Americans divided over Zimmerman verdict, poll finds
July 22nd, 2013
01:37 PM ET
12 months ago

Americans divided over Zimmerman verdict, poll finds

(CNN) – The not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial has Americans divided, with equal numbers saying they approve or disapprove of the verdict, according to a poll released Monday.

The Washington Post/ABC News survey, which showed 41% of Americans approving and 41% disapproving of the jury's ruling, also showed sharp division among Americans in their views of the verdict. For example, 86% of African-Americans disapproved of the "not guilty" finding, while 51% of whites approved.

That closely aligned with a Pew Research Center survey released Monday, which showed 86% of African-Americans disagreeing with the verdict.

In the Washington Post/ABC poll, women - 48% of whom disapproved of the verdict - were more likely than men to hold that sentiment. And younger people also disapproved at higher levels: 50% of those aged 18-39 said they disapproved, while 30% of people over 65 felt the same way.

Sixty-two percent of Democrats disapproved of Zimmerman's acquittal, while 65% of Republicans approved.

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, shot unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in February 2012 in what he said was an act of self-defense. His trial drew widespread attention from the nation, much of it focused on the issue of race.

The Pew poll found 52% of respondents saying race was getting more attention in the Zimmerman case than it deserved, while 36% said it was raising important racial issues that need to be discussed.

On the question of whether blacks and other minorities receive equal treatment as whites in the American justice system, Monday's ABC/Washington Post survey showed Americans were split: 45% said they did receive equal treatment, while 50% said they did not.

Asked whether federal civil rights charges should be brought against Zimmerman, 46% said they should not, while 39% thought he should be charged.

The U.S. Justice Department has an open investigation in Zimmerman's case, though Attorney General Eric Holder has spoken in the past about the difficulty in bringing hate crime charges in the case.

The Washington Post/ABC News poll was conducted by telephone July 18-21 with 1,002 adults, and the sampling error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Pew’s survey was from 1,480 adults and was taken by telephone July 17-21. The sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: Polls
soundoff (260 Responses)
  1. frank

    ther is no divide. Trayvon is a thug!!!!! GZ was the victim. GZ is a good person in a bad situation...he did the right thing...DEFEND HIMSELF

    July 22, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  2. Woman In California - Boycott Florida

    My advice to ANY non white mother whose child is murdered: IF the State you reside in cannot give your child a jury of their peers – don't even bother to attend. Send them a message LOUD AND CLEAR that you now know to be true – they don't care about your child, you won't get a fair trial and you are wasting your time. If you have any doubts, remember this case.

    July 22, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    "GZ is a good person in a bad situation"

    That he created.

    July 22, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  4. just sayin

    Rudy NYC
    I have a better question. GZ demonstrated in his video, "I pulled my gun out and shot him." He pulled it from behind his hip.
    How could GZ pull his gun out and shoot like that when his supposedly laying flat on his back? Shouldn't his elbow have hit the ground, blocking him from reaching behind his hip like that?
    ---

    i guess you didn't look at the evidence did you? it is very easily explained. the holster was a simple slip on mean't to go on the belt or pants top. they can slide. it can work its way to the front (top) if it is worked by say a leg strandling you.

    but the better question is that martin knew he was being watched so why didn't he simply run to his destination? it was very close to where this happened. zimmerman lost sight of him when he turned down this walkway, in the dark. the only reason that martin ended up any place close to zimmerman was because he put himself there. And the local police knew that, and the local DAs knew that which is why he was not charged and his self defense made sense.

    July 22, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  5. Bill Smale

    It's absolutely revolting how certain politicians, people of intellect and prominence, people of influence, and of course the stupit, ignorant people, who among that class include your celebrities voice their opinion without knowing the facts of the case, or followed the trial. The only reason alot of Blacks are against the verdict is because Martin was the same color as they. The same reason they (Blacks) voted for Mr. Obama, He is Black, they are Black. They didn't bother to learn anything about Mr. Obama's platform, his qualifications as a candidate, they voted based on his skin color alone. It's been shown and proven Martin was the agressor, but the Black populaion doesn't care, There are those who want his to be race issue. They need for it to be a race issue,else they lose their "crutch",. the color of their skin. We have other races in this country that get treated a lot worse than the blacks. Blacks scream racisim, but look the other way when confronted with how many Blacks kiill other Blacks, but, that's not racisem is it.

