Oj Simpson Trial of the century – Part 2

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The infamous image of OJ trying on the bloodied gloves & them not fitting.

I love law and have done since I was a kid. From the age of 10 i wanted to be a barrister after watching the movie My cousin Vinny. There’s something about standing up in court and arguing a point articulately and passionately that gets my blood pumping so this trial is so fascinating to me.

Trial of the century

In January 1995 the trial of the century took place. it would be like nothing before it. It reshaped the landscape of the media and lasted 10 months. The trial was televised live and was an absolute media frenzy. It divided America and was whites vs blacks, it was all about race. All of the anger, the injustice, Rodney King et al, the pain bubbling over centuries imploded into this trial.

The trial was televised live to elevate the country’s understanding of the US legal system. It never felt like a real case but a media circus, people became famous and sold their story and made money off of this trial. It pushed the celebrity and was a shift in media information reporting to the most titillating headline grabbing infoporn.

The overwhelming evidence pointed to OJ being the murderer and the prosecution thought they had an open and shut case but so many factors led to this not being the case.

OJ was rich and famous. He had the money to pay for the best lawyers money can buy. He assembled what was called ‘the dream team’. He had about 9 lawyers and was spending $50,000 a day on them. OJ did autograph signings from jail and sold the merchandise, he was allowed to because he was not convicted. He signed 3 million dollars worth of pictures.

Johnnie Cochran was a civil rights lawyer. He was iconic to young blacks and young lawyers because he took on the police at a time when he wasn’t even allowed to talk to them in court. TV made him a hero in south central LA against the police. They had an engrained hatred for the police and didn’t trust them. They were recovering from Rodney King and he understood how to work them and effectively used and exploited and based the case on race and racism.

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There was no doubt from the prosecution that OJ had committed the murders due to the overwhelming evidence. OJ’s blood at the crime scene from a cut on his finger, shoe prints from a shoe that had a limited number made that he owned. It was a domestic violence case that culminated in murder but there was a catalogue of errors made by the police at the crime scene and his lawyers took complete advantage.

Factors that shaped the case

  •  The trial was conducted in central LA because the police wanted to protect their interests with the black community, if it was moved to a white area it would have been a predominate white jury like the Rodney King trial. The jurors available for the lengthy time of the trial skewed towards a lower social economic and more diverse background, the jurors were predominantly black. The defence wanted black jurors because they felt they would be more sympathetic towards OJ.
  • A black prosecutor was added to the team as a tactic to appeal to a predominate black jury, race was literally everywhere, it was a race trial more than a murder trial.

OJ’s defence

  • The police made a catalogue of errors that was exposed and used against them by OJ’s brilliant defence. The police brought OJ’s blood back to the crime scene thus the defence said that his blood was planted, they already admitted they brought it there.
  • The gloves were the crux of the case and OJ trying them on in court, the prosecution did not know if they would fit and got enticed into making him them try them on. OJ made a scene out it, the defence said they were planted.
  • The investigative team touched evidence without gloves. The crime scene was highly publicised and documented by the media, the body was visible outside her house on a main road and they covered it with her sheet which had OJ’s fibres on, so evidence was contaminated and compromised.
  • The detective in the case had a history and recording of himself saying he hated black people and that he could no longer be a cop because he couldn’t deal with them justly. Someone had to be blamed and it was him.
  • The defence character assassinated those who witnessed against OJ to make their testimony not appear credible and then people refused to witness.
  • OJ’s an actor. He’s been putting on an act most of his life and he knows how to play to cameras and when to turn it on. He used his charisma, the defense played games. Johnnie Cochran wore a kente cloth tie to court to show his “Africaness” to the black jury. SNL did a skit on it which is hilarious – link.

The race card

“All of a sudden he became black”. “We made him blacker”.

Here was this famous black rich sports hero who the black community was going to save and punish white people so they would know for once what it feels like to have injustice done to them. A travesty but a culmination of American living.

  • The defence made OJ black when most of his life he avoided that side, he threw off the cape and now he’s one of them. He avoided race and now it had come full circle.
  •  They turned OJ into a civil rights cause and did not regret it, the entire case was lost.
  • It was bigger than OJ and symbolic to has the mentality of America changed in the civil rights struggle or is it business as usual. If someone well-loved, famous and rich could have this done to them what hope would there be for the average black person.
  • They used a real serious injustice – racial issues in defence of a man who didn’t want anything to do with the black community.
  • It was judgement from their own people not whites in judgement of blacks as it’s been in history and it would be a victory for blacks.
  • Regardless of whether he did or did not do it blacks wanted this to be a FU to whites and didn’t care. The lawyers backed them and the mishandling of evidence helped them.

