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Poll finds huge racial divide in perceptions of Zimmerman verdict

It’s a little scary, a lot sad, but not very surprising that a fresh Pew Poll finds huge racial disparities in reactions to the outcome of the trial of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin.

Pew asked a national sample whether they were satisified or dissastisfied with the verdit. The whole sample split fairly evenly:

  • Satisfied:      39%
  • Dissatisfied: 42%
  • Not sure:      19%

But when respondents were separated by race:

  • White:      49-30-21
  • Black:         5-86-9
  • Hispanic: 25-58-17

In a follow-up question, Pew asked whether the issue of race was getting more attention than it deserves in discussion of the case.

  • White:      60-28-12
  • Black:       13-78-8
  • Hispanic: 40-47-13.

Comments (20)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 07/22/2013 - 01:07 pm.

    If you had any illusions of America being a post-racial society, all it took was reading the unmoderated comments appended to the various news stories and blog posts to dispel that idea.

    The free expression of id via anonymous posts reveals a very ugly state of race relations.

  2. Submitted by Jim Bernstein on 07/22/2013 - 01:55 pm.

    I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Rovick’s assessment. I spent way too much time looking at those comments as well and was hopeful at first that it was just a few people trying to push other folks buttons but that was clearly not the case. The idea that “you don’t look like me so I don’t trust you and I don’t think you belong here so I have a right to shoot you” is a lot more widespread than I could have imagined.

  3. Submitted by James Hamilton on 07/22/2013 - 03:52 pm.

    Asking the general public

    whether they are satisfied with a verdict is an utter waste of time. Most of us know only what the media reported (or some small portion thereof) and literally nothing about the law on which the jurors were instructed. Frankly, all such a poll does is feed into the race-baiting on all sides.

  4. Submitted by rolf westgard on 07/22/2013 - 06:02 pm.

    A clear case

    Zimmerman was under an aggressive assault. A clear case of justifiable homicide. Let’s respect the jury system.
    The notion that a young Obama or an Obama son would be suspended from school three separate times, be caught with a burglar tool and jewels, etc. is unlikely.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 07/23/2013 - 09:39 am.

      A case of a poor example chosen

      to make a good point.
      Racial stereotyping and profiling is real; the problem is that the facts of this particular case don’t support it.
      Trayvon Martin was not Emmett Till.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/23/2013 - 11:03 am.

        The Facts?

        The fact of this case totally support racial profiling. We know for a fact that Trayvon was a teenager walking home from a convenience store, not a criminal. We know he was not engaged in, or observed to have involved in any criminal activity that evening. We know that Zimmerman made a series of assumptions, all wrong, about Trayvon. And we know that Zimmerman would not have made the same assumptions about a white guy in a Polo shirt and Bermuda shorts.

        • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 07/23/2013 - 11:11 am.


          How do we know what Zimmernan would have done if he’d seen a white guy in a Polo shirt and Bermuda shorts?

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/23/2013 - 07:12 pm.

            Racial profile

            A white guy in a Polo shirt wasn’t the racial profile Zimmerman used to classify Trayvon as suspicious. Zimmerman based his decision on reports that some other black men had committed crimes in the area.

            • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 07/25/2013 - 01:29 pm.


              I don’t know if you’re familiar with the term ‘post hoc ergo propter hoc’ but that’s the fallacy you’re using.
              We don’t have any reason whatsoever to think that Zimmerman found Martin suspicious because of his clothes. Rather it was because he was wandering around in the rain. And no, I don’t think of that as suspicious behavior either, but I might if my neighborhood had just suffered a string of burglaries.
              Look, what happened was awful but it can all be explained away by some poor decisions (poor, not evil). Those poor decisions turned into a worst case scenario. That doesn’t mean that Zimmerman is evil and it doesn’t mean that we throw out some pretty important principles like ‘presumed innocent’ and ‘reasonable doubt’.

  5. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/23/2013 - 08:56 am.

    Zimmmerman was assaulted?

    Zimmerman killed his neighbor. He racially profiled Trayvon and without any legal authority whatsoever took it upon himself to take a loaded gun in pursuit of a completely innocent teenager, by himself, on foot, at night, through a residential neighborhood. A series of reckless decisions by Zimmerman led to a deadly and completely unnecessary confrontation. Systemic racism then put Trayvon on trial instead of Zimmerman, and resulted in an acquittal. We do not have to “respect” legal travesties like this. Like everything and everyone else, our legal system has to earn our respect. We cannot respect a system that concludes there’s nothing legally wrong with a vigilante chasing down and killing his neighbors. This is a broken legal system, and we as citizens have a right and a duty to confront that malfunction and repair it. Blind allegiance may suit Kafka, but it’s not Democracy.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 07/23/2013 - 10:44 am.


      The fact is that your statement is one sided.
      Yes, the confrontation could have been avoided by better decisions on both sides.
      However, the immediate cause of Martin’s death was HIS attack on Zimmerman.
      An -innocent- teenager would have run home (a high school football player can easily outrun a flabby 29 year old).
      Given Florida’s law and the available facts, the outcome was inevitable.
      And it was also inevitable that Martin’s actions be considered, since Zimmerman was claiming self defense.
      If there’s a legal travesty here, it’s the laws allowing unlimited gun possession.

      • Submitted by Hal Davis on 07/23/2013 - 12:20 pm.