    July 22, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    bible thumper wrote:

    Justice is defines as "the administering of deserved punishment or reward".
    Justice was servered in the is trial. Treyvon had a fair trial.
    ----------------
    "Treyvon had a fair trial." And that is the problem in a nutshell, that which has people upset. TM was on trial, not GZ.

    July 22, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  7. Whitehispanicphobia

    White-Hispanics are obviously running rampant in Chicago, just look at the crime statistics. There cannot be any other answer.

    July 22, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  8. OCMark

    Try to separate the emotion from the legal procedure. The prosecution did not put up a good case. The jury made its decision based on the State's weak case. The real issue is that it could be argued that Trayvon Martin was also "standing his ground". He was approached by a stranger who is not a policeman, and HE could have felt threatened and acted legally under this law by defending himself against Zimmerman. Blame your Florida legislature for this one. Both parties could have felt that they needed to "stand their ground" and we have a dead teen because of that.

    July 22, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  9. ConfusedAmerican

    So I take it that the jurors are racists then?

    July 22, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  10. Jeremy

    To all the people that were protesting this, "Where were you after the OJ Simpson trial?"

    July 22, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  11. dwight

    The evidence spoke for GZ, so he didn't have to. Besides he had already gave his story to the police, which was recounted to the jury.
    If Trayvon would have gone to his father's girlfriends house, then he might be alive to tell his story, but he brutally attacked a man with a hidden gun who defended himself. Trayvon still had marijuana in his system and this makes you paranoid and excitable to action.

    July 22, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  12. tom l.

    @Sniffit
    The evidence showed that GZ stalked the kid, followed him around in his car and on foot, and then instigated their confrontation by approaching him at night while he was minding his own business and walking home. THAT is aggressive behavior. GZ was the aggressor in this situation for those reasons alone.

    Actually, there is no evidence taht he instigated the confrontation whatsover. You're just making that part up to strengthen your position. There is ZERO evidence that GZ confronted TM first. You're a lawyer so you should know that you need to stick to the actual evidence; not something that you want it to be.

    Do you honestly think GZ is a racist? If he is, he is the worst racist ever. He tutored troubled African American kids and welcomed them into his home. He voted for Barack Obama twice and he is a democrat. Sniffit should, on the other hand, be very familiar with what a racist thinks as his latent racism is takes ahold of him. I love his newest racist rant, when someone mentioned "urban cesspools", Mr. Sniffit was the only one that "knew" exactly what the person who made the comment was thinking.

    July 22, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  13. Carolyn

    Marie VD
    The killer might not be dead but his life is over. He will NEVER be able to walk down any street as a "free" man because people will recognize him and will question him or say something to him. Even if they agree with the verdict he will start discussions wherever he goes. Sort of like profiling a young black teenager wearing a hoodie.
    I guess his daddy being a judge is not going to be able to help him this time around. Getting away with assaulting a police officer and domestic violence ( for those who think gm is a choir boy with a halo) were tiny little drops. He stepped into a tsunami and will drown in it!
    Maybe he can dump his wfe and marry another Florida killer who got away with murder, casey anthony.
    Florida IS the gun shine state after all.
    -------
    Ever been to Florida?

    July 22, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  14. Sal

    Why the African flag? How much justice is thier in Sub-Saharran Africa under that flag as opposed to the stars and stripes? Assimilate and join the American race and stop waving a flag of a continent where slavery, war, disease, hunger and poverty rule the day. March as Americans under the red white and blue which will serve you better then that African flag ever will.

