The nation is sharply polarized over O.J. Simpson’s armed robbery case, with whites far likelier than blacks to say the former football great is guilty of the charges and is being treated fairly, according to a poll released Thursday.
By 70 percent to 10 percent, whites said they believe the charges against Simpson are true, according to the Associated Press-Ipsos poll. Blacks were far more divided, though still tilting slightly toward believing he is guilty, 41 percent to 37 percent.
About three-quarters of whites said they believe Simpson has been treated fairly by the Las Vegas authorities who arrested him earlier this month on charges of seizing sports memorabilia items at gunpoint from two men in a hotel room. By about the same number, whites also said they think Simpson will receive a fair trial.
But blacks were divided about evenly over whether the one-time Heisman Trophy winner was treated fairly, and by 55 percent to 36 percent said they believe Simpson’s trial will not be fair.
While 74 percent of whites said they think Simpson was guilty of the 1994 killings of his former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman, only 31 percent of blacks agreed. Simpson was found not guilty of the slayings, but was later found liable for their deaths in a civil suit.
On a larger question, 85 percent of blacks said they believe they and other minorities do not get the same treatment as whites in the criminal justice system. Whites said so too, but by a narrower margin of 50 percent to 44 percent.
On one question the two races agreed wholeheartedly: Nearly nine in 10 of each said they are tired of hearing about Simpson.
The survey was taken from Sept. 21-25 and involved telephone interviews with 1,317 adults. It had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. Included were interviews with 368 blacks, for whom the margin of sampling error was plus or minus 5 percentage points.
In addition, 865 whites were interviewed, and the margin of sampling error for whites was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.