        “An -innocent- teenager would have run home.”

        Meanwhile, back in the real world, someone asked on Yahoo, “Do innocent people run from the police?”

        This was the “Best Answer – Chosen by Asker”

        “Why would you run if you are innocent? If you are not hanging out with the wrong not have a record and are not doing anything wrong…why would you run?

        “You run when you are guilty…….or involved with those that ARE guilty.”

        Any other thoughts about what Trayvon Martin should have done? Stand his ground, maybe?

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/23/2013 - 05:19 pm.

          Zimmerman was is not a police offcer

          Zimmerman is not even a legitimate neighborhood watch guy. Yes, people run from unidentified strangers who are following them around in dark.

          • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 07/24/2013 - 10:38 am.

            The problem is

            that Martin did NOT run from Zimmerman; he attacked him.

            • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/24/2013 - 11:33 am.


              You only have Zimmerman’s account, no one else actually witness the alleged “attack”. Talk about one sided. What we do know is that had Zimmerman not engaged in vigilantism Trayvon is in his father house five minutes later instead of dead on the ground.

              It’s just so bizarre. Here we have an armed vigilante who made a series of totally bogus assumptions and fatally reckless decisions yet people decide he’s a credible witness giving a reliable account of the confrontation.

              Trayvon “jumped out” and attacked Zimmerman? Jumped out of where? Look at the where Trayvon was killed, there’s nowhere to hide, there’s no way Trayvon could’ve taken Zimmerman by surprise.


              Again, look at where Zimmerman killed Trayvon. We know why Trayvon was there, he was walking home and that location is perfectly consistent with that. Zimmerman on the other hand has no business being there unless he’s acting like vigilante. We know Zimmerman did NOT get out of his car to go for a stroll in the rain. Regardless of how the confrontation actually begins, (for instance Zimmerman may have approached Trayvon after Trayvon decided to stand his ground,) the entire confrontation is precipitated by Zimmerman’s decision to be there in the first place.

              • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 07/26/2013 - 09:29 am.

                We KNOW that

                Martin was on top of Zimmerman when he was killed (bullet angle and witnesses).
                We know that Zimmerman had injuries consistent with a concussion,
                and a concussion does not require extreme external injuries (that’s why football has elaborate rules governing detecting possible concussions).
                Further, one effect of a concussion is confusion lasting a few days, which would account for the variability of Zimmerman’s accounts after the attack.
                You keep dancing away from this reality.

                • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/29/2013 - 10:08 am.

                  We Know?

                  We know Zimmerman’s reckless behavior got him into a fight with Trayvon, and that fight may not have been going well for Zimmerman. We don’t know who started the fight or how. We only have Zimmerman’s account, and he’s not a reliable reporter for several reasons. We don’t have any indication that Trayvon was actually trying to kill Zimmerman or would have.

                  I don’t know why this is so hard for people to comprehend. It’s not hard to imagine a scenario for instance were Trayvon jumped Zimmerman BECAUSE Zimmerman started pulling his gun out. Zimmerman’s injuries are perfectly consistent with a scenario where Trayvon is fighting for his life because Zimmerman is trying to deploy his gun. Again for the millionth time, Trayvon does not know Zimmerman and Zimmerman is NOT a COP he has no legitimate authority to do what he’s doing. Zimmerman is a stranger who’s behavior is actually far more suspicious than anything Trayvon did. Zimmerman’s out of his car, on foot, alone, following people around in the dark for no apparent reason.

                  The emergence of a deadly weapon in any fight drastically changes the nature of the struggle. The fact that Zimmerman had a gun, and tried to deploy it, turned this scuffle into a life and death fight. The fact is that Zimmerman’s vigilante conduct created the entire situation. The fact that Trayvon turned out to be a tough kid doesn’t alter Zimmerman’s culpability.

                  Facts: Zimmerman’s the one acting as a vigilante. Zimmerman’s the one with the deadly weapon. Zimmerman’s the one who kills a teenager walking home from a convenience store. There’s no way Trayvon ends up dead that night without Zimmerman’s reckless and dangerous behavior. And it all starts when Zimmerman racially profiles Trayvon. It ends with acquittal because the legal system assumes that a black teenager with skittles is more dangerous and threatening than vigilante with a gun.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/23/2013 - 05:33 pm.

        Look at where Zimmerman killed Trayvon…

        What was Zimmerman doing there? We know why Trayvon was there, he was walking home. Zimmerman on the hand was only there because he was engaged in armed vigilantism. Yeah, it’s one sided when a guy carrying a gun takes it upon himself to decide someone is “suspicious” and chase them through a residential neighborhood. The fact is had Zimmerman engaged in vigilantism, got out of his car and chased Trayvon against all common sense. Yeah, its one sided when an adult with a gun confronts an innocent teenager. According to Florida law, Zimmerman was guilty of Culpable Negligence, the jury wasn’t instructed to consider that fact because a whole set of racial assumptions led to a conclusion that Trayvon must have been responsible for his own death. The available facts are Trayvon went to a seven eleven and was walking home. Zimmerman made a series of horribly mistaken assumptions and bad choices that created lethal confrontation. There is no rational way that Trayvon’s response to Zimmerman’s reckless vigilantism can outweigh Zimmerman’s culpability, yet that’s exactly what happend.

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