The trial

A culmination of events in America’s history with black people, racism, police brutality with a parallel of OJ’s life jarred in the court room. It was a time of black unity or revenge. Johnnie Cochran was magical and it was to the black jury whose side are you on? The defence was so brilliant Nicole became collateral damage. OJ and his lawyers effectively beat the system set up by white people for white people, they played the game. These black lawyers out smarted the white cops when the notion was blacks are inferior and not as smart, on a level playing field it was a show and a blow. It was a step forward, for the first time they had some power, they could win at the same game and slightly be on the same playing field.

Johnnie got the final argument closing tag line – “if it don’t fit you must a quit”. Brilliance.

I believed at the time he didn’t do it, I believed his defence and his image so did black people. White people believed he did. Image is a very powerful thing.

You could see the old OJ had gone. Somebody who had it all and played it just right f***** it up so royally but his retribution wasn’t going to come from this trial.

You learn justice is not real justice. It’s manipulated by factors. Who you are, the colour of your skin, an engineered jury with engineered justice. When you’re rich you can buy justice and maybe famous to. It’s who you know, your position, your image is this real justice? It’s why people want to keep up the status quo because you can literally get away with murder.

Final part, the verdict & the aftermath OJ Made in America coming soon.

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The fascinating life of OJ Simpson – Part 1

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When you hear the name OJ Simpson what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Some may not even know who he is now but for me it was the biggest trial in America. A famous, well-loved black sports hero was accused of murdering his white wife in the 90s. The story was huge and even at my young age I saw it, I heard it and I knew it was about racism.

I watched the documentary OJ: Made in America, there’s been many on him but I don’t think I’ve watched any other in its entirety. This one is one of the most incredible documentaries I’ve seen in a very long time and it’s Oscar-winning. It talks about his life before the lead up to the murder, the trial of the century and after his acquittal. There was a lot I didn’t know about OJ Simpson. It also talks about black America, racism and the history of the race relations between Los Angeles police and the black community which is what made the trial huge and divided the nation.

I’m going to relay the main points from the documentary and my thoughts and opinions on what I’ve watched.

“As a kid growing up in the ghetto one of the things I wanted most was not money, it was fame” – OJ Simpson. Boy, would this turn out to be the biggest blessing & curse of his life.

The documentary starts with him incarcerated in prison, he’s in court talking to the judges about the work he’s been doing in prison.

The beginning

He was born in San Francisco in 1947. He said he was a hustler from the age of 10. His father was gay and this was a big deal back then for a black man, he never spoke about it. He had aspirations and wanted to better his circumstance due to poverty and living in the ghetto and LA was the place to do that.

Black people had the image there was no prejudice in LA against blacks and many moved there from the deep south from the 1940s to the 60s. The hope was all the trouble they had known will be gone and they will no longer be held down by this notion held against their skin and hair (It’s interesting that even today many black people change their natural hair, It’s been entrenched in their psyche for centuries that ‘looking white’ is superior). Racism was as troubling and stark as it was in the south. You see the history of the ghettos of LA i.e. south central LA and how they were formed and black people still living in them today.

He was a breakout star at American football in the 1960s. He was known for scoring points by running long distances on the field. He was married to a black woman in USC college which was an all white college. He was a very good-looking man, he had that Ali swagger but not an ounce of his principal and people called him one of a kind as an athlete.

He was seduced as a black man in the 60s by white society and his story has been about being a pleasing person to white society. People said he had almost white features and he achieved also because of his looks, it’s a fact people are more accepting of and treat good-looking people better.

young oj

The Civil Rights Movement

The civil rights were occurring during the 60s. Segregation, racism, black people had no power, there was police brutality against blacks. The police head was known to have recruited officers from KKK rallies. There were riots in black areas due to police killings and OJ made white America feel good about black people at the time of unrest unlike the black angry sports stars who were going to revolutionise.

During the 60s societal issues were pushing their way into sports. Major athletes stood up against going to the Vietnam war, Muhammad Ali was one of them. They stood up for principal and it was to hell with the consequences. It damaged their commercial possibilities. Black athletes boycotted the Olympics in 68 due to discrimination. OJ was approached because he was the biggest name in college athletics, he was also a world record holding track star and his response was I’m not black, I’m OJ. Black athletes were concerned with black people first and sports second unlike OJ.

