Big gap between races in U.S. on Trayvon Martin killing

WASHINGTON Thu Apr 12, 2012 5:58pm EDT

The parents of slain Florida teen Treyvon Martin, Tracy Martin (L) and Sybrina Fulton (R) pose together with their son Jahvaris in New York, April 12, 2012. George Zimmerman, who was charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, made his first court appearance on Thursday in Sanford, Florida and was ordered held pending formal arraignment. REUTERS/Mike Segar

The parents of slain Florida teen Treyvon Martin, Tracy Martin (L) and Sybrina Fulton (R) pose together with their son Jahvaris in New York, April 12, 2012. George Zimmerman, who was charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, made his first court appearance on Thursday in Sanford, Florida and was ordered held pending formal arraignment.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Segar

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans are deeply divided by race over the killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, with 91 percent of African-Americans saying he was unjustly killed, while just 35 percent of whites thought so, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Thursday.

Fifty-nine percent of Hispanics believe that Martin was unjustly killed six weeks ago, according to the online poll of 1,922 Americans, conducted Monday through Thursday. (Link to poll: here)

In a sign of how riveted Americans have been by the case, 93 percent of those surveyed said they were aware of the shooting, which set off heated debates over race, gun control and crime.

"African Americans have a significantly different perspective on the whole incident than white Americans or Hispanic Americans," said Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson. "This incident is one of the clearest splits we've seen between whites and blacks."

The one area where all races agree is that they thought no one would ever really know what happened the February 26 night when 17-year-old Martin was killed in a quiet gated community in the central Florida town of Sanford.

George Zimmerman, a crime watch volunteer who is white and Hispanic, made a brief initial appearance in a Florida courtroom on Thursday. He has been charged with second-degree murder for Martin's shooting and will return to court on May 29.

Police initially declined to arrest Zimmerman, who said he shot Martin in self-defense. Zimmerman's freedom and Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law set off civil rights demonstrations across the country.

In addition to the demonstrations, Martin's killing sparked off a firestorm of debate about race relations and self-defense laws. Even President Barack Obama commented on the case, saying "If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon."

Zimmerman's lawyer, Mark O'Mara, said did not ask the judge to release his client on bail because it might "only arouse the fervor" around the case. He said he wanted to secure a safe place for Zimmerman to stay while he faces charges in the case.

REAL STORY?

The poll showed 68 percent of those surveyed - including 70 percent of whites, 69 percent of blacks and 57 percent of Hispanics - said the real story of that night would probably never be known.

"I think that's indicative that they don't really trust the whole narrative," said Jackson. "I imagine that the way people go on this question is different - whites don't think the same things happened as African Americans, for instance, but they all believed that they're not going to know what really happened."

The survey included 1,289 Caucasians, 219 African-Americans and 267 Hispanics. The precision of the Reuters/Ipsos online poll is measured using a credibility interval and this poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points for all respondents.

The credibility interval for whites was 3.2 percentage points, for African-Americans it was 7.7 points and for Hispanics was 7 points.

The poll also showed a stark racial divide between whites and blacks over whether heavy media coverage of the case had been appropriate. A total of 68 percent of blacks surveyed said they thought the amount of media coverage had been appropriate, while only 24 percent of whites thought it was right.

(Editing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Comments (100)
tomyj1 wrote:
Just more of the hand being out for GIMMIE,GIMMIE,GIMMIE.

Apr 12, 2012 3:29pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Whitetailer wrote:
First of all I’m white, Ukrainian paternal and British maternal grandparents. If I were black, African American would I be one of the 91% of my brothers and sisters who feel Martin was unjustly killed or would I be one of the 69% who said we would probably never really know the real story of that night.

I would hope I would be in the 69% group wishing for the truth rather that in the 91% group.

I’m afraid it is gonna be a long hot summer with the activists reving up the heat all the way.

Apr 12, 2012 3:30pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
RPhillips111 wrote:
I think it is very likely we will never be sure we know what happened in this case. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be a guilty verdict of some sort.

There has been a vast and deliberate media campaign, created by Civil Rights Activists and black journalists over more than a month, which amounts to a flash mob lynching of Zimmerman. It closely follows the Jena 6 pattern–including time frame. but it also is more than a little kin to the Duke Lacrosse Players case as well.

Had the Duke Lacrosse players now had prosperous families with deep pockets willing to fight for their kids–and the truth, as it turned out–it is very likely the players would have ended up convicted of something or persuaded to take a plea admitting to some wrongdoing.

No matter what the prosecutor in this case says, I can’t help but remember Mr. Slam Dunk, the Duke players prosecutor, and how that case was propaganda and media driven until it was shattered by some excellent defense attorneys and the facts.

Is the prosecution of this case mainly driven by public outcry, or by a real case? I have my doubts, based on what we know, that a prosecutor would seek to try Zimmerman for a serious offense. @nd degree Murder?

May truth and justice prevail in whatever occurs.

Apr 12, 2012 8:19pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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