Trayvon racial divide: Three out of four black Americans believe Zimmerman would have been arrested if victim was white

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A poll has revealed Americans are sharply divided by race over the killing of black teen Trayvon Martin by a Hispanic neighbourhood watchman.

Nearly three-quarters of black Americans (73 per cent) think shooter George Zimmerman would have been arrested if the teen had been white.

Yet just a third of non-Hispanic white people agreed, according to the poll conducted by Gallup and USA Today this week.


More than half of black people said Zimmerman is ‘definitely guilty’ based on the information available, compared to only 10 per cent of whites.

The divide comes as questions remain over Zimmerman’s actions against Trayvon in Sanford, Florida where the teen was visiting family.

The neighbourhood watchman, 28, claims he followed the youngster as he looked suspicious and was forced to used his gun in self-defense.

But Trayvon’s defenders claim he was hounded by Zimmerman, who killed him in an incident of racially-motivated vigilante policing.

Sandford police released Zimmerman without charges under the state’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law which allows the use of a deadly force when there appears to be a threat to one’s life. Trayvon had been unarmed.

In the poll, 21 per cent of both white and black people said Zimmerman was ‘probably guilty’.

Black people have been paying closer attention to the case, which many believe signals the racial bias within the police.

More than half (52 per cent) of blacks have been following the story ‘very closely’, compared to 19 per cent of non-blacks.

Forty-nine per cent of non-blacks believe the youth’s race did not play a factor in the shooting, compared to just 20 per cent of black respondents.

In addition, nearly three-quarters of black people said race played a ‘major role’ in the shooting compared to 31 per cent of non-blacks.

Just eight per cent of black people said race played no role, compared to a quarter of white people.

The survey results were taken from the USA Today/Gallop poll which was conducted between April 2 and April 4.

It quizzed 3,006 Americans, including 242 black people.

The results matched earlier findings by the Pew Research Center which found opinions on the media coverage of the case were sharply divided.

Sixteen per cent of people who said there was too much coverage of the death were black, while 43 per cent were white.


How closely are you following the news about the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin?

Very closely: 52 per cent blacks; 19 per cent non-blacks

Not too closely/Not at all: 19 per cent blacks; 40 per cent non-blacks

Is George Zimmerman guilty of a crime?

Definitely guilty: 51 per cent blacks; 11 per cent non-blacks

Probably guilty: 21 per cent blacks; 21 per cent non-blacks

How much of a factor did racial bias play in the shooting and the lead up to the shooting?

Major factor: 72 per cent blacks; 31 per cent non-blacks

Minor factor: 13 per cent blacks; 26 per cent non-blacks

Not a factor: 8 per cent blacks; 25 per cent non-blacks

Would Zimmerman have been arrested if person he shot was white?

Yes: 73 per cent blacks; 35 per cent non-blacks

Race did not make a difference: 20 per cent blacks; 49 per cent non-blacks

Source: Gallup/USA Today