Study: Blacks, Hispanics say Zimmerman arrested earlier if victim White

June 14, 2013

Blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites to believe that George Zimmerman would have been arrested immediately had he shot a white person, according to a newly published study.

Blacks are more likely than both Hispanics and whites to believe race was a factor in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager. And blacks also are more likely than whites to follow the court case closely. Hispanics are less likely than all groups to follow the case closely.

These are among the conclusions found in the study published in the Journal of Crime and Justice just as the against Zimmerman begins.

University of Central Florida associate professor Kareem Jordan and Penn State professor Shaun L. Gabbidon conducted the study with data from a 2012 USA Today/Gallup Poll. They analyzed the data to address three questions: Did you perceive that race played a role in the shooting? Had the victim been white, do you perceive the suspect would have been arrested sooner? And how closely will you be following the case?

"The study shows that the racial divide in public opinion is alive and well," Jordan said. "Blacks continue to feel the greatest sense of criminal injustice, followed by Hispanics and whites. But in certain instances, the views of blacks and Hispanics can be different. Some things we found we anticipated, but others were a bit surprising."

Jordan studies crime and race—specifically the African-American community's perception of race in the . He began this particular study in April 2012, two months after Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin, a black teenager, and before Zimmerman was arrested.

Zimmerman is accused of fatally shooting 17-year-old Martin while Zimmerman was patrolling a Sanford neighborhood as a member of his neighborhood watch. Zimmerman was not immediately arrested, and protests followed. The case has drawn international media attention, and courthouse grounds have been crowded with news trucks as jury selection continues.

"Blacks believe there is racial injustice at the hands of the criminal justice system based on centuries of history," Jordan said. "This is a reason why some blacks are suspicious of situations that involve crime and justice. In this case, blacks immediately viewed the shooting as further evidence of ongoing racial injustice."

Unlike some previous studies examining crime and race, Hispanics didn't overwhelmingly perceive that race played a role in the shooting. Their perceptions were more in line with whites.

As for why differed when past studies have indicated they tend to align more with perceptions of blacks, Jordan wasn't sure.

"It certainly is an area ripe for more research," Jordan said. "The current immigration crisis may add to the perception of criminal injustice. Over time, that may lead to a decreased sense of procedural justice. If this happens, it is likely that Hispanic perceptions on killings such as Martin's will become closer to the views of blacks. Only time will tell."

According to the data, the more educated respondents, regardless of their ethnicity, perceived that race played a role in the and subsequent arrest. Wealthier respondents were less likely to believe that race was involved at all.

Explore further: Tale of 3 segregations: Poor other-race neighbors contribute to poverty of black and Hispanic neighborhoods

Related Stories

Professor examines race and sentencing

February 23, 2012

A Sam Houston State University professor is working on a series of studies that examine the effects of race and ethnicity on state and federal sentencing outcomes, including incarceration and sentence length decisions.

Racial inequalities exist for kids with kidney disease

November 10, 2011

Among children with kidney disease, certain races are less likely to get kidney transplants and are more likely to die than other races, according to two studies from Emory University that were presented during the American ...

Recommended for you

Waiting periods reduce deaths from guns, study suggests

October 17, 2017

(—A trio of researchers with Harvard Business School has found evidence that they claim shows gun deaths decline when states enact waiting period laws. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy ...

Roman theater uncovered at base of Jerusalem's Western Wall

October 16, 2017

Israeli archaeologists on Monday announced the discovery of the first known Roman-era theater in Jerusalem's Old City, a unique structure around 1,800 years old that abuts the Western Wall and may have been built during Roman ...

Human speech, jazz and whale song

October 13, 2017

Jazz musicians riffing with each other, humans talking to each other and pods of killer whales all have interactive conversations that are remarkably similar to each other, new research reveals.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

2.1 / 5 (7) Jun 14, 2013
NOT PHYSICS....keep your liberal BS off of here
3.4 / 5 (5) Jun 14, 2013
Zimmerman is officially Hispanic.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.