Poll: Black Support for New Civil-Rights Laws Climbs After Zimmerman Verdict

Massive racial gap persists in civil-rights attitudes.

African Americans support for anti-discrimination laws has surged since Zimmeran was acquitted in July of murder charges in the death of Trayvon Martin.
National Journal
Patrick Reis
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Patrick Reis
Aug. 26, 2013, 11:43 a.m.

Sup­port for new civil-rights laws has in­creased among Afric­an-Amer­ic­ans since the George Zi­m­mer­man ver­dict, ac­cord­ing to a new Gal­lup Poll.

In the poll, 61 per­cent of Afric­an-Amer­ic­ans sur­veyed said new laws were ne­ces­sary to re­duce dis­crim­in­a­tion against blacks, with 38 per­cent op­pos­ing such le­gis­la­tion.

When Gal­lup polled Afric­an-Amer­ic­ans on the same ques­tion in a June-Ju­ly sur­vey, 53 per­cent of re­spond­ents favored such laws, while 45 per­cent were in op­pos­i­tion. Between the two sur­veys lies the Ju­ly 13 not-guilty ver­dict for Zi­m­mer­man, who was ac­quit­ted of second-de­gree murder charges in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Mar­tin.

Gal­lup’s Au­gust up­date polled only Afric­an-Amer­ic­ans, but the June-Ju­ly poll re­vealed a massive ra­cial gap in sup­port for new civil-rights laws to fight anti-black dis­crim­in­a­tion. In that sur­vey, Afric­an-Amer­ic­an re­spond­ents were more than three times likely than whites — 53 per­cent to 17 per­cent — to sup­port new le­gis­la­tion.

Many ob­serv­ers said ra­cial bi­as played a role in the de­cision by Zi­m­mer­man, a non­white His­pan­ic, to con­front Mar­tin, an Afric­an-Amer­ic­an, while Mar­tin walked home through a Flor­ida neigh­bor­hood in 2012. Oth­ers, however, have ac­cused the me­dia of in­ject­ing race in­to the de­bate to bol­ster a policy agenda.

Over­all, 27 per­cent of adults polled sup­por­ted new le­gis­la­tion, as did 46 per­cent of His­pan­ics.

The Au­gust sur­vey, based on a sample of 1,000 non-His­pan­ic Afric­an-Amer­ic­ans, had a mar­gin for er­ror of 5 per­cent­age points. The June-Ju­ly poll of the gen­er­al pub­lic had a mar­gin for er­ror of 3 per­cent­age points.

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