People have asserted rather implacable, polarized opinions in the George Zimmerman case.
The Florida resident is on trial for the February 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman encountered the teenager during a neighborhood patrol whereupon the two scuffled and Trayvon was fatally shot and killed.
Details surrounding the circumstances of the encounter, shooting, arrest, and trial have since been heavily debated.
Initially Zimmerman cited the state’s controversial Stand Your Ground Law, alleging the young black teen attacked him, forcing him to use lethal force out of self-defense. However, Zimmerman eventually waved that defense and proceeded to trial where currently a jury is being assembled.
People have argued that Zimmerman should have remained inside the car that night – heeding the warning of the 911 operator – instead of confronting Trayvon. Others allege Trayvon’s death was solely due to Zimmerman’s negative racially stereotypical impression of young blacks – assuming Trayvon had been up to no good.
Zimmerman was not arrested until six weeks after the shooting, in April, and authorities charged him with second-degree murder.
Racial tensions have surrounded the case from the beginning – provoking celebrity and political intervention along with protests. A study, published in the Journal of Crime and Justice, also found that blacks and Hispanics believe Zimmerman would have been arrested sooner if Trayvon had been white instead of black.
The purpose of the study – conducted by University of Central Florida associate professor Kareem Jordan and Penn State professor Shaun L. Gabbidon – was meant to examine the role of race in explaining perceived criminal injustice using the Trayvon Martin shooting. The study utilized data from a 2012 USA Today/Gallup Poll, representing a national sample of more than 2,000 people.
Respondents included blacks, Hispanics, and whites.
Jordan stated, “The study shows that the racial divide in public opinion is alive and well.”
Blacks were the racial group most likely to believe that criminal injustice surrounded the Trayvon Martin shooting. Hispanics generally perceived more criminal injustice than whites in the case, though this difference was not statistically significant.
Researchers surmised past mistreatment of minorities likely explained much of the differences in perceptions.
What do you think about the Zimmerman-Martin shooting? Will you be following the trial?
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