A recent USA Today/Gallup poll reveals stark racial differences in perceptions of justice regarding the Trayvon Martin case. The poll results, which the paper details as the most polarized to date, show that 73 percent of blacks believe that George Zimmerman would have been arrested if Trayvon Martin had been white. By contrast, only 33 percent of whites believe this to be the case.
Similarly, 52 percent of whites believe that race is not a significant factor in how the shooting of the unarmed teen on Feb. 26 is being handled by authorities.
The Pew Research Center has also discovered a schism between how blacks and whites perceive media coverage of the Travyon Martin controversy. According to a study regarding news reports on the incident, 43 percent of whites versus 16 percent of blacks say the story has been covered “too much.”
In addition, the relative perceptions of how much attention Martin’s story has garnered splits across political lines. Republicans, at 56 percent, are much more likely to believe the press is overemphasizing the incident, compared to only 25 percent of Democrats.
Trayvon Martin, a black 17-year-old, was killed by George Zimmerman, 28, a biracial man of white and Latino ancestry in Sanford, Fla. Martin was visiting his family in a gated community where Zimmerman lived and volunteered for his unregistered neighborhood watch. Zimmerman killed the unarmed teen with a registered handgun and claimed it was self defense.
Sanford police released Zimmerman without charging him under Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, which authorizes the use of deadly force when one perceives a lethal threat. Trayvon was unarmed at the time of the shooting.
Lack of investigation into Zimmerman’s claims, combined with what many perceived to be racially motivated bias in police conduct, have unleashed a firestorm of debate regarding the case. Related issues such as racial profiling, gun control and the implications of the Castle Doctrine have been hotly debated, leading to intense media coverage of the incident and its aftermath.
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