- (Photo: Reuters/Joe Burbank/Pool)
George Zimmerman's not guilty verdict has been met with media controversy and public discontent and approval, split down apparently racial and political lines. A new poll about the outcome of the trial showed that African-Americans are largely unsatisfied with the not guilty verdict, while a majority of white Americans felt justice was served.
George Zimmerman was found not guilty of second-degree murder after the slaying of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin Feb. 26, 2012, but many African-Americans, including parents of the teen Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, did not like the verdict. 86 percent of African-Americans disapproved of the six-woman jury's decision of "not guilty," while only nine percent approved, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll Monday.
The Hispanic population also skewed somewhat towards disapproval, as 50 percent disapproved of the verdict, while 24 percent agreed with it. However, they also had the largest amount of respondents with no opinion on the case.
In contrast, a narrow majority of 51 percent of white Americans supported the not guilty ruling, while 31 disagreed with it.
Stark differences were also shown among parties. While Democrats largely disapproved of the verdict- 62 percent disagreed with the not guilty ruling- only 22 percent approved of George Zimmerman going unpunished. Republicans felt nearly the direct opposite, with only 20 percent disapproving of the outcome and 65 agreeing with it.
The poll, which asked 1,002 adults from July 18-21 about their feelings about race, only highlights the racial disparity in which the case is viewed. While advocates like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Jay Z, Beyonce, Stevie Wonder and other entertainers joined the slain teen's parents for "Justice for Trayvon," others have dismissed the entire debate about race in America as a product of media hype.
"[The shooting of Trayvon Martin] is a heart-breaking story. But that is not enough," Charles Hurt wrote for The Washington Times, decrying the "Great White Media." "It must be twisted into a story about a white man's gun violence against a profiled black teen."
Exacerbation of emotions surrounding the case seems to have only gotten worse since the announcement of the verdict. A Florida Pastor called George Zimmermann has received continued death threats; violent vitriol is currently being directed towards Zimmerman, his parents, his legal team, and the Sanford police force through hostile phone calls and emails; Zimmerman himself has taken to wearing a bulletproof vest in public.
While President Obama acknowledged the passionate discourse surrounding the Zimmerman case and the state race in America Friday, he also said that court's decision was done properly, and that all opinions should be expressed peacefully.
"Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago," the President said. "The juries were properly instructed that in a case such as this, reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict. And once the jury's spoken, that's how our system works."
"I think it's understandable that there have been protests and vigils," he continued, calling for peaceful demonstration. "Things are getting better. Each successive generation seems to be making progress in terms of changing attitudes."