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The documentary shoots back and forth between OJ’s life in white America and the contrasting brutality and injustice of black America in poverty. It is a juxtaposition and visually, historically and contextually It’s brilliant. It relays the history of racism and why it has led to where people are at.

OJ’s career

He played professional American football and became the first black man to be a national spokesperson and get a product endorsement. This was ground breaking for a black man and an athlete because product endorsements for athletes were non-existent. OJ was that one black person on the brochure of a fancy university. He got in, but boy did he have to do a lot to be accepted.

This was another reason a lot of the athletes stood up against injustice because they didn’t have to worry about losing money, their endorsements or legal ramifications from companies. They were free in a way, unlike today where people will think twice whether it will affect their endorsements before speaking out.

OJ opened doors with endorsements to the black community with TV adverts, he was a pioneer. OJ left football to become an actor. He transitioned well from a sports star to a TV star. Many today do not do that successfully even though It’s become the norm.

His family life was failing with his first wife whilst he enjoyed fame. He met Nicole Brown and instantly liked her, he had an affair and ended up divorcing his wife and marrying Nicole.

Nicole Brown Simpson

nicole and oj

He and Nicole were seen as a beautiful, happy, fun couple. Image is everything in his world, he created his career off of being a like able black man.

He was a womanizer and was having affairs. He was physically abusing her for years, she called the police multiple times and said he’s going to kill me. There were two OJ’s, the one he was portraying, a very charming man and the controlling wife beater.

She had an affair as well with someone OJ was friends with and this really bothered him. He was a very jealous, insecure man even though he had many multiple affairs and national adoration, he became very entitled, everyone had put him on a pedal stool.

Her friend said “I think there was something about her that was almost unattainable to him, something he couldn’t quite control and it was part of the attraction”, this could be a metaphor for white America. She ultimately paid the price.

Did he take out his indignation’s on his wife? He put on a charming mask with the rest of the world. Did she see the real him? He loved her for sure but she didn’t accept his adultery and maybe he expected her to because of the way he got treated by everyone else because hey, he’s OJ.

She took the abuse for a while and then finally had enough of wanting and hoping he would change, she knew he wouldn’t.

The police

The police issues with the black community were still bad and white people were oblivious. The infamous case of Rodney King in 91, a black man beaten by police officers with batons was filmed. The media didn’t give LAPD a break and showed the video repeatedly internationally. It was an exhibit for every abuse case cops had done. How will the police justify this one? How will they get out of this one? The officers went to trial, the trial was moved to a white area and the jury found them not guilty and it enraged the black community, it caused riots.

rodney

What has changed between the black community and the police in the US today? We see black people being shot and killed live on social media and there is no accountability. Police brutality is happening in the UK Babar Ahmad and Mark Duggan are examples. There is a systematic inherent racism within the police that is still continuing.

What’s interesting is that some of the former police officers being interviewed in the documentary still justify racist and abusive actions. It’s quite sick, these former cops are really in denial or deluded about racism within themselves and the LAPD. The remnant of racism still resides in people today, who not too long ago supported segregation. They hold positions of influence with the same ideologies.

OJ knew the indignities of the black community and chose to not speak on it and ignore it. People said he had a facade when in the white world and didn’t amongst blacks. He was a black man trying to fit in to rich racist white America all the while he had forsaken his own people.

OJ’s character

He didn’t want to be seen as black but as OJ and for the contents of his character. What he said is correct but what didn’t match up was that he erased the black part of his character to appease white people and it definitely had a negative effect on him. He was accepted because he changed himself to fit in. He’s a smart man, he knew at that time that’s what he had to do to get the success he wanted. His life was different to black America and he was treated differently to black America.

The murder of Nicole Brown Simpson

Nicole was murdered along with another man, Ron Goldman. They were stabbed to death outside her house in an affluent area. It was a gruesome, bloody murder and the worlds media went hysterical.

OJ was accused of the murders and was treated with privilege by the police because of the pedal stool white America had put him on, he wasn’t even arrested but asked to surrender himself and he went on the run in a live televised car chase. I remember seeing this and the absolute hysteria and excitement from everyone watching, it was so surreal. Crowds had taken to the street and black people were supporting him, chanting ‘free OJ’ and holding posters.

He had reached the top of the mountain in his life and has had the most epic fall from grace. People called him an American tragedy and his life is more fascinating then fiction, It’s more than your brain can take in comprehend and digest.

He eventually gave himself in and was arrested and charged with the murders and it was the trial of the century.

Part 2 – The trial of the century read here.

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