American public opinion about race, the justice system and George Zimmerman’s shooting of Trayvon Martin are as starkly different as black and white, a new poll shows.
African-Americans disapproved of Zimmerman’s not-guilty verdict 86-9 percent and Hispanics disapproved 50-24 percent, according to Langer Research Associates national survey conducted for ABC News and the Washington Post.
Non-Hispanic whites approved of the jury’s decision 51-31 percent.
By an 81-13 percent split, blacks support brining federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman, 58 percent of Hispanics support the idea.
But whites are opposed to any civil-rights charge. Only 27 percent favor it, 59 percent oppose.
The poll of more than 1,002 people was being conducted at the same
time President Obama unexpectedly gave a White House speech Friday in
reaction to Zimmerman's not guilty verdict. Obama steered clear of talking about a federal civil-rights probe, launched by his attorney general, and focused instead on the realities and perceptions of race and justice.
"I think it’s
important to recognize that the African American community is looking at
this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go
away," Obama said, noting the ravages of black-on-black crime and the problem of racial profiling.
The poll indicates that racial division is deep. It was also in general perceptions of the fairness of the justice system, with 86 percent of blacks and 60 percent of Hispanics saying minorities don’t receive fair treatment.
Only 41 percent of whites shared the view.
Younger people, liberals and Democrats tended to be more in line with African-Americans, a key Democratic constituency. The elderly were more in line with whites, Republicans and conservatives, who tend to be overwhelmingly white in the first place.
White public opinion shifted decidedly in favor of Zimmerman since the last poll on the topic in April 2012.
Back then, at the height of public pressure calling for Zimmerman's arrest, only 5 percent of whites felt Zimmerman’s shooting of the Miami Gardens teen was justified. That percentage soared in this poll to 33 percent – the same percentage of whites who now think the shooting was unjustified.
Here’s the poll