US blacks, whites split on Zimmerman verdict: poll

Updated: 2013-07-23 07:52


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WASHINGTON -- An overwhelming majority of US blacks say the verdict of George Zimmerman was wrong, while a majority of whites say the verdict was right, a Gallup poll showed Monday.

The poll found, an overwhelming 85 percent of blacks say the verdict, which acquits Zimmerman of second degree murder of black teenager Trayvon Martin, was wrong. A majority of whites, 54 percent, on the other hand, say the verdict was right.

Americans overall are divided in their views of the verdict: 43 percent say it was right and 40 percent wrong, according to the poll.

Gallup noted these results are almost exactly the opposite of blacks' and whites' reactions to the innocent verdict handed down by a Los Angeles jury in the murder trial of O.J. Simpson in 1995.

In a survey conducted in October of that year, about two weeks after the verdict, 89 percent of blacks said the jury had made the right decision, while by a 53 percent to 36 percent margin, whites said the jury's decision was wrong.

There was also a racial difference on view of justice system's bias. According to the poll, while 68 percent of blacks say U.S. justice system is biased against blacks, only 25 percent of whites agree. It also found blacks' attitudes about the justice system have remained virtually constant over the past 20 years, but whites have become less likely to perceive bias.

The not guilty verdict in the Zimmerman trial has resulted in an outpour of complaints about racial bias in the way the U.S. criminal justice system works.

Gallup said these underlying attitudes provide the cognitive framework black Americans and white Americans use to interpret specific instances of the criminal justice system at work, including views of the recent Zimmerman case.

The new results are based on interviews with 2,541 Americans, including 1,841 non-Hispanic whites and 230 non-Hispanic blacks, conducted during the July 16-21 period, after the verdict in the Zimmerman trial was handed down.

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, was found not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the shooting death of Martin last year in Florida.