    July 22, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  15. just sayin

    Sniffit
    The evidence showed that GZ stalked the kid, followed him around in his car and on foot, and then instigated their confrontation by approaching him at night while he was minding his own business and walking home.
    -–

    watching and reporting events to police is not stalking. following somebody is not illegal, especially if you are on the phone with police the whole time. and you have absolutely no evidence that zimmerman approached martin at any time so please stop offering conjecture and fiction as fact. had martin continued walking home and minding his own business, he'd be alive today. do you realize that martin was within a short sprint of his destination?

    July 22, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  16. Jennifer

    Self-defence has been stretched out of its definition by racism, another shinning example of American Laws are flexible and bend.

    July 22, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  17. GOP = Greed Over People

    The point still remains, IF Zimmerman had done as the police directed and stopped following Martin, Martin would be alive today. But, he didn't he started following him on foot.

    Or, as President Obama pointed out, what if Martin felt threatened by being followed, and had a gun and fired first and asked questions later. The Zimmerman family would be the ones with a deceased son.

    Bottom line, vigilante justice is the only thing served by SYG laws, so, lets issue guns to all and just fire the police!

    July 22, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  18. tom l.

    @Rudy
    "What truth. Zimmerman's story? Is that the truth you're talking about? Zimmerman's story is hearsay, not supported by any unimeachable forensic evidence. If his story were "the truth", then he would have asked for a SYG hearing, won it, and walked."

    Actually, the forensic evidence completely corrobarated GZ's story. GZ said that TM was on top of him at the time and the evidence proved that.

    July 22, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  19. jackarouu

    Why were they no protests and presidential opinion when OJ Simpson killed two whites and was acquitted after his lawyers played the race card?

    July 22, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  20. rs

    California Gary

    I'm having trouble understanding those that approve of the verdict. Are you saying that anyone who is on the losing end of a fist fight, even one that they basically caused to happen through their actions, has the right to use lethal force to resolve it? Because someone pops you in the nose and knocks you on your backside, that gives you the right to end their life without suffering any legal consequences yourself? Is that really the kind of society we want to live in? I thought we had evolved from the days of the old West where everyone packed heat and used it freely.
    __________________________
    Unfortunately Gary, that is exactly what they are saying. You can pick a fight with someone, and when it starts to go bad, you can kill them in self defense. Naturally it will help if your opponent is a minority- and there are no witnesses.
    Disgusting, immoral and wrong.

    July 22, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  21. Chapz

    There was no prove Trayvon Martin was a thug.

    July 22, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  22. Juancho

    This was a very tragic, classic "wrong place at the wrong time" scenerio! Was Zimmerman a little zealous? Yes! Did Trayvon act paranoid while on one of his marijuana high's? Yes! Trayvon did beat Zimmerman up, and was very violent, and Zimmerman did not know how old he was or if he was just a paranoid druggie! Zimmerman was getting beat up bad, and did not know if he was going to survive and keep conscience! He did not know if he did lose conscience would he have gotten killed with his own gun.He did not know if this was the guy who has burglarized apartments in the past few months! He did what I would have done! Save my own life by taking the shot. Tragic accident! This was bad for both parties!

    July 22, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  23. rs

    Rick McDaniel

    The issue here, is that black America is being irrational. A 17 yr. old is not a "kid". That is their entire argument, and it is simply a lie. 17 yr. old blacks commit more than 10% higher rate of violent crimes, than adult blacks do. That is a statistical fact.
    ________________________
    And just what was Mr. Martin's crime Rick? Why did Mr. Zimmerman have the right to stop him?

    July 22, 2013 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  24. phil

    Frank, u sound a little on edge, GZ gt away w/murder, if Trayvon was a thug then all Black men are thugs, is that what u think Frank? Your true colors are showing.

    July 22, 2013 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  25. California

    Zimmerman helps family out of overturned SUV.

    I'm sure this family is greatful he didn't go to prision.

    Zimmerman is now a hero.

    July 22, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
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