20% more Britons perceive race relations in the US to be ‘bad’ as those who say the same about the UK - and American citizens see their own racial relations as at a four-year low
Protests have erupted across the United States following the highly controversial acquittal of George Zimmerman, who shot dead black teenager Trayvon Martin but was freed under the justification that he acted in self-defence. To many Zimmerman’s comments to the police prior to the crime indicate that the murder was race-related. New YouGov research finds that significantly more British people view race relations in the US to be ‘bad’ as who feel the same about the UK, and American citizens themselves view their race relations to be at a four-year low.
The majority (53%) of British adults say that race relations in the United States are “generally bad”, while only 15% say they are good and 31% don’t know. When asked about their own country, the numbers are inverted: more Britons (40%) say race relations in the UK are “generally good” than who say they are bad (33%), while just over a quarter (27%) don’t know.
In a YouGov poll of the US public, more (43%) now say race relations are bad than say they are good (36%). In contrast, in 2009 60% said they were good and, in the wake of the 2011 inauguration of America’s first black president, Barack Obama, the number was as high as two thirds (66%).
YouGov also asked British adults if they were aware of the Zimmerman story prior to polling, and if so how closely they have been following it. 85% of Britons are aware of the story, however while a third (33%) say they are following it closely, half (52%) say that while aware of it they are not following closely or at all. Only 15% are completely unaware.
The measure which allowed Zimmerman to walk free is called a “Stand Your Ground” law. Under the law people can defend themselves with deadly force should they feel threatened at home or in public. The law has been adopted in over 20 US states, but has been subject to fresh criticism by America’s top law enforcement official, US Attorney General Eric Holder, who says they “sow dangerous conflict in our neighbourhoods” by “allowing – and perhaps encouraging – violent situations to escalate in public.”