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)

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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