Racial Divide On Trayvon Martin Death

5:41 PM, Apr 12, 2012   |    comments
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Trayvon Martin was killed in a Fla. Community in February

WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- Race has deeply divided Americans in the death of Trayvon Martin.

A new on-line poll from Reuters/Ipsos finds 91 percent of African Americans think he was unjustly killed. Just 35 percent of whites agree.

Polls from USA Today and the Washington Post found similar divides.

And we found sharp divisions in our community.

It's crazy, like the wild West," said Jim Moore as he wrapped up lunch at Ben's Chili Bowl in Northwest DC. "Black folks and white folks in America don't see things the same way."

Everyone we talked to at Ben's was convinced what George Zimmerman did to Trayvon Martin was murder -- not self defense. "I think the issue was the police didn't do what you would expect to do if someone shot someone," said Moore. "They didn't even do what they would do when they shot someone."

"I think they would have come through quicker if he had been white," said Ellis Jackson, who is African American. 

College student Jermaine Belton says he's been racially profiled by police -- and felt just the way he imagines Trayvon Martin must have felt. "It's the worst. To know that I'm not doing anything and just to get stopped. It's the worst."

George Zimmerman grew up in Manassas. And some people here feel he's been treated unfairly.

"I think he's already been convicted by the press. I think everybody blew it out of proportion," said Bicki Landendorf at the Ashton Avenue Diner, which is less than a mile from Zimmerman's boyhood home.

"The press has manipulated it the way they want it to go. I feel bad for him. I feel bad for everybody," said Landendorf.

Not that everyone here thinks the shooting was justified. "He was, George Zimmerman was, told, do not follow him, do not do anything. But he took it upon himself," said Landendorf's tablemate, Karen Nizialek.

"Why do neighborhood watch people even carry loaded guns with them?" asked Bonny Dodson. "They're not trained like police officers."

Tragedy has once again forced America to confront it's racial divide.  "If Trayvon would have been white, this never would have been a story at all," says Landendorf.

The USA Today/Gallup poll earlier this week found nearly three-quarters of African Americans believe racial bias was a major factor in the killing -- and that Zimmerman would have been arrested earlier if he had shot a white person.

Only about one-third of whites shared that view.


Written and Reported by Bruce Leshan

9News Now & wusa9.com

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