger society that produced the conditions in which this young man was killed.”
Dr. Cobbina stated that “the majority of respondents did not racially typify crime, but they strongly believed that the police did. Whether it’s true or not, the very fact that they’re perceiving this is obviously going to have an effect on police community relations.”
Dr. Cobbina joined the faculty at Michigan State University in 2009. She is a graduate of Indiana University and holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in criminology and criminal justice from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
The article, “Perceptions of Race, Crime, and Policing Among Ferguson Protesters,” can be found here.